Things to Never Store in Your Garage
While garage storage is convenient, many homeowners will convert the extra space into an onsite storage unit as they accumulate items over time. Prevent the garage from becoming a dumping ground for clutter, and eliminate potential safety hazards along the way.
What is the first place that comes to mind when you have limited space in your home and need a place to store sports equipment or rarely used household items? Of course, the garage! Not so fast. Many valuable possessions can be damaged when stored in the garage, and others can endanger your home or family.
You might be amazed to find that a lot of what you have in your garage right now doesn’t belong there. Here is a probable list of some of those items:
● Hazardous Substances
● Food and Drinks
● Pest-Attracting Items
● Possessions of Significant Value
● Electronics Paper Products
Continue reading to find out which items you should find a new home for if they are currently stored in your garage.
Those roaring winter fires require fuel on cold winter nights, and it’s tempting to stack your firewood in the garage for easy access. Resist the urge: pests can infiltrate your garage and eventually migrate into your home with that cord of wood. The best bet? To keep your firewood dry, stack it on an elevated rack away from your home and cover it with a tarp.
Are you falling short of space in your kitchen cabinets or pantry? Don’t put the extra canned food in your garage. The natural conditions of your garage make it unsuitable for food storage. The USDA suggests storing canned foods in a cool, dry place, and most garages fall short on both counts. Damp garages may cause tin cans to rust, whereas a hot garage that exceeds 85 degrees may increase the risk of spoiled canned food. If you’ve run out of non-perishable storage space, now might be a good time to reorganize your kitchen shelves.
This is a definite no-no. Always keep any extra propane tanks outside, whether for a camp stove or grill. Propane tanks are not intended to be stored in enclosed spaces. If the valve fails, propane gas can seep into the garage, posing an asphyxiation risk as well as a fire hazard. Once propane has filled the garage, a spark or pilot light can ignite the gas and cause your house to catch fire.
A Spare Refrigerator
If you care about energy conservation—and who doesn’t? —don’t keep a spare fridge in your garage. Refrigerators work best at temperatures ranging from 65 to 78 degrees. During summer, a non-climate-controlled garage can reach temperatures above 100 degrees, pressuring the fridge to work overtime to keep the required cool—and running up your utility bills in the process. The refrigerator does no better in the winter, as even its insulated doors cannot keep perishable foods from freezing.
If you wish to save that antique furniture for your friend, then make plans to give it to her right away rather than storing it in your garage. Temperature and humidity fluctuations can wreak havoc on wood, causing the grain to swell and contract alternately. This can cause damage such as veneer delamination and warped wood. Some wood items can become completely unusable after only a few months in a garage.
If you do not want that old gaming console, printer, or computer, but it still has some life in it, consider giving it to a neighbor’s child or donating it instead of storing it in the garage. The high humidity levels in a typical garage spell disaster for electronics, which risk damaging their internal printed circuit boards. Even if the humidity does not zap your old electronics, they may become home to tiny insects that can wiggle inside and damage components. Make sure to keep those gadgets inside or get rid of them as soon as possible.
Bedding and Clothing
Fabric’s natural enemies are heat, humidity, and insects. This three-pronged threat, which is all too common in garages, exposes clothing and bedding to mold, mildew, and other damage. If you want to protect something, don’t just throw them in the garage, whether it’s a box of baby clothes, last summer’s dresses, or your wedding gown. This also applies to an extra mattress. Even if it’s well-wrapped, tiny insects and car fumes can get in.
The best way to keep your prized photographs safe is to keep them in a cool, dry, and dark location, such as under your bed or at the back of an interior closet. Leaving them in the garage invites deterioration and can result in a jumble of faded and stuck-together photos. Keep your treasured memories safe by not storing them in the garage.
Paper products are the most attractive to mice and chewing insects such as termites and silverfish. If you want to keep something, whether it’s your important tax documents, your comics collection, or the volume of encyclopedias you inherited from your aunt, keep it out of the garage. Even if they avoid paper-eating pests, high garage temperatures can cause books and documents to curl and crack.
