Common Household Items You Should Never Store in the Basement

Basements and crawl spaces seem like the perfect storage spots. Since you don’t use those areas every day, it makes sense to keep holiday decor, patio furniture, and other 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. Rugs


Rugs | JackF/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Wrap your rolled carpet in brown craft paper and store it on its end in a climate-controlled environment like a bedroom closet.

Rolled up rugs are cumbersome, and moisture can seep into the carpet fibers, which absorb the smell. Another issue with storing rugs in the basement? Mice can make their homes inside.

Next: You won’t even recognize this item after storing it.

2. Candles

candles burning

Actual fire isn’t the only thing that melts candles. | muenz/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Store candles in a temperature-controlled space like a closet.

If you store extra pillar candles or tapers in a basement or crawl space, they could very well melt during warmer months. Of course, this depends on where you live. But no one likes discovering a box of wax.

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

3. Important paperwork

Important documents

Important documents | BackyardProduction/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: File important papers in airtight containers or a fireproof box in your closet.

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.

Next: Keep this outside with the animals.

4. Firewood

Firewood pile

Firewood pile | vili 45/Getty Images

Instead: Stack wood in a dry, breezy area outside, about 20 feet from the nearest door to the home.

Keeping firewood inside invites pests to take up residence. Plus, the wood won’t “age well” inside with less airflow; the logs will create more smoke when burned.

Next: Your furry family members will thank you.

5. Pet food

Pet food

Pet food | pedphoto36pm/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Use a sealed plastic container for excess pet food, and store it the kitchen or laundry room.

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. The basement is not the place for it.

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

6. Clothing

Clothing boxes

Clothing boxes | urfinguss/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Stash extra clothing inside vacuum-sealed bags under beds.

Out-of-season clothing shouldn’t be kept in a basement or crawl space. It can get wet and attract moths.

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

7. Electronics

DVD player

DVD player | Armastas/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Take advantage of your city’s next electronics recycling day.

Dampness and moisture can damage electronic items like televisions or computers. And how many old CD players or VCRs do you really need?

Next: An insect will pop out when you open this item.

8. Books

colection of books

Books | ConstantinosZ/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Keep your favorite books on a bookshelf in the main part of your house.

It’s tempting to store books in the basement. But silverfish love making their homes inside the pages of books. Find a way to creatively display your favorite books. Donate the rest to your local library.

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

9. Plush toys


Toys | Avosb/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Seal stuffed animals and toys in airtight containers. Stack under beds or in closets.

Dust mites can live in stuffed animals and other plush children’s items, plus the fabric will absorb any musty odors. You can always donate toys to needy families as well.

Next: Do NOT burn down your house with this hazardous item.

10. Paint and other household liquids

Cans of Paints

Paint cans | hroe/Getty Images

Instead: Keep anything flammable far away from your house, preferably in a detached shed.

Storing flammable items such as propane and old paint cans near heat sources in the basement is a huge fire hazard. These items should rest near a furnace, water heater, or dryer.

Next: Ruining this household item will make you cry.

11. Photo albums

Photo album

Photo album | halfpoint/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Reserve precious memories in frames and keep albums in the main parts of your home.

Boxes of photos or photo albums from the past should never be stored where there’s any chance of moisture. Investing in proper photo storage boxes can mean the difference between preserving memories and losing them.

Next: Mice love to eat memories.

12. Handmade crafts or artwork

Arts and crafts

Crafts | Anastasiia Boriagina/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Organize kids’ art in airtight bins and store them in a closet or office.

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 moisture or mice will damage it.

Next: A good excuse to practice minimalism

13. Furniture

Old wooden furniture

Vintage furniture | BarrySheene/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Store extra furniture in a moisture-free, temperature-controlled space. Too much stuff? Sell it online and make some cash.

Certain furniture doesn’t fare well in musty basements. Real wood pieces can warp in the dampness and anything upholstered might get affected by mold or mildew.

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

14. Linens

Sheets in linen closet

Linen closet | Hajakely/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Store these extras in your linen closet.

Natural fabrics such as linen, wool, and silk can attract mold, which is why sheets, towels, or other fabrics don’t fare well in non-temperature-controlled environments.

Next: Don’t ignore mountains of this stuff.

15. Excessive clutter


Clutter | Yukikaefb/iStock/Getty Images

Instead: Schedule a deep clean to throw out and donate the clutter.

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, 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: The basement makes these items go bad fast.

16. Certain food

groceries in a green reusable shopping bag

Groceries | diane39/Getty Images

Instead: Keep food items in the pantry and not in the basement.

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.