Your garage can store more than your car, but keeping these items there could be downright dangerous.
The garage seems like the perfect place for all those half-filled buckets of paint leftover from your latest redecorating spree, but it’s actually one of the worst. Storing unused paint cans in the garage can subject them to extreme temperature changes, which can ruin the color (even if they’re sealed airtight), according to Good Housekeeping. Plus, leaving cans directly on the cement surface of your garage will cause them to rust faster, leaving an unsightly stain on your floor that’s hard to remove. To ensure your extra paint doesn’t go to waste, store it on a shelf in a temperature-controlled room that’s easily accessible when your walls need a quick touch-up. If you don’t have any room inside, many communities have designated places to donate paint, or you can safely dispose of it by adding a little paint hardener before tossing the can in the garbage. These are things you should never, ever leave in your car.
“Wool jackets, boots, rain slickers, scarves—basically anything you want to bring out of storage and wear when the weather turns—should be stored in airtight containers indoors,” organizing and storing expert Emma Gordon told Real Simple. “If stored in a garage, fumes and superfine dust brought in by the family car will work its way into the containers, making your clothing stink.” Plus, the fabric will be vulnerable to pesky insects and vermin, who can nibble away at your favorite sweater.
We have some bad news for your extra sodas and beers. Since refrigerators work best at 67 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, rising temperatures in your garage can cause it to work harder to keep your food cool, spiking your energy bill to levels that will make you sweat. It’s a bad idea during wintertime, too; according to Rodale’s Organic Life, fridges operate less efficiently at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and won’t run at all below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Save a few bucks on your electric and grocery bills by shopping for just enough food to fit in your kitchen fridge, or keep an extra fridge in your basement. Clear some room in yours: These are foods you shouldn’t keep in the fridge anyway.
Although they may seem invincible, canned items like beans and tomato sauce can quickly spoil when subjected to extreme hot and cold weather. In fact, canned goods have a “shorter shelf life in any room that gets hotter than 70 degrees,” according to Good Housekeeping. The solution? Store it all indoors. It’s a great excuse to clean out your packed pantry and revamp it with a new shelving system that will keep everything fresh and organized.
DVD players, stereos, televisions, and computers are sensitive to severe fluctuations in temperature and could be damaged in the summer heat or winter freeze. Unless your garage is well ventilated and humidity-free, you’ll want to store your expensive electronics somewhere else, like on a shelf in a closet or a dry basement. These are items you should never, ever carry in your purse.
Propane tanks for your grill or camping stove should never cross your doorway—not even into the garage—or your could find yourself facing a homeowner’s nightmare. If the propane leaks into an enclosed, unventilated area, a simple act like starting your car risks igniting a fire, says Rodale’s Organic Life. Always keep propane tanks outdoors and make sure they’re screwed tightly shut.
Pet food and birdseed
Open bags of pet food or birdseed can attract unwanted pests into your garage, and even sealed bags can tempt mice to burrow into your pup’s favorite treats. Keep any dry food items in a sealed, airtight container in your pantry or cupboards. Avoid these items you should never buy at garage sales.
Rodents love to make nests out of couch cushions, and wooden tables and chairs can become warped after spending a summer in the heat and humidity. You’re better off donating any furniture you can’t use, or store them in an attic or basement if you have room.
Storing wine is a delicate process that should definitely not involve the garage. According to Purdue University’s Wine Storage Guidelines, wine should be stored at temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Too much heat will alter the taste of the wine once you uncork it, leaving a sourness or bitterness on your tongue. “Plus, fluctuations between warm and cool temperatures in the garage can cause corks to expand and contract, allowing air to seep inside the bottle and causing it to go bad,” notes Rodale’s Organic Life. Next, read about things you should never, ever leave outside.