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10 Things You Should Never Keep in a Storage Unit

From family treasures to flammables, there are plenty of things you shouldn't stow in your storage unit.

Hallway with white storage units. Concrete floorJoey Laffort/Shutterstock

You don’t have room for Grandma’s antique dresser, but you can’t bear the thought of getting rid of it. A storage unit might seem like the ideal solution to stow away the family heirlooms you don’t have room for. But it’s important to keep in mind that because storage units typically don’t have heat or air conditioning, whatever you store in them can be damaged by extreme temperatures. “On especially hot days, the conditions of your storage unit could become much like those in an enclosed car on a hot day,” according to the storage company Sharespace. That means when it’s a comfortable 70 degrees outside, it could be triple digits in your storage unit and wreak havoc on your belongings. Climate-controlled units are available, but they can cost around 20 percent more. On top of that, your valuables might also be more vulnerable to theft in a storage unit. Most don’t have overnight managers, and break-ins are common. With that in mind, here are some things you should never stow in a storage unit.

Artists oil paints multicolored closeup abstract backgroundMoolkum/Shutterstock

Artwork

The best temperature for storing art ranges from 70 to 75 degrees. Extreme temperatures can cause canvases to either shrink or expand, damaging the piece of art. They would also be more susceptible to theft. Find out the 11 weirdest items found in storage units.

Vintage luxury dresser at flea market in Paris (France)Elena Dijour/Shutterstock

Antique furniture

Just like wooden musical instruments, very hot or very cold conditions can cause antique furniture to expand or shrink and might even make delicate chairs fall apart. Don’t miss these 10 items you’ll regret not storing in a cool place.

Milan/Italy - October 20, 2016: Vintage photo camera, a Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 530, built in 1934, on wooden backgroundArcansel/Shutterstock

Electronics

Holding on to a computer, TV, or camera for future use might seem like a good idea, but stowing electronics in a storage unit for an extended period of time could cause the metal inside to erode.

PARIS - MARCH 10: Old black and white and sepia photos at flea market as seen on March 10, 2013 in Paris, France. There more than 20 flea markets in Paris.Elena Dijour/Shutterstock

Family heirlooms

Anything with sentimental value that you can’t replace shouldn’t go into a storage unit. The conditions can cause photographs to turn yellow and the metal in rings and other jewelry may start to corrode. Don’t miss these 12 storage tips to make you feel more organized.

GILROY, CALIFORNIA - JULY 4, 2016: A collection of safe and sane fireworks ready for use in a home fireworks display on July 4, 2016 in Gilroy, California.Matthew Corley/Shutterstock

Flammable items

Gasoline, ammunition, and fireworks have no place in a storage unit because of the heat and lack of ventilation. Your lease agreement should specify what else makes the list.

Fresh Vegetables in wooden box on white wooden backgroundDronG/Shutterstock

Food

Your storage unit shouldn’t be used as an off-site pantry. Temperature fluctuations can turn your unit into a breeding ground for bacteria if you store milk, vegetables, and other fresh foods there. And dry goods like grains can attract vermin.

Female leather jacketFabrikaSimf/Shutterstock

Leather

Your leather jacket and shoes also might not care well in a storage unit. Leather can also be affected by temperature extremes, which can cause it to shrink or expand. Here are 9 things you should never leave in your garage.

External hard drive connect to laptop computerNuttapol Pingpittayakun/Shutterstock

Sensitive documents

You may think you’re protecting yourself by locking your documents away, but as many thieves have shown, a Master Lock is no deterrent. In fact, in Washington state, a hard drive containing 1.2 million people’s names, health records, and Social Security numbers was stolen from a storage unit, according to the Associated Press.

Brush, Home decorationSebastian Duda/Shutterstock

Toxic or hazardous chemicals

Holding on to those paint cans is tempting, but the potential for heat and lack of ventilation in storage units make storing chemical a potential for disaster. Check out these 50 organizing tips.

Vinyl record with copy space in front of a collection of albums (dummy titles), vintage processDelpixel/Shutterstock

Vinyl records

Record collectors love vinyl, but a storage unit is no place for your collection. Vinyl is very sensitive to changes in temperature, which can cause records to warp and compromise sound quality. Next, here are 26 secrets personal organizers would never tell you for free.

 

Jen McCaffery
Jen McCaffery is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Prevention, Rhode Island Monthly, and other publications and websites. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s growing veggies or trying to figure out the way home from assorted trails.