Do you really need to keep product manuals?
Product manuals for appliances and other major household devices are a little bit like martini glasses. You never use them, but the minute you get rid of them, you realize you need them.
So although some people choose to dispose of the hard copies and find their manuals online when necessary, the majority of people still prefer to keep the original hard copy.
No matter which method you prefer, here are ideas for keeping the information organized.
WHAT TO KEEP, WHAT TO TOSS
Let’s be reasonable: It is not necessary to keep the paperwork that comes with a product duch as a fan, hair dryer or coffee pot. If the item has an on/off switch and you know how it works, toss the paperwork.
Manuals and warranties for bigger (and more complex) appliances such as your dishwasher, air conditioner and hot-water heater can be stored in labeled files and organized by category.
If you are on the fence about items that fall in between, think about how often you might need the manual. For instance, you might want to keep a bike manual for occasional reference. It also may make sense to keep the manual for a kitchen appliance that you use only once or twice a year.
And there are some items for which you’ll want to keep the manual for as long as you have the item, such as a crib or car seat. Some baby and toddler items have important height, weight or age recommendations, and if you eventually give them away, it’s best to also pass along the paperwork.
HOW TO ORGANIZE HARD COPIES
Sort through the paperwork. Keep the manual and warranty, and recycle all extraneous information. Also, write the purchase date and vendor on the front of the manual before filing it.
The files will be bulky, and you’re not going to access them frequently, so they don’t need to be stored with your other household files. Consider keeping them in a secondary filing cabinet or in a clearly labeled box on a shelf in a closet.
WAYS TO STORE ELECTRONICALLY
Some people opt to record model numbers, serial numbers and purchase dates electronically, and then use online product manuals to find the pertinent information when necessary.
The key to making this work is to accurately and consistently record the information. While some people prefer to make a spreadsheet, digital tools such as Evernote make it easy to record this information. The tool allows you to type in the essentials or upload photos of box labels or manual cover. As with any organizing task, pick one option and stick with it.