A garage can seem like a bonus room, perfect for keeping everything that just doesn’t fit anywhere else — especially if you don’t keep your car in it.
But it’s important to look at all that extra space with a critical eye. Garages have some unique limitations as a storage space that might not be immediately obvious. You should treat them as part of the exterior of your home, but covered.
Here’s a look at several items people might think are sensible to store in the garage — and why you should reconsider.
Old photos don’t belong in the garage. Frequent temperature changes and humidity can cause many issues, including warping or mold growth, according to the Image Restoration Center.
2. Canned foods
Canned food is very temperature sensitive, making the garage a bad place for it unless you live in the mildest of climates. Temperatures greater than 75 degrees cause a loss of nutrition, the University of Minnesota Extension says. Ideally, store cans in a cool and dry place between 50 and 70 degrees.
Remember that the temperature in your garage may not match the temperature outside either. In fact, it could be as much as 18 degrees warmer in your garage unless it has air conditioning.
3. Old electronics
The humidity and lack of climate control are bad news for electronics as well, the website Garage Transformed explains. It makes more sense to sell or recycle electronics you aren’t going to use anymore, rather than risking damage to them while they clutter up your garage.
4. House paint
Extra paint shouldn’t be allowed to freeze or heat up above 80 degrees, according to Benjamin Moore. It should also be stored out of reach of children in a dry environment.
Mattresses are sort of like giant sponges — susceptible to mold, mildew and weird smells. You don’t want any of those things in a bed, so consider whether it’s worth keeping. If so, find a climate-controlled place for it.
6. Firewood and propane
Each of these things, which are both used to start fires, is a problem in the garage for a different reason.
Bringing firewood inside probably means you’re bringing pests along too. These can include wood-boring beetles, carpenter ants, wasps, spiders and of course termites, according to Purdue University.
Propane, meanwhile, shouldn’t be stored inside your home — a leak is both a health risk and a fire risk. “You should never store your propane tank in your living area or in any spot that’s attached to your home,” Amerigas warns. A detached garage might be OK though.
7. Wood furniture
You certainly don’t want any of those firewood pests getting near your grandmother’s antique bureau, but even if you haven’t made that mistake, it’s not a good idea to keep wooden furniture in the garage. The fluctuations in temperature and humidity will gradually cause warping and cracking.