What NOT to Store in Your Garage (and Why)

Stacks of junk stored in a garage.

I remember when I was a kid, my parents' garage was a place to store EVERYTHING except cars. It wasn’t until after my parents demolished their garage and built a bigger one that I realized the garage was originally intended for motor vehicles. You're not alone if your garage has turned into more of a repair shop, barn, or storage shed, but there are still a few things that you should know about what NOT to store in there. Here is a list of 10 things that should be removed immediately.

1. Wine

For those of you who like to end the day with an enjoyable glass of Merlot, you should know that where you store the wine is just as important as the wine itself. If you’re planning on keeping your wine for more than a few months, it needs to be stored in a temperature controlled area. Ideally, this room should stay around 55°F and have a set, controlled level of humidity.

In your garage, there is absolutely no way to regulate the temperature or the humidity. Remember, just because your garage may feel like a cellar doesn’t mean it works like one. So keep the wine away and look for a more appropriate place, like the basement.

2. Propane Tanks

A pair of propane bottles sitting outside; one rusty, one clean.

The garage may seem like the ideal place to keep your propane tanks, but you’re taking a big risk by doing this. In the summer months, your garage can get up to 20°F hotter than the outside temperature. In these circumstances, propane tanks very often leak due to a half-open valve and will ignite, causing a dangerous explosion right in your home. It's far safer to keep propane tanks in an outdoor storage shed away from the house. And make sure that valve is shut all the way!

3. Photos and Significant Documents

Those boxes full of old photos and important documents can be an eyesore. It may seem tempting to just let them take up residence in the garage where they're out of your hair, but resist that temptation. Cardboard boxes are an ideal refuge for spiders and insects; they’ll make themselves right at home and could damage all the contents inside.

Extreme temperature changes, humidity, and moisture can also make all those photos and papers cling together and not easily separate without taking the face off of your Aunt Selma. Storage for these items is best inside the house in a fire-safe box.

4. Paint

Stacks of used paint cans.

Due to the fluctuations of temperature in the garage, paint will have a difficult time trying to survive. Paint should always be stored in a cool place, like the basement, but not somewhere too cool that it freezes. Keep it off the ground and on the shelves. With proper storage, your paint can last up to five years.

5. Hazardous Material

For very similar reasons as the propane tanks, hazardous materials of any kind do not belong in your garage. A hot, enclosed room is never a good idea when trying to store these dangerous chemicals. Any number of things could go wrong at any moment. Keep you and your family safe and store them in an outdoor area with adequate ventilation, away from direct heat.

6. Refrigerator

A stack of water bottles in the refrigerator.

What?! Did I really just say that? Yes, yes I did. Although it’s very common to keep an old refrigerator in the garage for surplus food storage, it definitely isn’t a wise decision. These appliances are meant to be kept in temperatures ranging between 67°F to 77°F. When those sizzling summer months roll in, and your garage is turning into your own personal sauna, your refrigerator is going to be working extra hard to keep your food cold.

At the end of the month when your power bill shows up, you’re going to be wishing you kicked that fridge to the curb because all that hard work your appliance has been doing is going to empty your pockets devastatingly fast. Several companies will come pick up your refrigerator for free when you buy a new one from them, so don't pass on that opportunity!

7. Old Furniture

Maybe you want to hold onto that exhausted furniture so you can refurbish and sell for profit one day or maybe you're just saving it for someone in need. Either way, the garage is an unsuitable place for furniture storage. With your wooden goods, all the temperature changes will cause the wood to expand and contract and will eventually dismantle your piece. Couches and sofas will become a new home for mice, critters, or other rodents. Best to donate this furniture right away so as not to face any of these issues.

8. Pet Food

A close-up image of pet food.

You know those rodents that we just talked about? The ones that are living in your old couch? Well, they love to eat your pet’s food! If you leave a bag in the garage, sealed or not, those mice are going to chew right through it and enjoy an exquisite buffet of kibble. If you're looking to avoid these critters, airtight containers and pantry closets are your best friends.

9. Clothing and Bedding

If you didn’t leave an old sofa in your garage for a rodent to live in, they’ll certainly find your old clothes or bed sheets to make a nest. Due to changes in temperature and humidity, any type of delicate clothing will tarnish over time as well. Many dry cleaners out there will dry clean your delicate apparel and then seal them up for storage. Keep all these fabrics sealed tight and indoors.

10. Paper Goods

A close-up image of a stack of newspapers.

If you're environmentally friendly and recycle religiously, then good for you! Unfortunately, that stash of newspapers does not belong in your garage. Recyclable items to pests are just as carrots are to Bugs Bunny—they’ll chomp right through them. If you want to avoid the headache of pests in your garage and paying the hefty exterminator bill, then steer clear of stockpiling these items in the garage. Just as we’ve mentioned before, the best storage is inside and airtight!

The garage may seem like a tempting storage space for all those items you want out of sight, out of mind. Resist the urge and choose a safer and (in the long run) cheaper route. Your sanity and your wallet will thank you.