How to Organize Your Appliance Paperwork

A woman holding a paper while a man works in the background on an oven in a kitchen.

When one of your appliances breaks down, what's the first thing you do? After kicking it a few times of course, you usually then go on the hunt for that darn manual, receipts, and warranty information that you're wishing now you had stored all in one place. To take the irritation out of at least that part of an appliance breakdown, we're going to help you organize your appliance paperwork and keep it handy for any issue that may come up.

There are two main ways to best get organized with everything that came with your appliance. There's the paper trail way, and then there's the electronic way. We'll cover both for you so that you can choose whichever one works best for you.

Organizing Paper

A warranty paper with red pencil.

When you buy an appliance you will get your manual, warranty card, and of course the receipt. Keeping these together is imperative to getting the appliance repaired successfully should it ever need it under the warranty. You should also, however, keep a copy of the receipt in another file in case the ink wears off and it becomes unreadable.

Once you have the manual, warranty, and a copy of the receipt (or the actual receipt), you'll want to attach the receipt and warranty card to the manual. Next, on the front or back of the manual there's a spot for the serial number and model number of the appliance. Write these numbers in now so you won't have to try to find them later. It's best if you can do this when setting the item up for use as many times the serial and model number are not always listed on the manual, and you may have to write them down off the back or bottom of the product (or hopefully get the information from the receipt).

For storage, use a file box or basket, some file separators, and tabs to create a place just for your appliance paperwork. Separate and label them by room (kitchen, laundry room, bedroom), or label each file directly with the appliance product name.

Alternatively, you can use binders, however, most manuals are too thick to put several into a binder. If you use a binder, place the files into a pre-punched clear plastic paper sleeve and include anything that pertains to that appliance in it.

Organizing Electronically

An external harddrive attached to a laptop.

Eventually, all the paperwork that accumulates with a home full of appliances can be overwhelming to keep up with. The alternative is to save all of what you need electronically. You can do this at any time, not just with the purchase of a new item. You can go back through all of your paperwork and convert them to files you'll store on your computer, disc, or external hard drive.

To get this process started, first you'll want to create a folder in which to save all of your appliance paperwork. You can create it on your computer desktop and label it, "Appliance Paperwork."

Once the folder is ready, you can add separate folders within it, labeling each one as you would if you were putting your files in a cabinet. This can be by room or by appliance name.

In the individual appliance file, you'll want the manual (go online to the manufacturer's website and download the PDF version or save a copy of the link for later access), the warranty, and your receipt. Scan the warranty and receipt into your computer and add it to the file. If you don't have a scanner, use your smartphone or camera and take a good, clear picture of the card and receipt and use that. Also add to the file a picture of the appliance, including an image of the model and serial numbers.

If you're not backing your computer up regularly to an external hard drive or cloud service, you'll also want to create a disc of the information or download it to a USB, memory card, or external harddrive.

Final Tips

A row of rainbow-colored file folders.

Whether or not you choose to save and organize your appliance paperwork in a file basket or on your computer, consider saving at least the receipt in a file electronically. Putting files on your computer makes things easier when it comes time for repair because many manufacturers deal with support online and will ask for a copy of the receipt to be sent to them.

Lastly, as we suggested in the electronic way of organizing, take a few pictures of your appliance for your paper files, too. Snap one of the serial number, the model number, and the product itself and print it out for paper files or add it to your electronic ones. These pictures will later serve as an inventory for an insurance company should anything ever happen to your home, such as a fire or theft.