8 Items You Should Never Store In Your Attic, Garage, Or Basement

Anything Flammable or Hazardous
Photo: JamesBrey/Getty Images

If you're lucky enough to have a roomy attic, garage, or basement, they can offer tons of storage space. But because of weather, critters, and location, these areas of your home aren't ideal storage for everything. Even if you're the most organized and cautious homeowner, you should never store certain items in these areas of the home if you want them to stay in quality shape. Here's what you shouldn't store there and the best uses for those spaces.

Potential for Damage

The main reason you shouldn't store items in these spots is the potential for water damage. Not only are attics, garages, and basements easy targets for flooding and accidents like fallen trees during storms, but climate plays a big role in this aspect as well. If you live in the South, you understand humidity. Most areas of the South experience muggy conditions the majority of the year, which can cause water damage. But it's not just water damage that can occur. Heat can also cause significant damage and even ruin some items.

It also goes without saying that animals can get into your attic, garage, or basement. Whether birds or moths in the attic, a raccoon in the garage, or mice in the basement, critters aren't concerned with taking care of your belongings.

Smarter Storage

As a general rule of thumb, nothing in your attic, garage, or basement should be left out in the open. Anything that's safe to store in these rooms should still be put away in an airtight plastic container with a lid to keep environmental elements out. Cardboard boxes will deteriorate due to heat and water, and animals and bugs will snack on them or possibly use them for nesting materials in the meantime.

A few more universal storage rules: Don't stow away anything that's very important to you. Put anything you store on shelves a few feet off the ground in case of flooding in the basement or garage. Garages are prone to break-ins, so you don't want any valuables in there anyway, and because of environmental factors that can deteriorate special items, you don't want cherished belongings going in the basement or attic either. Here are some items you should never ever store in the attic, garage, or basement.

01 of 08

Photos, Documents, Reading Materials, and Artwork

Photos, Documents, Reading Materials, and Artwork
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Old photos, documents, books, newspapers, magazines, artwork, and paintings are all off-limits for the attic, garage, or basement. These items are negatively affected by heat, humidity, bugs, and even light. Heat can cause paint to crack and expand or contract on paintings. Light, humidity, and heat can cause serious discoloration and even mildew on photos, documents, and reading materials of any kind. You know those little silverfish you see poking around your drains and other dark, wet areas of the house? They, as well as moths, will chew up these items. Remember, nothing of true value should be stored in these spaces, so any old photographs, official documents like passports, sentimental artwork, newspaper clippings, or educational degrees should end up in the attic, garage, or basement.

02 of 08

Things Made of Fabric, Including Leather

Things Made of Fabric, Including Leather
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Meaningful fabrics like old wedding dresses, vintage quilts, and baby clothes should never be stored in these rooms, as water damage, heat, and moths will ruin them. Stuffed animals and mattresses fall in this category as well. Leather furniture or clothing will crack and discolor due to environmental reasons, and rugs of any fabric will deteriorate and fall victim to moths, bugs, and birds looking for a dark, cool space. Anything that's made of fabric, whether furniture, clothing, décor, or novelty items, should be cleaned and stored according to professional standards. It's best to store these items in the house in plastic containers if you want to avoid mold, mildew, discoloration, and moth holes.

03 of 08

Wooden Furniture

Wooden Furniture
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Nowhere to put Mama's antique mahogany side tables, but love them so much you can't let go? Don't store them in the attic, garage, or basement. Humidity and heat can cause the wood to mildew, mold, expand, and crack. Yikes.

04 of 08

Old Electronics

Old Electronics
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You wouldn't leave your current iPhone in a place that gets too hot or humid, and the same is true for older, less advanced technology. If you're saving that television with the VCR slot to watch old home videos, heat and moisture might ruin them. Store any outdated electronics indoors, or donate or recycle them.

05 of 08

Anything Flammable or Hazardous

Anything Flammable or Hazardous
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We don't always consider all the possible outcomes when storing something out of sight and out of mind, so it could be easy to accidentally store flammable items near heat sources in the garage, attic, or basement. Paint, cleaning products, gas, propane, and garden chemicals shouldn't be stored out in the open in these areas, and especially shouldn't be stored anywhere near the water heater or furnace. Even if you're storing extra paint away from a gas-related source, temperature changes can alter the color of your paint, and water damage can rust the can. If you nick a wall and need touch-ups, you want the paint you saved to match the wall, so do yourself a favor and store paint indoors in a cool place away from any gas-related sources (including those in the kitchen and laundry room). Southern Living's Grumpy Gardener has his own cautionary tale about finding old, extremely dangerous garden chemicals in his mother's basement. If you have hazardous or toxic materials around like Grumpy's Mama, locate a local organization that disposes of them safely, rather than trying to do it yourself.

06 of 08

Food (For You and Your Pets)

Food (For You and Your Pets)
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This one is only relevant for the basement or garage, but it deserves to be said. Storing any kind of food, including your pets', in these areas is basically asking pests to come over for a dinner party. Even canned food isn't safe in the garage or basement. Temperature changes and humidity can spoil canned food more easily than you might think. Stay safe, healthy, and pest-free, and store it all inside.

07 of 08


White pillar candles and greenery on a mantle

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This one is relevant for the attic. Avoid storing extra candles in the attic with other seasonal décor. In the summer months, they may melt or get damaged from the attic’s extreme heat. Store these in a cupboard or pantry.

08 of 08

Stacks of Paper Goods

Handmade paper stacked.

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The garage or basement may seem like a good place to store recyclables and boxes you think you may need again, but pests love to make nests in these open stacks of paper or cardboard boxes. Move them to covered recycling bins and discard them regularly. Store stacks of paper napkins, cups, and plates that have been opened in a pantry.

While there are plenty of things to avoid storing in these areas, you can still make the most of the space. The garage is great for things that are made to withstand the outdoors, like gardening supplies, patio furniture and decor, outdoor toys, camping gear, tools, bikes, and sports equipment. The basement and the attic are great, out-of-the-way spots for luggage, holiday and seasonal decorations, wreaths, metal and plastic items, and kitchen items like pots, pans, and dishes you use once a year.

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