How to Store Things in a Damp Garage

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When I moved into our current home, we immediately started storing things in our garage because we didn’t have enough closet space. Unfortunately, the garage was so damp that some of our stuff started to develop mold, mildew, and even rust.

We had to throw out several boxes of clothes, blankets, and books. It was a hard lesson but it taught me how to properly store items in a damp garage. 

In this guide, I’ll share some of the best practices for storing items in a damp garage and how you can protect your belongings from damage from excess moisture.


How To Store Items In A Damp Garage

From luggage and sports equipment to tools, hobby supplies, pantry extras, and even boxes of old family photo albums add clutter to your home, so they end up being stored in the garage.

Finding out your garage is damp may make you want to retrieve all the stuff from your garage and store it in your living room and kitchen.

The key is to avoid overreacting. Before moving everything back into your house, there are ways you can safely store your items in a damp garage.

Never use cardboard boxes or plastic bags for storage. 

  • Don’t leave things in your garage unprotected. Items must be covered or stored in a container to prevent rust, mildew, mold from forming or moisture damage.
  • The easiest and safest way to store things in a damp garage is to use airtight plastic containers. Avoid using containers that may rust or develop mold.
  • Never store your things in cardboard moving boxes. The moisture will seep through the cardboard and destroy the contents. Similarly, avoid storing anything in plastic bags. The flimsy plastic will attract mildew.
  • Install metal cabinets and shelving rather than wooden ones. And ensure these are rust-proof. 
  • You want to allow airflow around your storage containers. Keep your items off the floor by storing them in overhead racks or wooden pallets on the garage floor.
  • Adding a drying agent like silica gel packs to your storage containers is worth adding. These will help keep your items free from moisture. 
Water damage in a concrete garage

How To Keep Your Things Dry In A Damp Garage

A damp garage is not ideal, but you need to work with what you have. The goal is to keep the garage as dry as possible. 

Garages can quickly become dumping grounds for everything you don’t have room for in your home. This excess clutter decreases airflow and helps cause a build-up of even more moisture. You can prevent clutter by using shelves and storage bins to organize the things you need to keep. 

Try to eliminate sources of moisture. 

For example, if you have a refrigerator in your garage, check that no condensation is forming or that the drip tray is not full. 

Inspect your garage for leaks, and then seal any that you find. This will reduce the degree of dampness in your garage. 

Adding a dehumidifier in the garage will absorb moisture in the air and help protect your things from moisture. You could also install an exhaust fan on the roof of your garage. This will help regulate the temperature in your garage and reduce humidity.

If you live in a very cold climate, installing a heater in the garage is well worth it. Maintaining a stable temperature will reduce condensation in the garage.

Finally, good ventilation in your garage makes it harder for moisture to accumulate. 


Things You Should Not Store In A Damp Garage

No matter how well you prepare, there are certain items that you shouldn’t store in your garage, especially if it is damp. 

Here are a few examples:

  1. Important documents: Items such as birth certificates, passports, and other essential documents should be kept in a safe and dry place, away from potential water damage or humidity.
  2. Electronics: Electronics such as computers, televisions, and other devices can be damaged by moisture, heat, and cold. They should be stored in a climate-controlled area of your home.
  3. Artwork: Paintings, sculptures, and other types of artwork can be damaged by humidity, temperature changes, and pests. It is recommended to store them in a controlled environment that is specifically designed for their preservation.
  4. Clothing and fabrics: Clothing, linens, and fabrics can be damaged by moisture, pests, and mildew. They should be stored in a dry and climate-controlled area of your home.
  5. Food items: Most foods should never be stored in a garage. It attracts pests and can spoil quickly in extreme temperatures.

Generally, it is best to avoid storing items in a garage that can be damaged by temperature changes, moisture, or pests. Instead, look for a dry and controlled environment in your home to store these items.


How To Store Furniture In A Damp Garage

Furniture is a special case, so you must take extra care when storing it in your garage, especially if you have a moisture problem. 

If you store wooden furniture, like tables, chairs, or shelving, try to disassemble them as far as possible.

This will make it easier for you to wrap the furniture so that no dampness comes through. Wipe away any dust and ensure the furniture pieces are completely dry. Then wrap securely with plastic sheeting. Ensure that the furniture is covered completely.

Mattresses stored in a garage, wrapped in plastic

Clean upholstered sofas or chairs with an antibacterial detergent. Allow them to dry thoroughly before covering them with plastic sheeting and storing them in the garage.

If you are storing a mattress in your garage, always cover it in a mattress bag for additional protection.

While metals like brass and bronze will not rust, mold can develop on them. To prevent this from happening, ensure they are covered.

A good tip is to unscrew any brass or bronze handles and knobs from furniture, particularly if it is going to be stored long-term, and store them in an airtight container.

To ensure your furniture is well protected, use a double layer of plastic sheeting and secure it with masking tape. 

Avoid placing furniture directly on the floor. Instead, put down pallets and place furniture on these. 


Wrapping It Up

Discovering that your garage has water damage or is damp will likely make you think twice about using it for storage. However, with some planning, you can safely store your items in your garage despite being damp.

Always ensure that items are clean and dry before storing them in the garage.

Use containers, shelving, and cabinets that can withstand damp conditions. When possible, store items in airtight containers to reduce moisture. Store them off the ground on metal shelves or cabinets. 

Finally, ensure the garage is kept as dry as possible by using a dehumidifier or moisture absorber. 

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.