Nintendo product

Should you keep your boxes of tech products? – Geek Review

Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

Dealing with Amazon boxes is hard enough. But the phone, computer, or video doorbell you ordered comes with its own unique packaging that can turn into a permanent bump on your back. Should you let those old boxes take up space in your closet or should they be thrown in the trash?

At least keep the boxes for returns

When buying an expensive new device, try to save the packaging for at least a few weeks. Most retailers, including Amazon, are expected to refuse any returns that are not in their original box. And in some cases, a retailer will take a cut of your return if you don’t have the packaging.

Now, maybe you had a different experience with returns. Companies often make exceptions to their return policy in the interest of customer satisfaction. This is especially true when a product is faulty.

But no one wants to have trouble returning an item. Keeping a box for a few weeks just makes it easier. Plus, it’ll save you from spending a lot of money on a new box, packing peanuts, or bubble wrap.

When you know a product does not need to be returned, you can break down the packaging and divide it into waste and recycling. But maybe you should keep the box a little longer; it’s hard to say.

Original packaging also increases resale value

Someone with an iPad in its original packaging.
blackzheep /

You will upgrade your phone or tablet at some point. And if you keep the original packaging of these devices, you can get an additional resale value of $15 or $20. This is true for almost all electronic devices, and it is the main argument in favor of keeping old boxes.

Selling a product with its original packaging gives the illusion that you are a good guardian. Plus, if you leave any of the accessories or product instructions in the box, you might have a good reason to charge more money – someone might really want that extra stuff!

Additionally, some boxes have the potential to become “collectibles”. People love old Apple and Nintendo boxes, even when the boxes are just for small accessories. And for some reason, some musicians are obsessed with wrapping up old guitar pedals and keyboards.

Now, an old box won’t always increase a product’s resale value. Most people won’t pay extra for your five-year-old TV box or shell out for a cheap wireless charger box. And if you expect to push a device to its death (like a security camera that’s in a harsh environment), you probably shouldn’t worry about resale value.

But will you really resell your old electronic devices? If you store a bunch of boxes but rarely sell your stuff, it might be time to clean out your closet. Clinging to the idea that “it might be worth something” is a dangerous game!

Old boxes make moving and maintenance easier

Several other boxes hoarded by our editor.
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

In some cases, keeping an old box makes your life easier. Maybe your video doorbell came with some extra mounting hardware, or your Xbox box has some nice foam padding in it. In these situations, keeping the box can be a convenience.

I have found this to be especially true when moving house. A new home may require the small stuff you left behind in a smart thermostat housing. And hey, you don’t have to worry about your Xbox getting damaged during a move if you still have the polystyrene-filled box.

Admittedly, this is not the best argument for keeping the old boxes. Some people stay in the same house for years or decades and keep old boxes In case can be a waste of time or space. You can always organize instruction manuals and spare parts in plastic bags, and realistically, electronics are rarely the first thing to break during a move.

Some boxes just aren’t worth keeping

A VIZIO smart TV box.
Yeah, you don’t need to keep that box. VIZIO

Most electronics enclosures contain Styrofoam, hard plastic, or other parts that cannot be flattened. So they take up a lot of space. It’s okay when a box is tiny, but it’s a pain in the neck when you have a big box for a desktop monitor, audio system, or other massive product.

You can usually throw away those big boxes without any regrets. People rarely resell their big electronics, and when they do, it’s usually a local affair. Shipping a 40-inch TV to someone on eBay is not a pleasant experience, and while the box may make shipping easier, it will likely end up in the buyer’s trash.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. You should probably keep the new boxes for a few weeks in case a product needs to be returned. If you’re moving to a new house soon, a TV box might come in handy. And hey, you might be planning to upgrade your digital grand piano in a few years – the box could add to its resale value and make shipping easier.

And again, some large electronics could become collectibles. Their box may be valuable one day. But that’s rarely the case for the average computer, television, desktop monitor, soundbar, or other massive piece of equipment.

How to store your old boxes

A messy garage full of shit.
It’s a messy garage, but the plastic containers keep the boxes dry! trekandshoot /

Storing old boxes is a real nightmare. You only have a few options: store them in a closet, store them in the garage, toss them in a storage cabinet, or pile them on the floor. And if you’re a jerk, I guess you can use old boxes as decorations.

The problem, of course, is that you can’t flatten electronic packaging. It usually contains a bunch of extra plastic, spare parts or other nonsense.

My advice is to try to avoid a hoarding mindset. You can probably think of a dozen reasons to keep an old box, but you don’t have a lot of space. Throw away boxes that don’t matter. And find a clean space to store and organize the boxes that are really worth keeping. (If you store old boxes in a garage, put them in a a plastic container to keep water or insects out.)

Here’s a fun suggestion; use your old boxes as storage. You’d be surprised how many cables or Christmas decorations an Xbox box can hold. If you label those old boxes with painter’s tape, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding whatever you’ve been hiding.