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What Can I Safely Store in a Shed?

Now you have a shed. You can move some of the stuff you’ve been piling up in your garage or carport into the shed and get them out of the way. You now have a home for the lawnmower and tiller. No more trying to find specific tools tangled up in a crowded drawer; you can hang them up on the hooks you installed in your shed.

You have a place to store your snow shovel in the summer and the seeder in the winter. Sooner or later, however, you will come across an item you wish to store in the shed and wonder if the shed is a suitable place for it.

What Can You Store in a Storage Shed?

Gasoline can be safely stored in a shed in the proper containers, as it is resistant to freezing. Propane tanks can also be stored, but it’s best to store them on a shelf, as they may get too cold on the floor in winter. Outdoor furniture, toys and sports equipment, including bicycles, can also stay in the shed over winter. Some seasonal decorations can also stay here as long as you are mindful of their materials.

Hard items, such as tools and garden implements are fine to store in a shed. Be sure to dry your garden tools after use. If your shed shows any signs of dampness, be sure to inspect your tools for signs of rust or corrosion. While rust can be removed easily by soaking the tools for a day in vinegar and removing any remaining rust with a steel pad, you don’t want to end up with a pair of pruning shears that have so much rust that you can’t get them open.

What Should Not Be Stored in a Storage Shed?

When considering what can and can’t be stored in a shed, there are factors to be examined. One obvious factor is temperature. Unless your shed is well insulated and complete with heat and air conditioning, the temperature changes and extremes inside your shed will be considerable.

Think about which items will and will not melt in the heat or be harmed by freezing in the winter. Even common yard chemicals such as liquid insecticides or herbicides can be harmed by freezing. When you try to mix a batch in your tank sprayer next spring you may find that the chemical has separated, maybe even forming globs of semi-solid matter.

Any humidity or moisture in your shed can cause mildew, which can make cardboard storage boxes go limp and the flaps separate on the bottom. If you have a humid shed, be sure to take that into consideration. Any sensitive items that can be affected by moisture should not be stored in your shed, such as electronic equipment and musical instruments.

Since it is outside, your shed is bound to have some moisture in it from time to time, despite precautions. Opening up your shed to air out a few times a week will help keep moisture from hanging in the air inside, especially if you have a window. Using a product designed to absorb humidity in the air will also help.

While most sheds have enough protection from animals to keep out the curious, if one of them smells food, it will likely find a way in, especially a mouse or rat. Some fertilizers, such as bone meal, smell like food to rodents, so if the product came in a paper bag, it’s best to put the bag into another container to deter the pests.

Your shed will not be an alternative for a safety deposit box. Any books, paperwork or photos you wish to keep should stay in the house. Photos will stick to each other, and paper will become limp or moldy eventually if stored in a shed. Likewise, a shed is not a good idea for long-term storage of clothing or bedding, as it will eventually become moldy over time or provide fine nesting materials for rodents.

Can I Store Canned Goods in My Shed?

You might think that canned goods are safe in a shed, but actually they are not. Even canned food can be spoiled if the cans sit in temperatures over 100 degrees F. Cans containing food can swell if frozen, breaking the seal on the can. While buying food in bulk or on sale is great for the budget, a shed is not useful for the long-term storage of food.

Short-term storage of some items is possible, however. If you store any foodstuffs or pet food in your shed, be sure to fit it into containers with firm lids. For instance, four extra loaves of bread will fit into a clean, square kitty litter bucket with a lid for winter storage.

How to Choose Which Things to Store in a Shed

Basically, hard items are the safest thing to store in a shed. This includes your tools, such as carpentry or garden tools, and the larger items such as lawn tractors. One caveat is that any battery-powered hand or yard tools should not be stored with batteries. Remove any batteries and store them in the house.

Paints and chemicals may be stored for a year or two if they won’t be subjected to more than an occasional brief freeze, but they will deteriorate into something lumpy after this. Extra kitchenware such as pots and pans can be boxed up and stored there. Any soft goods should be stored on a temporary basis with a thought to the current temperatures and humidity.


Sheds are a great place to store things, but they aren’t great for everything. They also aren’t a good idea for long-term storage. You can’t store leftover paint for 15 years and expect to use it again. One way to keep items sorted is to write the date of storage on any chemicals, paint or other liquid items.

Go through them at least once a year and examine them, discarding any liquids that show signs of change, such as separating or lumpiness. This will not only keep your shed from storing useless items but keep it free of clutter that just keeps piling up and prevent you from having to spend a weekend cleaning years of junk out.