Make Your Basement Safe for Storage

pioneer (9)It’s the unusual, and lucky, person who doesn’t want more storage space. Even people who are ruthless about clutter need a place for their “must keep” items.  Thank goodness for basements.  When used properly a basement can be a great place to safely store a variety of objects for a long time. 

Unfortunately, in most households basement storage just happens, there’s no organization to it.  Items are tossed into unsuitable boxes and bags, then “temporarily” put in corners, on shelves and in cabinets — where they stay for years. 

People often unintentionally damage or ruin their things, sometimes important keepsakes and valuables.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  A little bit of knowledge and planning can go a long way toward making sure your possessions are protected.  Here are some things to consider when making your basement safe for storage.

  • Every house and basement has bugs, so it’s smart to plan for them.  What kind do you have?  Are they the kind who do damage and need to be exterminated (carpenter ants, termites)?  Or are they the kind to create deterrents for (spiders — sealed bags and boxes, or moths — balls or cedar chips)?
  • Think about plastic or wire shelves instead of wood.  Wood shelves absorb moisture and can damage items stored on them. 
  • Get a dehumidifier, it’ll help control dampness and odors.
  • Go through your belongings and decide what storage containers and packing materials are appropriate for them.  Grandma’s quilt (damp) and your mother’s good china (breakage) need something different.
  • People often store tools, iron or steel possessions in the basement thinking it’s safe.  They don’t think about rust until they unpack Uncle Joe’s vintage train set and see that it’ll need major, expensive repairs to get it back to the condition it was in when first packed.  Consider a light coating of machine oil every few years for protection. 
  • Furniture can easily get ruined in a basement.  Moisture, odors and bugs can damage it fast and beyond repair.  Consider using unbleached drop cloths or old color fast sheets to drape over it.  Store it at least 3 inches from the wall and elevated on non-wood pallets, bricks or blocks to prevent moisture damage. 

Basements are funny places — they hold our cherished memories alongside our junk.  It’s worth the time to safeguard the valuable and useful.  After all, what will your kids put in their basements if you don’t preserve anything to give them?


Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 200 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes.