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8 Items You Should Never Store in Your Attic, According to Experts

It might seem like the perfect place to stash stuff, but not everything belongs in your upper level.

Just like a decently spacious basement, an attic can feel like a practically perfect place to store your excess items. They usually provide ample space for everything from seasonal clothes and holiday decorations to family keepsakes and knickknacks. Of course, ensuring everything stays nice and organized can be a significant undertaking in itself. But before you go to stash just anything in your home's upper level, you might want to take a second look at what's going up there. Read on for the items experts say you should never store in your attic.

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Wood and upholstered furniture

Construction Industry, Place of Work, Wood - Material, Working, Senior

After a remodel, it can be much easier to hold on to cherished pieces of furniture instead of selling, donating, or tossing them. However, any wooden or upholstered pieces may not survive storage in an attic.

"Unfortunately, mold can be found in attics and can grow on wood furniture, mattresses, stuffed animals, and decorative pillows," Lauren Saltman, professional organizer and owner of Living Simplified, tells Best Life. "Any item that is susceptible to moisture is a concern in the attic because of mold."

But if you need a place to stash your patio pieces, you're still in luck: Saltman says that attics are a great place to store outdoor furniture when you're not using them during the colder months.

Rugs, drapes, and fabrics

A variety of brightly colored rugs rolled up on display next to each other
iStock / JackF

Changing the patterns in a room can give it a whole new life without having to invest in a single piece of furniture. But don't expect to store fabrics such as silk, wool, or linen on your home's top floor and survive the experience.

"These fabrics are prone to becoming infested with carpet beetles and moths, and this can wreak havoc on the rest of your home," says Tim Jankowski, president of Aladdin's Cleaning & Restoration. "If you absolutely have to store these in the attic, be sure to vacuum seal them at minimum."

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Flammable items

Various Cans of Paint
Sebastian Duda/Shutterstock

Some items can get ruined from being stored in your attic. But Saltman warns others could put your home in danger.

"Don't be tempted to store chemicals and flammable items in your attic like paint, turpentine, and propane," says Saltman. Instead, consider finding a space with better ventilation, like a garage or garden shed that's detached from your home.

Important documents

Personal documents in file drawer

At first glance, your attic might seem like the perfect safe-keeping place for your important documents. However, Saltman points out that paper doesn't fare well in such extreme conditions.

"Whether birth certificates, taxes from the last few years, photos, or medical records, keep in mind that both heat and moisture are not friends to these items and can permanently damage them," she warns. "If you must store them in the attic, be sure to put them in a tightly sealed container to keep out bugs and water."

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old electronics toss these things from your house for instant happiness

We all secretly hold out hope that that old VCR, CD player, or decades-old laptop will become relevant or valuable again at some point in the future. Unfortunately, storing them in your attic is one way to ensure they'll never work again.

"Extreme heat and moisture can ruin the wiring and computer systems in electronics," Saltman says.

And it's not just the devices: "While you're at it, don't keep DVDs, CDs, records, or hard drives in your attic either. Extreme temperatures can ruin these items too," she cautions.

Paintings and antiques

white woman hanging painting on wall

As timeless items, paintings and antiques can often make their way in and out of design schemes in your home. Just make sure you're not keeping them on your top floor if you want to keep them around for another generation.

"A good rule of thumb to follow is that if it's sentimental, can't be replaced, and is very valuable—either for monetary or sentimental reasons—then don't store it in your attic where it can be ruined by moisture and pests," advises Saltman.

Food products

Organized pantry
Container Store

Whether you like to shop in bulk or you just don't have a pantry quite big enough for your needs, the attic might seem like a tempting place to keep extra food. However, this storage arrangement can lead to bigger problems for your home.

"Edibles of any kind should not be kept in your attic," says Saltman. "They will likely attract pests even if stored in sealed plastic containers." Remember this also includes items like bulk pet food or bird seed.

If you absolutely need to reclaim some space in your kitchen, Saltman says pots, pans, and other oversized cookware or appliances are all great items to stash in the attic. Just make sure to clean them thoroughly before bringing them upstairs.

Cardboard boxes

moving boxes things to throw away

Sometimes, it's not just what you're storing in your attic that can be a mistake, but how you're storing it. And according to Saltman, the traditional cardboard box is one of the worst ways to stash anything on your top floor.

"Over time, not only can cardboard disintegrate, but those boxes are also an easy target for mice and other critters to investigate," she warns. "If you are going to store items, use plastic bins with tops that attach securely."

Ultimately, making the investment to switch to sturdier containers can also be more convenient. "Using clear bins with secure tops will help keep problems to a minimum," suggests Saltman. "Still, be sure to label each bin on the outside so you know exactly what is being stored."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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