7 things you should never store in the attic — and you’ll be surprised

Attic ladder
Attic ladder (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The attic is the most common place where homeowners throw anything and everything. Be it holiday decorations, old furniture or electronic gadgets, it’s a great place to hide excess clutter, especially when living space is lacking.

But while it’s tempting to stash away random items (never to be seen again), there are things that you simply should not store in the attic. In fact, incorrect storage will probably do more damage than good to your precious belongings. 

This is because attics are located at the top of a property, and prone to changing temperatures throughout the year. Extreme heat can cause humidity, which is often the case in old properties if attics are left unfinished or not fully insulated. 

So, before you accumulate more clutter to put away, here are surprising things that we should never store in the attic. Plus, here are 7 things you should never store in your garage, and 7 things  you should never store in the shed — but probably are!

1. Paint

Three cans of paint

Three cans of paint (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re decorating and need somewhere to store your paints, the attic is a no-no. Oil paints in particular are highly flammable, and latex paints can break down under extreme temperatures, making them unusable. Instead, store paints in a temperature controlled environment such as a spare cabinet.  

 2. Old photos, books and important documents 

Old photographs and documents

Old photographs and documents (Image credit: Shutterstock)

We often store precious photo albums or filed paperwork in the attic, but it’s actually the worst place. Big changes in humidity and heat may ruin prints or make them stick together. Similarly, pages in books can damage or become discolored from humidity. If you want to preserve those vintage photographs or books, these should be stored in a protective box or shelf in a dry area. Plus, no one wants to read a dog-eared book! 

3. Electronics 

Box of electronics

Box of electronics (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Be it an old TV, laptop or computers, electronics should never be stored in the attic. Again, the extreme humidity can overheat electronics or even prevent them from working. Store old electrical items in a cool environment or even better, you can recycle, donate or sell. At least it’s a good opportunity to make a bit of extra cash!

4. Food and drink

Box of food

Box of food (Image credit: Shutterstock)

While it’s common to stockpile on your pantry supplies, any perishables can easily spoil from humid temperatures during summer months. What’s more, the heat will essentially cook your tinned goods before you get a chance to eat them! Always store food, drink and other perishables in sealed containers or boxes in a cool and dry place. Plus, the last thing you want is to create the perfect retreat for mice or any other pests in the attic.

5. Christmas decorations 

Box of holiday decorations

Box of holiday decorations (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Most of us tend to stash festive decor in the attic only to let it reemerge 330-or-so odd days later, but this is a no-no. Delicate or handmade decorations made from wood or natural materials may easily destroy from extreme humidity. However, synthetic or plastic decorations are more durable for attic storage.  

6. Wood furniture or musical instruments 

Wooden musical instruments

Wooden musical instruments (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Avoid storing wood furniture, instruments or any other item in the attic. Wood easily absorbs heat and humidity, causing it to warp or destroy the finish. Plus this doesn’t bode well if you wanted to dig out that violin or guitar you haven’t played in years. Wooden items should always be kept in a cooler space or inside a suitable cabinet/ unit. 

7.  Highly flammable objects 

Kerosene heater

Kerosene heater (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Never store flammable items such as kerosene heaters, oil lamps, certain cleaning products, aerosol sprays and batteries. High temperatures in the summertime can cause these to explode and become a fire hazard. Always store batteries and other flammables in a well-ventilated area such as a garage, basement or outhouse. In addition, keep them away from stoves or fireplaces. 

Things you can store in the attic

Attic storage

Attic storage (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Suitcases — Travel luggage and bags can be stored in the attic. Make sure they are in a spot that you can easily reach. 

Spare cookware — Pots, pans or any other cookware are resilient to extreme temperature change and is fine to store in the attic. 

Camping and outdoor gear — Camping or outdoor gear are usually durable and made from weather-resistant materials. These are able to withstand extreme temperature changes.

Plastic and metal items — Metal bedframes, chairs, play tables or cages are better suited for attic storage. Similarly, plastic toys or other items should be durable for an  attic environment.

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!