What to Store in Your Garage (and What Not To)

tools on pegboard in a garage
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Aside from your car, you might be unsure about what's appropriate to store in a garage. Garages are excellent to extend the storage space of your home, but not every home item is fit for garage storage. If you’re wondering how best to use the extra space your garage provides, here are some guidelines on what to store in the garage and what to keep somewhere else.

What to Store in Your Garage

For the most part, the items you should store in your garage have a common theme: They're all items you generally use outdoors.

Car supplies

If you have a car, it probably spends a lot of time in your garage or parked nearby. So it’s logical to store items you use for your car, including wiper fluid and tire inflators, in your garage. The garage is also a good place for items you often transport in or on your car, such as a roof rack or camping gear. If you have the space, hang bulky items like roof racks on the wall or ceiling of your garage. This will help to keep the garage floor space clear for parking your car. As for the smaller items, consider a plastic storage rack with bins or a storage cabinet meant for the garage. This will keep the space organized and make finding items when you need them a breeze.

Yard and Gardening Tools

The garage is the ideal home for tools and appliances you only use outdoors. Think shovels, hoses, outdoor extension cords, lawnmowers, gardening tools, flower pots, and more. Bags of potting soil, buckets of ice melt, and other outdoor supplies that come in bulky packaging are also good candidates for garage storage. Consider putting up pegboard or a similar product to hang tools where you can easily see them and grab what you need.

Outdoor Toys

Any product made for outdoor entertainment can withstand the elements, so it's usually OK to keep it in the garage when it’s not in use. This includes children's toys, pool accessories, bicycles, and patio furniture. Consider hanging items like lawn chairs from hooks on the wall to get them out of the way. And you can keep toys in wire or clear plastic storage bins, so you can easily see what's inside.

Infrequently Used Items

If you need to store any items you rarely use, the garage—like the basement or attic—is often a great place to hide them away. The garage also can be a good temporary storage spot for items you ultimately plan to get rid, as well as items that just don't have another home at the moment. Just keep in mind that sturdy, weatherproof objects will do better in the garage. More delicate items, such as documents and electronics, will hold up better in a basement or an attic.

What Not to Store in Your Garage

The items you shouldn't store in the garage fall into three main categories: certain dangerous materials, items that will attract pests, and delicate objects.

Hazardous Materials

Always be careful with flammable or otherwise hazardous materials. For instance, keep propane tanks, which can leak and ignite, out of the garage (and other enclosed spaces). Instead, store them outside in a well-ventilated area. Gasoline can be stored in a garage. But make sure to use an appropriate container, and keep it far from ignition sources, as well as children and pets. Furthermore, if you’re holding onto hazardous materials you no longer need, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take the time to dispose of them properly, rather than sticking them out of sight and out of mind in the garage.

Items That Attract Insects or Vermin

Insects and vermin are rather good at finding their way into garages, even if you think you've sealed all the holes. So don't tempt them by storing items in your garage that they can make a meal out of or a home in. This includes clothing, bedding, books, papers, and firewood. And of course don't keep actual food accessible in the garage, including pet food and wild bird seed. Pests often can detect food, even if it's packed in a storage container.

Fragile or Valuable Items

Even if you've done work to insulate your garage, it's still probably more exposed to outdoor temperature fluctuations than the rest of your home. So as a general rule, don't store anything in your garage that you wouldn't store in the trunk of your car. Extreme temperatures, as well as excess humidity, can cause many items to warp, crack, or otherwise become damaged. Likewise, while the garage might seem like a convenient spot for an extra refrigerator or freezer, these appliances will have to use a lot of energy in hot weather to keep the food cold. Finally, don’t risk storing things in the garage that are worth a lot to you, either monetarily or emotionally. In addition to being vulnerable to weather, a garage is often a target for thieves.