What Should Not be Stored in the Basement?

This guide will provide you with a list of items that should not be stored in the basement, including Chemicals (e.g., paint, aerosol cans, adhesives etc), Valuables (e.g., money, collectibles, documents etc), Food products and perishables (e.g., produce, meat, dairy products etc), Household appliances that contain oil or flammable fluids and Furniture made from organic materials

Last Updated on June 30, 2022 by Jude Robert Caratao

The basement is usually one of the best places to store items at home. It gives homeowners a chance to be more creative with space planning, which can mean gaining a lot of extra storage. But there are some things homeowners shouldn’t store in basements.

Never store things that easily attract mold in the basement, as humidity is one of the biggest factors that can lead to mold infestation. Avoid storing foodstuff, paper products, things made of fabric, toxic chemicals, etc. Most of these things can rot and ruin your belongings.

Here is a complete list of things you should never store in the basement and the reason why you should not. Read on!

1. Delicate Fabrics

If you have those seasonal clothes, don’t be tempted to store them in the basement when not using them. Otherwise, you’ll be exposing them to insects, dust, and humidity, which can lead to permanent damage.

Moths are also attracted to cotton, wool, and silk fabrics and will easily find a breeding ground in those fabrics when you store them in the basement. If you have leather and fur items, it’s also important to know that they need to stay in a cool climate, which is something your basement will not provide.

2. Batteries

Batteries are chemical products and can release harmful gases if exposed to humidity for too long. This gas is hazardous, so avoid storing batteries in the basement or anywhere else moist.

Make sure you store batteries in a place where air can circulate freely, and the temperature is not too hot or cold. Hot temperatures can cause the batteries to burst, and you won’t use them after that.

3. Paint

If you own any paint that has not been used yet, do not store it in the basement. It will soften and separate from its components if exposed to humidity for extended periods of time. This can result in damage and render the paint unusable. If you already stored your paint and started using it occasionally, make sure to cap the paint can tightly after every use.

4. Anything Made of Paper or Cardboard

Most papers and cardboard things are extremely sensitive to moisture. The basement is known for its high dampness level, so put them in plastic bags first before packing them into boxes and putting them away.

Or, if you’re not looking forward to watching your kids’ drawings fade away, store them in the freezer. You should also avoid storing your precious books in the basement as they will probably get wet.

5. Antiques

Some antiques may look outdated and out of space, but they still hold sentimental value. So, if you’re not ready to part ways with these family heirlooms, you should find a dry spot for them in your house. The moisture in the basement will only do them more harm and could possibly ruin the restoration job you had done.

Collectible materials.
You should find a dry spot for them in your house.

6. Wood Furniture

Wooden furniture like beds, cabinets and all things wood will greatly benefit from moisture-free storage. A basement is a perfect place for rot and bugs to thrive. Mold to form and grow won’t be good for your wooden furniture.

Too much exposure to moisture can also warp, shrink, and crack wooden furniture rendering them useless. Your wooden furniture needs moderate temperatures for proper storage.

7. Paintings

If you have photos, paintings or any delicate artwork, they must be kept safe from mold. Disaster can strike when too much moisture is in the air because it encourages the growth of mold and mildew. Not only do these destroy your photos, but they also eat away at them until there’s nothing left.

8. Firewood

Preparing some firewood to keep you warm in the cold months? Well, they won’t be of much help to you if you expose them to moisture in the basement, causing them to rot. Firewood needs to be stored in cool temperatures, away from moisture. Low humidity levels will keep these wood pieces dry and help them burn longer when they’re lit on fire.

9. Toys

If your child outgrows their toy and you think you want to store it for another child to use in the future, the basement should not be your choice. It’s not a good idea to store the toy in the basement because toys that gather moisture end up with rust or mildew stains. If these toys use batteries, the intense heat in the basement can cause them to burst.

A kid playing with his toys.
It’s not a good idea to store the toy in the basement.

