13 Items You Should Never Leave in Your Garage
Your garage can store more than your car, but keeping these items there could be downright dangerous.
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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 leave in your car.
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“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.
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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.
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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. Check out these other 10 ways you can make your home safer.
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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.
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Propane tanks for your grill or camping stove should never cross your doorway—not even into the garage—or you 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. Fix these other 10 other hazards you didn’t realize were in your home.
Pet food and birdseed
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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.
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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 storing them in an attic or basement if you have room. Don’t miss these other 13 garage mistakes that put you in danger.
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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.
Birth certificates, cherished photographs, medical records—your most important files belong inside the house. Your garage is subject to the same humidity and fluctuating temperatures as the great outdoors, according to The Family Handyman. Leave fragile, vital papers out there and they could be ruined. If the garage is your only option, be sure to keep them in an airtight container to avoid any weather damage.
That old, precarious bookshelf
The garage might be the only place you have room for old furniture, but don’t trust a wobbly bookcase there that you wouldn’t trust in your living room. It’s one thing for those shelves to drop some books and trinkets when they collapse, but dumping toxic chemicals or sharp tools all over the floor is another story. “You should maintain all shelf components and avoid any corrosion of metal,” Lock Up Garages health and safety advisor Vanessa Thorn tells The Family Handyman. “Always avoid overloading shelves, too, as that is a sure way for accidents to happen!” Replace any broken or flimsy shelves with a new, stable set. Skip these 21 items you should never buy at a garage sale.
You wouldn’t let a lamp cord trail across the middle of the floor in the house, and you should be even more careful about stray cords in the garage. It’s easy to trip over long cables or loose items scattered across the floor, and falling is a bigger risk in the garage than in most rooms of the house. “It’s not so much tripping that is the cause of concern,” Thorn tells The Family Handyman, “it’s what may fall on top of you, or what you may fall into.” Landing face first into a shelf of open paint cans? No thank you!
A running generator
Backup generators need to stay covered—especially because most blackouts happen during nasty weather—but your garage is not a safe option. Even with the door open, enough toxic carbon monoxide could build up to kill a person. When yours is running, leave it in a protected area at least 20 feet from your house, warns the CDC. Next, read about 10 things you should never, ever leave outside.