12 Items You Should Never Store In The Basement

In many homes, the basement is a hub of miscellaneous items, a space where belongings are placed out of sight, out of mind. However, the unique conditions of a basement environment, such as dampness, the potential for flooding, and fluctuating temperatures, mean it’s not the ideal storage space for everything. Some items could deteriorate or become unsafe when stored in the basement. Knowing what not to store in your basement is vital for preserving the value of your belongings and maintaining a safe and healthy home.

1. Artwork and Photographs

Artworks and photographs are sensitive to environmental conditions. Basements often have damp, humid conditions which can quickly degrade these items. Moisture can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can seep into the materials and permanently ruin the integrity of your precious art and memorable photos. Further, basements typically undergo more temperature fluctuations compared to other parts of the house, causing artwork and photos to expand and contract, resulting in cracks and peeling. It’s better to store these items in a controlled environment, away from direct sunlight and with a consistent temperature.


2. Important Documents

Crucial documents like passports, birth certificates, social security cards, financial records, and other sensitive paperwork are too important to be kept in a basement. Moisture can cause these papers to deteriorate, and important information may be lost forever. Plus, finding them amidst other stored items in the basement can be a daunting task when you urgently need them. Store these vital documents in a fireproof and waterproof safe located in a more accessible part of your home, like a home office.

3. Wooden Furniture

Wooden furniture is highly susceptible to damage in a basement’s typical environment. Moisture can cause the wood to warp, swell, and eventually rot, leading to irreversible damage. Moreover, basements are often prone to pests like termites that can cause extensive damage to your wooden items. Instead, consider placing these items in the living or dining room, where temperature and humidity are more controlled.


4. Clothing and Bedding

Textiles such as clothes, bedding, and linens absorb moisture fast, leading to a musty smell, and encouraging the growth of mold and mildew. Pests like moths and silverfish are also attracted to these items and can cause considerable damage. Instead, store these in vacuum-sealed bags and place them in wardrobes, closets, or under-bed storage. This practice not only keeps your textiles fresh but also saves you from unnecessary laundry chores.

5. Electronics

Electronics and appliances, including televisions, computers, microwaves, and refrigerators, don’t fare well in damp, cold basements. The moisture can cause internal damage to these devices, leading to short circuits and other malfunctions. Temperature fluctuations can cause condensation inside these devices, which can further corrode the electronic components. It’s much safer to store electronics in a dry, temperature-controlled environment.


6. Wine

Though many believe basements are perfect for storing wine, it’s not always true. Wine requires a consistent, cool temperature, with optimal humidity and minimal light exposure. However, the typical basement doesn’t provide these specific conditions. Unstable temperatures can cause wine to age prematurely or alter its flavor. Instead, it’s best to store wine in a specialized wine cooler or a cellar explicitly designed for wine storage.

7. Canned Food

Contrary to popular belief, basements are not ideal for storing canned goods. High temperatures above 70°F can accelerate the spoilage of food, while freezing temperatures can cause the food inside cans to expand and contract. This could potentially break the seal, leading to contamination. Instead, store canned food in a cool, dry pantry that has a relatively constant temperature.

8. Paint

While basements seem practical for storing paint, they’re not the best place. Temperature fluctuations can adversely affect the paint’s consistency and color. Too much cold can cause the paint to separate and freeze, rendering it unusable, while too much heat can dry it out. Instead, store paint cans in a cool, dry place with stable temperatures, like a utility room or a well-insulated garage.


9. Hazardous Materials

Storing hazardous materials like gasoline, propane, cleaners, pesticides, and other chemicals in the basement can pose significant safety risks. Flammable materials can ignite, causing a fire, while corrosive chemicals can leak and produce harmful fumes. Instead, these should be stored in a well-ventilated area, away from living spaces, preferably in a detached shed or garage, following local regulations for storage of hazardous materials.

10. Musical Instruments

Musical instruments, particularly those made of wood, such as guitars, violins, and pianos, are highly sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. These variations can cause the instruments to warp, crack, or even become unplayable. Store them in a controlled environment where the temperature and humidity are kept constant, and consider using humidity control devices to maintain optimal conditions.

11. Cosmetics and Medication

Cosmetics and medications require dry, cool, and preferably dark places for storage. Basements, which often have damp conditions and temperature fluctuations, can alter their chemical composition, rendering them ineffective or even unsafe to use. Additionally, it can be easy to forget about them if they’re stored out of sight in the basement. Instead, store cosmetics in your bedroom or bathroom and keep medication in a dedicated medicine cabinet.

12. Firewood

While it might seem convenient to store firewood in your basement, it’s not a great idea. Firewood can harbor pests like termites and beetles, which you definitely don’t want to invite into your home. Besides, firewood can also be a source of mold and mildew, contributing to the dampness of your basement. It’s best to store firewood outside, covered, and off the ground to keep it dry, until you’re ready to use it.

By being mindful of the specific storage needs of different items, you can prolong their lifespan and maintain the safety and health of your home environment. A basement can be a valuable storage space when used correctly, but it’s essential to understand its limitations and protect your belongings accordingly.



Understanding what to store and what not to store in your basement is crucial for effective space utilization and maintaining the integrity of your possessions. While your basement might seem like a practical solution for storing seldom-used items, remember that its conditions may not be suitable for all. It’s essential to assess each item’s specific needs and make appropriate decisions to ensure its longevity and safety. By doing so, you can avoid potential damages, save money, and make your home safer and more organized.

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