10 Things You Should Never Store in Your Basement or Crawl Space

Unfinished basements and crawl spaces can be a great place to store items you don't use all the time. But before you stash something down below, consider if it will hold up when left in a cool and often damp space. The following items won't do so well.

Your basement or crawl space might seem like the answer to your storage solution. But while these spaces are good storage options for some things, they have drawbacks as well. Oftentimes basements and crawl spaces are unfinished, so bugs and moisture pose problems. Poor ventilation is also a problem. For the sake of your home as well as the items you’re looking to store, take these precautions seriously.

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Your child’s favorite toys—especially stuffed animals and other plush toys—should be stored in an area other than the basement. Dust mites, other insects and even mice may have their way with the toys if given the chance. If you must store toys in the basement or crawl space, make sure they are secured in airtight containers.

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You want to save your favorite books from childhood to give to your kids or grandkids someday, but storing them in the basement isn’t the best solution. Silverfish are insects that thrive in dark, damp environments such as basements and crawl spaces and the bugs love to feast on starchy substances, such as the glue that binds books.

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Rugs and Carpeting

Rolled up rugs and carpeting make great homes for insects and mice so consider storing them in a spot other than a basement or crawl space. The rug and carpet fibers will also absorb moisture and odor, which may ruin them if left for long periods.

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It may be tempting to store firewood in the basement for easy retrieval when you’re ready to build a fire in the fireplace, but the moisture in basements can cause rot and make the wood too wet. Keep firewood at least 20 feet away from your home so it doesn’t become a haven for pests.

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propane tank

Never Store Flammable Items in the Basement

It may be tempting to store that extra propane tank for the grill, unused paint or kerosene in your basement, but flammable materials pose a hazard when kept inside. These types of flammable items can be extremely dangerous if left near a furnace, water heater or clothes dryer. Instead, take them outside and store them in the garage or a shed.

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oldunov Alexey/Shutterstock

Some Furniture

Since wood can easily be ruined by mildew, keep wood furniture out of the basement and crawl space. Same goes for upholstered furniture which can absorb moisture and harbor odors. Instead, store these items in dry areas of your home.

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Koldunov Alexey/Shutterstock

Old Clothing

Consider storing your old clothing—whether your favorite dresses, winter coats or sweaters—some place other than the basement. Clothes are prone to moth infestations. Fur and leather also don’t hold up well when stored in damp areas. Keep clothing in sealed plastic bags and store in another area of the home.

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If you want to keep that old DVD player or stereo, store it in a place other than the basement or crawl space. Extreme temperatures and moisture can cause problems with the components.

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Important Papers and Files

Don’t risk keeping those important papers such as medical records, passports and birth certificates in the basement or crawl space. Same goes for photos as they could be damaged by water and excess moisture in the air. If you need to keep some paper items in the basement, store them in an air-tight plastic container.

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Some Food

Basements can be great places to store canned goods and some root vegetables, but not all food should be kept in the basement. Any perishable food should be kept out of the basement as it may attract mildew and insects.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham spent years working in newsrooms, for television and newspapers, and has won several awards for her writing. In 2015, she left her full-time job as a newspaper editor to focus on freelance writing and editing. She has been a Family Handyman contributor since 2017.
In 2019, Rachel lived through a major remodeling project on her home, and she uses that experience to inform her Family Handyman content. She's also an avid gardener (both native plants and vegetables), enjoys keeping up with decor trends and spends a lot of time traveling, cooking and hanging out with her family and their giant dog.