The best ways to keep track of those pesky manuals, receipts, and serial numbers.

By Real Simple
Updated April 09, 2007
Use the Appliance Inventory Worksheet to keep an inventory of your major appliances―and each manufacturer's phone number. That way, you'll have all the basic information ready in case something goes wrong.
| Credit: Monica Buck

Use this Appliance Inventory Worksheet to organize the basic information for each of your major appliances. Then the next time an appliance misbehaves, you won't have to search for the manufacturer's telephone number―and when the customer-service representative wants to know the model and serial numbers, you'll have those at your fingertips, too.

Plus, of the mountains of paperwork that arrive with each new appliance, here's what you need to keep and why:

Original Packaging

Why you need it: "If something turns out to be wrong with the item, this will make it easier to return," says home and office organizing expert Debbie Williams, founder of, in Houston. Keep it, if only for a week.

Sales Receipt

Why you need it: "Most warranties begin from the date of purchase, so in addition to serving as proof of ownership, the receipt indicates how much time you have left on the warranty," says Brett Oleson, sales education manager for Maytag Corporation. The receipt also identifies the dealer who sold you the product, in case you forget.

Owner's Manual

Why you need it: The manual gives instructions on how the appliance works, and it usually lists the customer-service phone numbers.

Warranty Information

Why you need it: If there's a warranty card attached, you may need to fill in the details, then mail it in to activate the warranty. The card also spells out your guarantee for repairs. Without it, you may need to fork over money for maintenance. Most warranties cover parts and labor for a year. If you've bought an extended warranty from the dealer, which will lengthen the original product guarantee for a period of years, keep that information too.

Model and Serial Numbers

Located: Usually the model number comes first, followed by the serial number. Both are typically a series of letters and numbers, 7 to 16 characters long.
Why you need them: A model number identifies by brand the kind of appliance you have, like an Amana Radarange. The serial number is the individual fingerprint of the appliance. It tells the manufacturer things like the day the product was built, when it left the factory, and the kind of replacement parts needed. "I'd say only about 40 percent of customers have this information when they call, and this inevitably slows down the repair process," says Manny Ortega Jr., owner of Ortega's Appliance Service Today, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.