Things to Avoid With a Storage Unit

Written by: Editorial Team - Published: Jun 21, 2024


Protecting a storage facility and the belongings therein goes beyond basic security measures like keycodes and video surveillance. Self-storage companies must also consider the types of items tenants are storing and decide what will and won’t be allowed on the premises. Each storage company will have its own set of unique rules, regulations, and policies in place to keep the facility safe and lawful. Ever wonder why you can’t keep your winter tires in your storage unit? We have the answer. In this guide, we’ll talk about 10 things you should never keep in your storage unit and go into detail about why.


10 Items You Shouldn’t Keep in a Storage Unit

1. Flammable or combustible items

So, what should you not put in a storage unit? Anything explosive, combustible, or flammable. If you don’t want to be held responsible for the storage facility going up in flames, don’t store anything that could explode or catch fire. Managers who even suspect that someone is storing flammable items will call the authorities. Depending on local law, storing certain dangerous items can result in felony charges. Gasoline, fireworks, oil, propane, paint, and harsh cleaners should be kept safely elsewhere. 

2. Hazardous materials

According to the General Services Administration, hazardous materials are defined as “substances or chemicals that pose a health hazard, a physical hazard, or harm to the environment.” Things like ammonia, acetone, chlorine bleach, fertilizers, microorganisms, and infectious substances should not be kept in your storage unit. Keeping these items stored at home properly will prevent the release of fumes, gases, and contamination. Hazardous materials pose too much of a threat to the items in your unit and those in surrounding units.

3. Firearms

It’s common for storage facilities to prohibit any kind of firearms on their premises. There are no federal laws on the storage of guns, so this will largely depend on local laws and company preferences. The law considers a firearm “any destructive device” that “is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.” Ammunition also falls under this category as it is explosive and therefore a safety issue. 

4. Cash

Although storage facilities don’t usually include cash on the “prohibited” list, it’s strongly recommended that you not keep cash in your unit. Even with security measures in place, storage unit break-ins are still a possibility. If that were to happen and the cash was found, there’s no doubt it would be stolen. Remember the insurance you bought when you signed the lease? That doesn’t cover cash. It would be a total loss. 

5. Fur clothing

Because fur clothing and fur rugs can be easily damaged or ruined, some storage companies won’t allow you to keep them in your unit. Fur must be kept in dry environments at a moderate and consistent temperature. When exposed to high temperatures, fur can actually molt off the hide, which makes outdoor storage units an especially poor location to keep fur. They may be allowed in certain climate-controlled units, but this exception will vary depending on each facility.  

6. Uninsured or unregistered vehicles

Many storage lots have designated parking spots for cars, trailers, boats, and RVs. Any vehicle parked within a storage facility must be registered and insured. Many insurance agencies offer “parked-car insurance.” This provides you with continued coverage for any damage or theft that might happen while your car is parked, often at a lower price than regular insurance. As for registration, storage companies need to know that you are the owner of the vehicle you’re storing. They don’t want to be inadvertently storing stolen property!

7. Tires

Unfortunately, storage facilities usually place tires on the “do not store” list. There are several reasons tires aren’t allowed in your unit. First, tires are difficult to dispose of. If a unit is abandoned or the tenant passes away and no one claims the items, the storage company is left to deal with selling or throwing away any items left behind. Second, tires are flammable and can burn for a long time. Some companies may consider this a fire hazard.

8. Wet items

Moisture can be a big problem when it comes to storing items. The dark, enclosed space of a storage unit is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Be sure to completely dry out items that are designed to get wet, such as wetsuits, life jackets, kayaks, etc. Eliminating any kind of moisture within your storage unit will prevent damage to your belongings. Once something starts to grow on one item, it can easily spread to everything else within the unit, leading to rot and damage.

9. Perishable items

Storing anything perishable is not allowed. Whether it’s produce, pantry items, or pet food, anything that is not shelf stable is a pest and safety issue. Not only can these things rot and grow mold, but they will undoubtedly attract unwanted creatures like rodents and insects. Pest damage can range from chewed-up furniture to nests and droppings soiling your mattresses or clothing. This is an immediate threat to the items in your unit, but pests can easily spread and venture into your neighbors’ units too.

10. Plants and animals

No living (or dead) plant or animal should ever be kept in a storage unit. This should go without saying, but you would be surprised at what people attempt to stow away. Again, pests and fungus are the number one concern with plants especially. As for animals, a storage unit is not suitable for any living being. So many things could go wrong, and it’s unacceptable to keep an animal in a dark, poorly ventilated room.

What You Can Keep in a Storage Unit

Now that we’ve established what shouldn’t be kept in a storage unit, let’s go over items that are perfectly acceptable to store:

  • Furniture: According to this StorageCafe survey, 51% of self-storage customers use the majority of their unit space for furniture. 
  • Books: It’s easy to accumulate an impressive collection of books over the years. Your storage unit is a great place to keep the ones you’re not quite ready to part with. 
  • Decorations: Keep your seasonal decorations out of precious closet space at home and store them in a unit instead. You only pull them out once a year anyway!
  • Clothes: Similar to seasonal decorations, keeping space in your storage unit for season-specific clothes is a good option to free up storage at home. 
  • Toys: Storage units are a great place to keep vintage toys from your childhood or sentimental toys you would like to keep for your kids.