After moving into a new home or conducting your annual spring cleaning, you may be tempted to shove a box of unused items into a corner of your garage.
Unfortunately, this might be a mistake.
Even though your garage is sheltered and generally protected from the elements, it’s still a less stable environment than the inside of your house.
For this reason, it’s not always a good storage place.
This article will show you the dos and don’ts of garage storage. We’ll go over 20 things you should never stash in your garage to keep them in optimal condition.
20 Things You Shouldn’t Keep in Your Garage
There are a few reasons why a garage isn’t the best storage place.
The temperature in a garage isn’t as controlled like other areas of a home with consistent air conditioning, heating, and moisture control. For this reason, the items in the garage will experience more fluctuations than those stored in other areas.
Additionally, garages are accessible to insects and rodents. These critters are more likely to hang out in your garage than the rest of your house because of the frequent opening of garage doors and the likelihood of tiny crevices. Lastly, products like fuels and pesticides can be hazardous when stored in your home.
The following four sections will detail 20 specific items you shouldn’t store in your garage to avoid hazards, pests, and damage to your belongings.
Your garage may seem like a great place to keep your bulky propane tank. However, this practice is incredibly dangerous.
Propane is a highly flammable gas that can cause severe fires or explosions when exposed to sparks or high heat.
The gas can also leak out of the can and concentrate in the air, creating a breathing hazard in your home.
Always store propane tanks outside of your garage in a well-ventilated area.
The Propane Education and Research Council explains what to do if you suspect a gas leak in or around your home:
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t store pesticides in your garage.
Pesticides can leak out, creating a health hazard for humans and pets. Keeping chemicals in your garage also makes them more accessible to children who might go exploring.
If you must store unused pesticides in the garage, you can take several steps to reduce danger. Safely store pesticides on a high shelf in a locked cabinet out of reach. You should even place that cabinet in a stand-alone shed or garage if possible.
Portable Gas Cans
You should also keep portable gas cans out of your garage. Like propane, gas is a fuel that is highly flammable and hazardous to your health. If a gas leak is exposed to a spark or high heat, it can cause a house fire or explosion.
Instead, keep spare gasoline in an approved container that’s tightly sealed and free of holes or cracks. Store gas containers away from living spaces in a secure location, such as an outdoor shed.
Oily rags lying around your garage can be just as dangerous as leaky gas cans.
Sparks from welding tools, lighters, or your car can ignite the rags and light a fire. Even worse, piles of oily rags can spontaneously combust under high heat.
The oil in the fibers can heat up from the outdoor temperature or a nearby heat source. The gas won’t have an escape if it’s buried under more rags, causing the pile to burst into flames.
Items That Can Attract Pests
You may want to store a box of old books out in the garage, but this isn’t advisable – especially if you plan to use the books again.
Garages are subject to humidity because of frequently opened doors, rainwater on cars, and less moisture control. The moisture can cling to your books and cause paper rot, mold, or mildew damage.
Additionally, insects like booklice and silverfish will love the opportunity to snack on your favorite novels. Prevent them from doing this by keeping your books in a sealed container indoors.
That unoccupied corner of your garage may seem like the perfect place to store unused firewood, but this isn’t the case.
Wood can create a fire hazard in your garage, especially if the space doubles as a workshop. Instead, store your firewood outdoors, preferably several feet away from your home and any welding tools.
Firewood is most functional when it’s kept dry. If you keep your wood in an environment that gets damp or moderately humid – like a garage – the wood might lose its ability to burn. Wet wood also attracts pests like termites that you don’t want in your house.
Store your firewood outside in the open air and cover it with a tarp or shed during wet seasons.
You shouldn’t store pet food in your garage – even when it’s in an unopened bag.
Mice will happily welcome the challenge of chewing through the bag and feasting on your furry friend’s kibble. Once a rodent has chewed up the bag, other nasty critters like cockroaches and flies may swarm in to join the feast.
We recommend storing your pet’s food in a plastic container or metal trash can. Ensure these storage containers have sealed and secured lids to keep pests out.
Storing old or unused clothing in your garage is asking for a mess.
Fabric attracts pesky moths that feed on your leather, felt, silk, wool, and fur clothing. These bugs will chew through your favorite winter coat, leaving irreparable damage.
You should also avoid storing leather clothing items in your garage. When exposed to moisture, leather can become brittle, develop mildew, peel, or even rot. We suggest storing your jackets, belts, boots, and chaps in a tightly sealed container indoors to keep them in good shape.
Rugs and Carpet Samples
Never leave carpet samples or rolled-up rugs out in your garage.
These items welcome vermin to create a cozy, disease-filled nest in your home. They also absorb moisture from the air, becoming smelly and moldy over time.
Instead of storing rugs and carpets outside, wrap the items in a clean plastic trash bag and store them under a bed or in an indoor closet.
Items That Can Deteriorate
As tempting as it is to store your unopened wine bottles in the garage, this isn’t a good idea.