10. Mower & Lawn Equipment

If you think your lawn equipment is safe from outside elements hidden away in the basement, think again. Even if you cover them up as best as you can, humidity can still get to them, so the best place for items like this is in a heated garage.

A mower.
It’s not a good idea to keep it in the basement during wintertime.

Lawn items such as the sprinkler system might be one of your favorite things about summertime, but it’s not a good idea to keep it in the basement during wintertime. Since water conducts electricity, if any part of the system is exposed and an electrical surge occurs, you can kiss your lawn equipment goodbye.

11. Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies, such as bleach and other poisonous substances, need to be stored in a cool, dry area as they can explode under high heat or pressure. If stored in the basement, these items can become dangerous since basements are usually close to the water level and can be damp due to their proximity. This can cause certain chemicals to interact with each other that could cause an explosion or be harmful to your health.

12. Food and Beverages

Never store any food items or beverages in the basement, even for short. The basement area undergoes temperature swings, which may not be good for most beverages and canned foods. Besides, food items, including pet food, have the tendency to attract pests. If stored in the basement, dealing it will be much more difficult to deal with those pests.

Foods packed in a box.
Food items, including pet food, have the tendency to attract pests.

13. Fire Hazards

Items categorized as easily inflammable such as gasoline, paint, lighter fluids, and other chemical products, should not be kept in the basement. Also, avoid storing any combustible items such as paper, paints, or chemicals that may spontaneously ignite without warning. The basement is usually in close proximity to water heaters, furnace, and electrical wiring. Any leakage in these appliances can spread to other combustible materials, especially in the basement.

14. Medications

Medications must be stored in safe and dry places away from your children’s reach. These places are definitely not the basement area. The basement is prone to pest attacks and is usually damp. Find the best place to store your items and expose the expired ones.

15. Electronics

Even if you’re no longer using some of your electronics, don’t store them in the basement. This area is usually moist and may not be good for your devices. Electronics are built with sensitive chips that get damaged when exposed to moisture.

Electronic materials.
Electronics are built with sensitive chips that get damaged when exposed to moisture.

Problems with Basement Storage

The basement is one of the most popular storage areas in a house. It is a place where you can store bulk items, and it’s usually cooler in temperature. But basements have several problems when used as storage units. They are damp, cold, dark and may contain toxic elements that affect the stored material over time. Here are some of the problems you might experience with basement storage.


The basement is prone to moisture and humidity. Most of your items may not withstand all the moisture. Moisture can damage your valuable items and render them useless. Mold, mildew, and rust are attracted to moist places and may start to grow inside your items and damage their components.

Pest Attacks

A basement is an ideal place for pests such as bugs, roaches, and rodents to hide in. When they get inside your things, they create a nest and start to reproduce rapidly. They will also scatter dirt around the items with their waste matter which accelerates the damage.

Basement Leaks and Floods

The easiest way to destroy your things in the basement is through water damage. Water leakage may occur in the basement, which can lead to constant moisture that will cause rust and mold.

Basement can easily get flooded because it’s closer to the ground, and that’s the place where water gets to first. Leaky pipes can also cause an enormous amount of water damage to your belongings in the basement. If not managed on time, just one tiny hole in a pipe can cause serious flooding problems in your basement.

Climate Conditions

Your items are very sensitive to climate change. Extremes in temperature and humidity levels directly affect their durability and functionality. Heat, cold, rain, wind, or snow can damage your items. For example, furniture exposed to the elements outdoors will be at risk of warping, fading, scratching and more.


There’s no denying that the basement is the best place to store most of your items, including patio furniture, kitchen utensils, holiday decorations, and more. But there are a host of many things you can’t store down there as that will only mean exposing them to mold, moisture, pests, and rust.

If you must store some of these items in the basement, you need to ensure you take the necessary steps to protect them. Also, avoid storing items in the basement for a long time, especially if you’re travelling. This is the first place burglars will check if they’re looking for stuff to steal.

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