11 Things You Should Never Leave Outside

Your sunscreen needs protection, too.

11 Things You Should Never Leave Outside
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Not everything you own is designed to brave the elements. In fact, even some items that are specifically designed for the outdoors—like your kids’ toys and your lawn mower—shouldn’t be stored outside or else they might stop functioning. So, to ensure that all of your precious belongings stay in tip-top shape, we’ve rounded up all of the things you should never leave outside.

1
Bicycles

A Bicycle in Someone's Yard Things Never Leave Outside Shutterstock

Of course, garage space is sacred, and using a large amount for your family’s bicycle collection is far from ideal. However, doing so is much better than the alternative: leaving your bikes outside and letting them fall victim to the natural elements.

“Storing [your bike] outside, leaned up against the wall, or locked to a fence isn’t a solution,” note the experts at outdoor essentials retailer REI. “Do that and you expose your ride to weather that could damage the components and impact the bike’s longevity.”

2
Lawn Mowers

person mowing lawn with electric lawnmower, backyard dangers Shutterstock/kurhan

Lawn mowers can cost a pretty penny to repair—and you’ll learn just how expensive if you leave yours outside. Between rats with a penchant for munching through cords and harsh temperatures that can plug up your machine’s jets and ports, keeping your lawn mower in the grass is a recipe for disaster.

3
Power Tools

power drill, increase home value Shutterstock

Another thing you should never leave outside is your power tools. Not only can precipitation cause them to rust, but if water gets in to the battery compartments or near the cords, then they could stop working altogether.

4
Bottles of Sunscreen

Bottles of Sunscreen Things Never Leave Outside Shutterstock

Ironically enough, sunscreen—the very substance that protects you from the sun—doesn’t do well when exposed to direct sunlight. In fact, the Mayo Clinic warns that when containers of sunscreen are exposed to excessive heat or direct sunlight, they can change consistency and become less potent. Unless you want to risk getting skin cancer, you should never leave bottles of sunscreen outside—and if you do by accident, it’s best to just toss it.

5
Kids Toys

Kids Toy in the Lawn Shutterstock

One of the worst things you can leave outside is your kids’ toys. That’s because your yard is full of bacteria, which can latch on to your child’s playthings and eventually make them sick if you’re not careful.

One 2013 study from the University of Buffalo specifically found that virus-causing bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes can live for hours on inanimate objects like toys, so be sure to clean your child’s cars and Legos after they’ve been in the great outdoors.

6
Dog Toys

Dog's tennis ball sitting in the yard Shutterstock

Unless your dog’s toy is specifically designed for the outdoors, then it should never be left outside. Any sort of precipitation will turn your dog’s toys into a breeding ground for mold and mildew, and extreme sunlight will alter the texture of the toys and could even expose your pup to the hazardous chemicals in materials like plastic.

7
Basketballs

Basketball on a Basketball Court Things Never Leave Outside Shutterstock

Outside temperatures and air pressure can affect the bounce, inflation, and exterior of a basketball. According to Dick’s Sporting Goods, when a basketball is left outside, extreme temperatures and conditions “can ruin the quality of [the] ball and make it lose its grip,” plus “warp the shape of [the] ball and affect performance.”

Basketballs maintain their shape and pressure best when stored at room temperature, so either bring yours inside when you’re done using it or keep it somewhere in the garage where it won’t be exposed to direct sunlight.

8
Shoes

Shoes sitting on a doorstep things never leave outside Shutterstock

Whether it’s your little ones’ sneakers left outside after playing in the yard or your rain boots sitting on the doorstep in an attempt to dry them out, leaving shoes sitting outdoors is never a good idea. Why? Well, not only can they end up damp and damaged from morning dew or overnight showers, but it’s also possible that small creatures and bugs will decide to take up residence in what they perceive to be comfy, vacant homes.

9
Clothes

clothes hanging on a line Shutterstock

Though hanging your laundry up to dry is an eco-friendly alternative to using a dryer, you shouldn’t be leaving your clothes outside for long periods of time. Doing so makes them vulnerable to rain—and as a paper published by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln notes, “clothes and linens stored when damp and/or dirty are ideal environments for mildew growth.” Mildew is hard to get rid of once it has grown, so if you know a storm is approaching, make sure to bring any articles of clothing inside.

10
Towels

Towel drying on the side of a porch things never leave outside Shutterstock

Towels are comprised of the same materials as articles of clothing—and like your shirts and shorts, they shouldn’t be left outside lest you want to deal with mildew. It’s fine to leave your beach towels hanging over the railing of your porch during the day—but come nighttime, don’t forget to store them safely inside.

11
Spare Keys

Spare Key Sitting Under a Doormat Things Never Leave Outside Shutterstock

That spare key under your doormat might come in handy whenever you lock yourself out, but it’s also putting a giant target on your home. In fact, according to data compiled by detective agency LA Intelligence, homes with spare keys outside are one of the most common burglary targets.

At the end of the day, you’re better off locking yourself out and waiting for someone else to get home than leaving a spare key outside and basically inviting burglars in. Instead, ask if you can leave a spare key at the home of a friend who lives nearby. And for more information on keeping your home, belongings, and loved ones safe, follow these 27 Amazing Personal Safety Tips That Will Change Your Life.

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