Here’s a crazy statistic: one study found that almost 1 in 4 Americans can’t fit a car in their garage because they have too much clutter.
Coming up with clever storage solutions for your stuff can be tricky. It seems like there are never enough closets and cabinets. For most people, the default solution is to shove stuff into your basement, attic, or garage (if you’re lucky enough to have them).
But letting your garage become a cluttered catastrophe isn’t just bad from a design standpoint — it can also damage certain items or put you at risk for a house fire. Ahead, discover the most common household items that you should never store in the garage.
Keeping partially used cans of paint on hand for touch-ups is a good idea, but storing them in the garage could ruin them. Uninsulated garages can fluctuate in temperature from freezing to boiling hot — and that can ruin the color and consistency of the paint. Plus, putting the cans on the floor could leave unsightly rust marks.
Instead, store your paint inside the house or find a place to dispose of it safely.
Next: You probably keep this item in your garage — and it’s a major fire hazard.
2. Lawn mower
The only safe place to store your lawn mower is in the shed. Most people don’t realize that these are a huge fire hazard.
“Not only is this piece of equipment deadly while engaged, but it has the potential to cause harm after it’s been stored,” Gene Caballero, co-founder of YourGreenPal.com, told realtor.com. “The exhaust and engine on mowers can stay at 240 degrees for up to 10 to 15 minutes after being turned off.”
Next: Keeping this in the garage is a mistake.
3. Extra clothing
If you’re like many Americans, then you might not have enough room in your closet for summer and winter clothing simultaneously. Still, keeping all those extra sweaters and jackets in the garage isn’t a good plan. If you store them in plastic bins, then all the fumes from the garage (including car exhaust) will seep in and make your clothes stink.
Need to save some room? Try space-saver vacuum storage bags that you can slide under your bed.
Next: Keeping this item in your garage could literally cost you money.
4. Extra refrigerators
The garage may seem like the perfect place to put your beer or soda fridge, but the constant temperature changes will make your fridge work harder to keep your items cold during hot months. Plus, fridges don’t work efficiently when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Need an extra fridge? Keep it inside somewhere, or better yet, try a few fridge organization tips to make extra room in your kitchen fridge.
Next: You may have to throw these items away when you store them in the garage.
5. Canned goods
According to Good Housekeeping, canned items have a “shorter shelf life in any room that gets hotter than 70 degrees.” If you live in a warm climate, then your garage probably hits those temperatures all the time.
It’s smart to keep extra canned goods on hand in case of emergencies, but don’t keep them in the garage.
Next: It’s better to keep this type of item in the house.
6. Electronic items
If you have extra stereo equipment, computers, or televisions, you should find a humidity-free space to keep them so they don’t get damaged. If you’re looking to get rid of broken items, check your township for electronic recycling days rather than holding onto them or throwing them in the regular trash (which may be illegal).
Next: This is another huge fire hazard you may not know about.
7. Propane tanks
Talk about a fire hazard!
Extra propane tanks for camping or grilling should never be stored near cars in the garage. Instead, keep your propane tanks in a secure and well-ventilated area — like outside — to minimize your risk.
Next: Keeping this in your garage could invite animals to take up residence in your house.
8. Pet food
Open bags of food, whether they’re for people or animals, is a sure way to attract unwanted animals such as mice and squirrels into your garage. Keep all pet food in sealed containers inside the house if you can to deter critters from making a home in your garage.
Next: This can get ruined when you store it in the garage.
9. Old furniture
Wood can become warped when it’s exposed to extreme temperature changes and moisture in your garage. Also, rodents like to make their homes in safe, dark places like dresser drawers. Your best bet for old furniture is keeping it inside the house or selling or donating old items you don’t want anymore.
Next: Temperature is so important for this type of item — so don’t keep it in the garage.
There’s a reason people spend so much money building temperature-controlled wine fridges. For peak taste, wine should be stored between 59 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and never in humidity. Deviating from these conditions could cause your expensive wine to spoil and become bitter or sour.
Next: Bugs love to hide in here, so never store it in the garage.
It may not be immediately apparent, but storing firewood in the garage can attract bugs such as termites, who will then make themselves at home in your house. The best place to store firewood is on an elevated platform outside and under a tarp.
Keep wood away from your house — next to a shed or on the edge of your property line is best.
Next: Put this in airtight containers if you must keep it in the garage.
Collecting cardboard for recycling day is a good thing, but keeping it in the garage could prove problematic. Spiders and silverfish often make their homes in cardboard and can then make their way into your home.
Want to keep cardboard on hand? Seal it up in airtight plastic containers to avoid getting pests where you don’t want them.
Next: These can get damaged in the garage.
Remember a time back before all your photos were stored in a cloud? Preserve these precious memories by storing old photographs in temperatures below 75 degrees Fahrenheit — which rules out most attics and garages.
Next: It’s a bad idea to keep these in the garage.
No, it’s not a good idea to just leave your uncovered Monet out in the garage. Drastic temperature changes can cause the canvas to stretch and the paint to flake or crack. Always display your artwork inside the house or store it properly inside or in a temperature-controlled storage facility.
Next: Take these to a safe place — not the garage.
15. Important paperwork
Passports, wills, deeds, birth certificates — all this type of paperwork should be kept inside in a fireproof box and not in the garage. Moisture can damage these items and replacing them may be costly and time-consuming.
Another option? Keep it in a safe deposit box at the bank.
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