15 Common Household Items You Should Never Store in the Basement

Unfinished basements and crawl spaces seem like the perfect storage spots. Since you don’t use those areas for everyday living, it makes sense to keep holiday decorations, patio furniture, and other household items there.

But not all your excess stuff should be stored in your basement. In fact, the following household items may get ruined or create major safety risks. One common item could be especially hazardous (page 10).

1. Books

colection of books

Books | ConstantinosZ/iStock/Getty Images

It’s tempting to store books in the basement. But silverfish love making their homes inside the pages of books, which can ruin them. Keep your favorite books on a bookshelf in the main part of your house. Then, find a way to creatively display your other books elsewhere. Donate the rest to your local library.

Next: You’ll get a nasty surprise next time you unroll this item.

2. Rugs


Rugs | JackF/iStock/Getty Images

Rolled up rugs are cumbersome and difficult to store. But moisture and mold can seep into the carpet fibers, which naturally absorb the smell. Another issue with storing rugs and carpers and in the basement? Mice might make their homes inside and ruin them.

Next: Keep this outside with the animals and you won’t regret it. 

3. Firewood

Firewood pile

Firewood pile | vili 45/Getty Images

It seems like a good idea to bring your firewood inside the basement for storage, especially when there’s a blizzard in the forecast. However, keeping this item inside is basically like inviting pests to take up residence in your home. Firewood from outside almost always has insects you won’t want creeping around in the basement.

Next: A good excuse to practice minimalism

4. Furniture

Old wooden furniture

Vintage furniture | BarrySheene/iStock/Getty Images

Certain furniture doesn’t fare well in damp, musty basements. Real wood pieces can warp in the dampness and anything upholstered might get affected by mold or mildew. Store extra furniture in a moisture-free, temperature-controlled space instead. Too much stuff? Sell it online and make some cash.

Next: Opt for vacuum-sealed bags for these necessities. 

5. Clothing

Clothing boxes

Clothing boxes | urfinguss/iStock/Getty Images

All of that out of season or wrong sized clothing shouldn’t be kept in the basement or crawl space. For one thing, it might get wet if water ever seeps in. It’s also likely to attract moths. Out of space for extra clothing? Try stashing it under the bed with vacuum-sealed bags that slide under the bed. You can also use this opportunity to donate anything you’re realistically not going to wear again.

Next: You don’t need those old VHS tapes anyway.

6. Electronics

DVD player

DVD player | Armastas/iStock/Getty Images

Dampness and moisture can damage any electronic items like CD players, televisions, discs, or computers. If you have electronic items you don’t need anymore, look up when your town or city has electronics recycling days and get rid of them that way.

Next: Empty-nesters need to reevaluate their storage items.

7. Plush toys


Toys | Avosb/iStock/Getty Images

That extra bin of toys? It probably shouldn’t be kept in the basement. Dust mites can make homes in stuffed animals and other plush children’s items, plus the fabric will absorb any musty odors or mold. Your best bet for storing these types of items is putting them in sealed airtight containers. Better yet, donate them to needy families instead of keeping them around collecting dust once your kids outgrow them.

Next: You’ll want to hide these — but not in the basement.

8. Important paperwork

Important documents

Important documents | BackyardProduction/iStock/Getty Images

It may seem like common sense to keep important documents such as passports, birth certificates, and deeds away from moisture, but some people store these types of items in the basement — and that’s a mistake. Instead, safeguard important papers in airtight containers or better yet, in a fireproof box in your closet.

Next: You don’t want to sleep with mold someday.

9. Linens

Sheets in linen closet

Linen closet | Hajakely/iStock/Getty Images

Natural fabrics such as linen, wool, and silk can attract mold, which is why sheets, towels, or other types of fabric don’t fare well in non-temperature-controlled environments. Store these extras in your linen closet or donate anything that you’re not using.

Next: Do NOT burn down your house with these.

10. Paint and other household liquids

Cans of Paints

Paint cans | hroe/Getty Images

Storing flammable items such as propane and old paint cans near heat sources in the basement can be a potential fire hazard. These items should never get placed next to your furnace, water heater, or dryer. The safest course of action? Keep anything flammable far away from your house, preferably in a detached shed.

Next: Ruining this household item will make you cry.

11. Photo albums

Photo album

Photo album | halfpoint/iStock/Getty Images

Boxes of photos or photo albums from the past should never be stored where there’s any chance of moisture damage. Take the time to preserve these precious memories in frames and keep albums in the main part of your home. Investing in proper photo storage boxes can mean the difference between preserving memories and losing them.

Next: Don’t ignore mountains of this stuff.

12. Excessive clutter


Clutter | Yukikaefb/iStock/Getty Images

We’re all guilty of stashing our excess stuff in the basement – but how much of it do you really need? If you have mountains of clutter in your basement and you don’t even know what’s there, it may be time to schedule a deep clean. Then you’ll use what you have instead of just holding onto stuff for no reason.

Next: Mice love to eat memories.

13. Handmade crafts or artwork

Arts and crafts

Crafts | Anastasiia Boriagina/iStock/Getty Images

So you saved your kids art from preschool — that’s adorable! Don’t let it get ruined by keeping it in the basement or crawl space, where it could get damaged by moisture or mice. Organize their art into airtight bins and keep it in a closet or office instead.

Next: Your furry family members will thank you.

14. Pet food

Pet food

Pet food | pedphoto36pm/iStock/Getty Images

That industrial-sized bag of dog food, bird seed, or any other type of open food product is like a magnet for little critters like mice. Don’t keep this type of thing in the basement – instead, invest in sealed plastic containers for excess pet or animal food.

Next: The basement makes these items go bad fast.

15. Certain food

groceries in a green reusable shopping bag

Groceries | diane39/Getty Images

Canned goods and some vegetables may fare well in the basement or crawl space, but certain perishable foods should not be left down where it could get damp. Any open food items could also attract rodents into your home. When in doubt, keep food items in the pantry and not in the basement.