The temperature fluctuations in a garage can alter the composition and taste of wine. The wine will oxidize and develop an unappealing flavor. Sweltering garage temperatures can also cause your wine to over-ferment.
For these reasons, you’re better off preserving your favorite reds and whites in a sealed indoor cooler.
While storing canned foods in your garage may be convenient, it’s not always the best option – especially if you live in a hot climate.
Canned foods can spoil and lose nutrients when stored at temperatures above 75°F.
Can lids are also subject to rust when exposed to frequent moisture and humid conditions. Rust contamination will damage your food and potentially create a health risk.
Keep your canned foods safe, healthy, and fresh by storing them in a cool, dry area.
Even if your dry food items don’t expire for years, you shouldn’t keep them out in your garage.
Food items of any variety attract pests that will weasel into your space for a feast.
Pantry items like crackers and baking supplies are more likely to develop mold or go stale in the damp environment of many garages.
Instead, you should keep these items in an indoor cabinet. This is an excellent way to reduce the risk of spoilage and pest infestation, even for items you don’t use frequently.
Temperature fluctuations can alter the composition of paint and render it useless.
Even the paint cans you haven’t opened are subject to change as the temperature around them goes up and down.
Instead of keeping paint cans in your garage, keep them in a dry, temperature-controlled area away from the threat of rust. Furnished basements or bedroom closets are generally suitable for paint storage.
No matter where you keep leftover paint cans, ensure they’re tightly and securely sealed.
Just as you don’t want your cellphone or laptop to lie in the sun, you don’t want electronics to face high heat exposure.
For this reason, you shouldn’t store such devices in your garage.
Hot temperatures can cause your items to short out and become inoperable. Additionally, temperature fluctuations, in general, can cause hardware damage.
Garages also pose an obvious threat of moisture to your electronic devices. If you want to keep these items in great shape, store them in a closed plastic storage container.
Don’t store your vinyl record collection in your garage.
Records have grooves that can hold moisture and develop mildew damage. Record sleeves consist of paper or cardboard, which can rot or mold in moist conditions.
If your garage gets steamy and hot during the summer, your vinyl records might warp or melt, leaving them unable to play your beloved tunes.
Keep your records safe and clean by storing them in a cool, dry place or airtight container.
It’s never a good idea to store wooden furniture in your garage.
Wood is a porous material that expands and contracts with the humidity level. In a moist, hot garage, wood will swell and shrink to the point of cracking – damaging the piece’s appearance and structural integrity.
Additionally, leaks and water tracked into the garage could cause your furniture to rot. You can preserve your wooden furniture by ensuring it has a dry resting place away from significant temperature fluctuations.
Paper and water don’t mix – so passports, birth certificates, and insurance documents won’t fare well in a humid garage.
Avoid the pain of getting new copies of your essential documents by keeping these items indoors. We suggest storing them in a dry, easily accessible place, such as a closet or drawer inside your house.
Storing precious keepsakes in your garage is asking for heartbreak. This is why you should never stash old photographs or photo albums anywhere but indoors.
Printed photographs develop on various types of paper, which will deteriorate when exposed to humidity for too long.
Avoid losing your family’s precious memories by keeping photographs stored in a tightly sealed container indoors. Keep your photo albums in a cool, dry area like a bookshelf or cabinet.
If you want to hold onto those old cardboard boxes from your move, avoid stashing them in your garage.
Like any other paper product, cardboard is subject to mold and deterioration when it gets wet. As the material decomposes, it also releases nasty methane gas.
Worse yet, creepy-crawlies like roaches, crickets, termites, and silverfish will crowd into your garage to snack on cardboard.
Instead, store cardboard boxes in a cool, dry place or dispose of them at a recycling facility.
An Extra Refrigerator Can Increase Energy Bills
Many homeowners have extra refrigerators in their garages to store frozen foods or cases of drinks.
However, you should avoid this practice if you want to cut down your monthly energy bill.
Garages aren’t typically insulated, so they’ll fluctuate significantly depending on the outdoor temperature. Garage refrigerators must work especially hard during hot weather to keep items cool or frozen.
For this reason, that outdoor fridge might run up your summer energy costs.
If you really want some extra food storage in your garage, invest in a garage-ready refrigerator. These appliances have enhanced temperature sensors to keep food fresh with less energy consumption.
Things You Can Store in Your Garage
At this point, you might be wondering – can I keep anything in my garage?
Luckily for your home’s organization and cleanliness, the answer is yes.
Some items you can safely store in your garage are:
- Outdoor tools like rakes, shovels, hoses, and brooms
- Containers like flower pots, buckets, and wheelbarrows
- Sports equipment like bats, rackets, balls, and gloves
- Holiday decorations
- Outdoor patio furniture
- Lawn mowers
- Lawn chairs
Remember that any item you keep in your garage for a prolonged period is susceptible to moisture, temperature fluctuations, and exposure to pests. For these reasons, you should frequently clean your garage and check for leaks and spills.
With a clean garage and appropriately stored items, you’ll be on your way to happier, healthier, and safer homeownership.