As winter approaches, it’s crucial to prepare not just your home but also your outdoor storage areas for the impending cold. While your shed might seem convenient to tuck away various items, certain things are better off stored elsewhere during the harsh winter months.
If your shed is heated and weather-sealed, most items can be stored in there year-round without any consequences. However, most outdoor sheds are unheated and are not protected from the natural elements, meaning special storage care is required.
From garden tools to household chemicals, understanding what to keep out of your unheated shed can save you from costly damages and ensure the longevity of your belongings. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with freezing temperatures, snow, or moisture; these tips will help you maintain the condition of your items and avoid any unnecessary winter-related complications.
This article lists 50 items that should NOT be kept in your unheated outdoor shed when temperatures drop.
1. Paint, Primer, and Stains
Exposure to freezing temperatures causes paint, primer, and stains to deteriorate, leading to separation and clumping. This process ruins their texture and consistency, making them unusable for future applications. To preserve their quality, store these items in a dry, temperature-controlled environment, away from extreme cold.
2. Lawn Mower with Fuel in the Tank
Storing a lawn mower with fuel in the tank during winter can lead to fuel degradation and damage to the mower’s engine. The cold weather can cause the fuel to thicken or gel, leading to clogs and potential engine problems. It’s best to store lawn mowers without fuel or in a warmer space.
3. Gasoline Cans
Gasoline stored in cans can expand and contract with temperature fluctuations, potentially leading to leaks or spills. In extreme cold, gasoline can also become less effective, impacting its performance in engines. It’s safer to store gasoline in a stable, temperature-controlled environment.
4. Garden Hoses
Cold temperatures can make garden hoses brittle, leading to cracks and leaks. Water left inside the hose can freeze, expanding and causing further damage. To extend their lifespan, drain and store hoses in a warmer location during winter.
5. Holiday Decorations
Moisture and cold in sheds can damage holiday decorations, especially those made of delicate materials. Cold temperatures can make certain materials brittle, while moisture can lead to mold or discoloration. Store these items in a dry, indoor area to maintain their condition.
6. Liquid Fertilizers
Liquid fertilizers can freeze in cold temperatures, altering their chemical composition and rendering them ineffective. The expansion of the liquid can also cause containers to burst. Store them in a place where temperatures remain above freezing to maintain their efficacy.
7. Wooden Garden Furniture (Especially Painted)
Wooden furniture can suffer in cold, damp conditions. The wood may warp or crack, and painted surfaces can peel or become discolored. It’s best to protect wooden garden furniture by storing it in a dry, sheltered location during winter.
8. Clay Pots and Planters
Clay pots and planters are prone to cracking when exposed to freezing temperatures, as the moisture within the clay expands when frozen. To prevent damage, store these items in a frost-free environment.
9. Herbicides and Pesticides
The effectiveness of herbicides and pesticides can be compromised in cold temperatures. Freezing can change their chemical composition, reducing their effectiveness or even rendering them harmful. Store these chemicals in a controlled environment to preserve their properties.
10. Solar-Powered Garden Lights
Solar-powered garden lights contain batteries that can be damaged by cold temperatures, leading to reduced efficiency or failure. The solar panels themselves can also be less effective in colder, darker winter conditions. Store them indoors to prevent weather-related damage.
11. Softscaping Materials Like Mulch or Peat Moss
Storing these materials in a shed can attract rodents and insects seeking shelter and nesting material during the cold months. Additionally, the damp conditions of winter can cause these materials to decompose or mold, diminishing their quality for future gardening use.
12. Liquid Pond Treatments
These treatments can lose their effectiveness if they freeze, which often happens in an unheated shed. The freezing process can alter their chemical composition, making them unsuitable for maintaining pond health. It’s preferable to store them in a place where they won’t freeze.
13. Home Electronics
The cold and damp conditions in a shed are detrimental to home electronics. The low temperatures can damage internal components and screens, while moisture can cause corrosion and short circuits. It’s best to keep electronics in a dry, warm environment.
Storing batteries in cold conditions can significantly reduce their charge and lifespan. The cold affects the chemical processes inside the batteries, making them less efficient and potentially unusable. Store batteries in a moderate temperature to ensure their longevity.
15. Liquid Cleaners
These can freeze in low temperatures, which can change their chemical composition and effectiveness. Some may also expand when frozen, risking container rupture. To maintain their efficacy, store liquid cleaners in a frost-free environment.
16. Propane Tanks
Extreme cold can cause the pressure inside propane tanks to fluctuate, potentially leading to leaks or reduced effectiveness. It’s safer to store propane tanks in a stable, temperature-controlled area to prevent these risks.
