Don’t Store These Things in Your Garage!
If you’re like most homeowners, storage space is at a premium. Rather than overload your closets and jam more plastic bins under your beds, you turn to your garage for a storage solution. But how safe is it to put certain items in your garage? Are there things that are best stored elsewhere? The team at Ernest Homes rounded up some answers from the storage experts on what should go where when it comes to storage questions. Make a checklist as you go…there’s sure to be at least a few items that will need a new home!
Giant Sacks of Pet Food
The 50 plus pound bags of chow you pick up at a membership club can be big money savers, but you need to store them correctly to keep pests from invading your home. Carboard or paper packaging is an invitation for hungry critters to stop by for a free meal. If there is absolutely no other place to store this awkwardly large item, invest in snap-tight plastic bins or an old-school aluminum trash can before stashing pet food in your garage.
Whether it’s clothing, sleeping bags, rugs, bedding, children’s plush toys or mattresses, it’s best to keep cloth of most kind out of your garage. Heat, humidity and bugs are each natural enemies of fabric, and all three are present in your garage. Unless your garage is air-conditioned (which most aren’t) your goods will be at the mercy of mold, mildew or insect damage.
When it gets chilly, the idea of venturing completely outside to fetch firewood isn’t appealing, but it’s much safer. Like pet food, firewood attracts a variety of pests, but in this case, they’re looking for somewhere to hide. And you’ll always need to store propane tanks outside. They aren’t designed for interior storage. If the tank leaks, gas fumes can seep into your home, causing both a poisoning and explosion risk. Gasoline is another dangerous item to store in your garage, although you’ll cut the risk substantially if you use an approved plastic container and place it on a piece of plywood on the floor, not directly on the concrete. Make certain it won’t be in direct sunlight at any time of the day.
An “Overflow” Appliance
In at least half of the homes in this country, you’ll see a “spare” refrigerator or freezer chugging away in the garage, handling the excess product the kitchen units can’t accommodate. While it may seem like a great idea, running these extra appliances in your hot, stuffy garage causes them to work much harder, driving up your electric bill. Refrigerators work best at temperatures between 65 and 78 degrees. During the summer, your garage can reach temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. During the winter, lower temperatures can cause excessive freezing of the food stored in the garage.
It’s the humidity that will do them in…their delicate circuit boards can’t handle the excess moisture. And if the humidity doesn’t kill them, tiny insects are likely to get inside, destroying the internal workings of old computers, printers, video game consoles and media players. If you aren’t using it, consider donating it to charity as soon as you get a replacement rather than leaving it in the garage to die.
Old-school, non-digital photos need a cool, dark, dry space to preserve them. Under the bed or in a dark closet is ideal. Photos stored in a garage tend to fade and stick together, ruining them forever.
Non-Disposable Paper Products
Books, files, old tax returns, you name it…if it’s paper, it’s a delicious treat for silverfish or bedding material for mice and rats. And bindings and paper can crack, curl or turn color when exposed to extreme temperature swings and high humidity. Best to keep these items in a climate-controlled environment safe from pests.
If you’re in the process of painting, it’s okay to leave paint in your garage for a few days. However, if you’re not going to be using that paint for a few weeks or more, it’s best to tap it closed tightly and store it in a utility closet inside. Paint can separate or spoil when exposed to unregulated temperatures.
Ask anyone with an interest in wine…it needs to be stored between 25- and 68-degrees Fahrenheit in order to preserve the taste, color and aroma. While slight variations are acceptable (keeping wine you plan on drinking soon on a rack in your living room for a month or two, for example) you’re certain to spoil your wine if it’s stored in your garage.
Contrary to public opinion, canned food is not indestructible. It retains flavor and remains safe longest when stored in places kept between 50 and 70 degrees. Humidity can also cause chemical reactions between rusting metal and the food inside, making it potentially dangerous to eat. Move those cans and Mason jars inside for best results.
Greasy, Oily Rags
If someone in your home is a fix-it guru and loves to tinker with engines and appliances, make sure to keep their oily rags safely outside of any area of your home, including the garage. Make sure all rags with oil or grease on them are left outside to dry completely, then placed in a sealed metal container for disposal. Once dirty, they should never be brought back into the house. This is a great use for the cookie tins or giant popcorn tins left over after Christmas!