Paint can separate when stored improperly (for example, in an heated garage). In extreme temperatures, even unopened cans are at risk of spoiling. If the weather is nice and you’re painting the house, it’s fine to leave a half-full paint can in the garage overnight. If you don’t plan on painting again for a few months, tap the lid tightly shut and store it in a basement or utility closet until you need it.
While you can store gasoline in your garage, if you don’t do it correctly, you end up endangering yourself and your home. Many local fire codes limit gasoline storage to no more than 25 gallons. Use only approved gasoline storage containers, and place the gas can on a piece of plywood rather than directly on the concrete floor. Ensure it’s out of direct sunlight and out of children’s reach.
You should never store an oil-soaked rag in your garage. Spontaneous combustion (and a devastating fire) can occur when oily rags are held where the internal heat generated cannot escape; spontaneous combustion (and a disastrous fire) can occur.
Your child’s favorite toys, particularly stuffed animals and other plush toys, should be kept somewhere other than the garage. If given the opportunity, dust mites, other insects, and even mice will destroy these childhood treasures. If you must store toys in the garage, keep them in airtight containers.
Rugs and Carpeting
Insects and mice love rolled-up rugs and carpeting, so add them to the list of things you should never store in your garage. The carpet and carpet fibers will also absorb moisture and odor, which can ruin them if left for an extended period. You may also read our article on How to Get Rid of Mice in Walls
Condenser dryers should not be stored in the garage because they are susceptible to freezing temperatures. In theory, the temperature in the room should be higher than 5°C. If it is lower than this, the water that should condense in the condenser container may begin to concentrate on other cold surfaces, causing the wet laundry to feel warm.
If the room temperature is too low, some of the most recent electronic dryers may even display a fault code and stop working. Tumble dryers with vents are more likely to work at low temperatures but read the instructions carefully first.
Be aware that condensation may occur due to the heat and steam generated during use. This can condense on the cold walls, windows, and cold metal appliances. They can potentially be stored in the garage, but proceed with caution.
This can cause motor damage, mold, and rust in the worst-case scenario. Make certain that the garage is well ventilated. Check plumbing and drainage regulations to ensure water drains to the proper location. Washing machines, like other appliances, can be affected by temperature extremes, either by overheating or by the pipes freezing.
When storing your freezer in the garage, you should exercise caution just as you would with washing machines. Most freezers have a climate class of SN and can operate in temperatures ranging from 10°C to 32°C. Every freezer has a climate class rating that indicates the best external operating temperature. Examine the directions or the rating plate.
The shed is the only safe place to keep your lawnmower. “Not only is this piece of equipment lethal while in use, even when it is stored, but it also has potential to cause harm,” the exhaust and engine on mowers can remain at 240 degrees for close to 10 to 15 minutes after being turned off.” Most people are unaware that these are a major fire hazard.
Vinyl Records and Tape-based Film
Make a point of digitizing as much as you can. Keep anything of personal or historical significance, such as vinyl records or 8mm films, as far away from the garage as possible. Pests love cardboard; vinyl warps in hot weather, and 8mm film molds and degrades in hot weather. Mice and other pests nest in celluloid, and vinyl records become ruffled like Grandma’s doilies in garage heat.
Having enough space in your home can be difficult at times, making the garage an appealing storage area for various items. If you need to store items in the garage, remember to research and refer back to this article if you have any questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is safe to keep in the garage?
The garage is the ideal location for tools and appliances only used outside. Examples are shovels, hoses, outdoor extension cords, lawnmowers, gardening tools, flowerpots, and other items. Bags of potting soil, buckets of ice melt, and other bulky outdoor supplies are good garage storage candidates.
What items should you not keep in your garage during the winter?
Fluctuating temperatures and humidity are not ideal for fabric storage. Mold can grow on it, and rodents enjoy chewing on it. It’s tempting to store sleeping bags in the garage with other non-fabric camping supplies, but don’t! Sleeping bags, clothes, and other fabric items should be kept inside your home. Also read our article on Winter Home Maintenance Tips for more details on this.
Is it safe to keep clothes in the garage?
Cool, dark, and dry conditions are ideal for clothing storage. Because of extreme heat, the attic or garage may not be the best option depending on your climate. If you plan to use a basement, make sure it is not prone to flooding or excessive moisture.