17. Garden Machinery (Non-Winterized)
Cold weather can damage the internal components of garden machinery, especially if they’re not winterized. The cold can thicken lubricants, strain motors, and crack hoses, leading to costly repairs or replacements.
18. Gardening Equipment with Fuel
Fuel in gardening equipment can thicken or gel in cold temperatures, which can clog fuel lines and damage engines. It’s advisable to drain fuel before winter storage or keep the equipment in a warmer area.
19. Power Tools
The batteries in power tools are susceptible to cold temperatures, which can decrease their charge capacity and lead to permanent battery damage. Additionally, cold can make the metal components brittle, risking breakage during use.
20. Sprinkler Systems
If water remains in sprinkler systems during freezing temperatures, it can expand and crack the pipes and fittings. To avoid such damage, it’s essential to drain and store these systems in a place where they won’t freeze.
21. Power Washers
Storing power washers in cold sheds can cause internal components, like hoses and seals, to crack or degrade due to freezing temperatures. This can lead to leaks and reduced functionality. Store them in a warmer, dry area to prevent such damage and maintain their operational integrity.
22. Garden Statues (Resin/Glass)
Resin and glass garden statues are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures, which can cause them to crack or shatter. The material becomes more brittle in the cold, making these items more susceptible to damage. It’s better to store them indoors or in a protected area during winter.
23. Water-Based Garden Products
These products can freeze when stored in unheated sheds, leading to separation and loss of effectiveness. The expansion from freezing can also cause containers to burst. Store them in a frost-free location to keep them usable.
24. Seedlings or Sensitive Plants
Cold temperatures can be fatal to seedlings and sensitive plants. The freezing environment of an unheated shed can cause root damage and kill the plants. Keep these delicate items in a warm, indoor space during winter for protection.
25. Inflatable Decorations
The material of inflatable decorations can degrade in cold weather, leading to cracks and holes. The cold can also damage the internal mechanisms used for inflation. Store these decorations in a dry, indoor area to ensure they last for future use.
26. Liquid Pond Treatments
Already covered earlier in the list, but to reiterate, these treatments lose effectiveness when frozen, and their containers may burst. Store them in a place with stable, above-freezing temperatures.
27. Pool Chemicals
Exposure to cold can alter the chemical composition of pool chemicals, making them less effective or even unsafe for use. To preserve their efficacy, store them in a temperature-controlled environment away from extreme cold.
28. Garden Gloves/Cloth-based Tools
Cloth-based garden items can absorb moisture, leading to mold and mildew growth in a cold, damp shed. To maintain their condition, store these items in a dry, indoor area.
29. Grill Covers
Cold temperatures can make grill covers stiff, causing them to crack or tear more easily. Keeping them indoors during the winter months helps to preserve their flexibility and protective qualities.
30. Outdoor Rugs and Cushions
These items can trap moisture, which, in combination with cold temperatures, leads to the growth of mold and mildew. Store them in a dry, warm place to prevent this damage and extend their lifespan.
31. Plastic Garden Tools
The cold can make plastic brittle, increasing the risk of breaking or cracking. Store plastic garden tools in a warmer environment to maintain their durability and usefulness.
32. Bulbs and Seeds
Bulbs and seeds can be damaged by freezing temperatures or become a target for rodents in a shed. To ensure their viability for planting, store them in a cool, dry place indoors.
33. Potted Plants with Moist Soil
The soil in potted plants can freeze in cold temperatures, damaging plant roots and potentially killing the plant. Store these plants in a location where the temperature is consistently above freezing.
34. Trellises and Plant Supports (Plastic/Metal)
Cold can weaken plastic and metal, making trellises and plant supports more susceptible to breaking. Store them in a place where they’re not exposed to extreme cold to preserve their strength.
35. Sports Equipment
Cold and moisture can warp, crack, or rust various sports equipment. Items like tennis rackets, golf clubs, and bicycles are particularly susceptible. To protect them from damage, store them in a dry, temperate area.
Storing fireworks in a damp shed can render them useless due to moisture absorption. Moisture compromises the explosive material, making them unsafe or ineffective. For safety and to retain their quality, store fireworks in a dry, cool, and secure indoor location.
37. Bicycles, Skateboards, and Scooters
The cold and damp conditions of a shed can cause rust and mechanical damage to bicycles, skateboards, and scooters. Components like chains and bearings are particularly vulnerable. Store these items in a dry, indoor space to prevent deterioration.
38. Glue and Adhesives
These products can freeze in cold temperatures, leading to a loss of effectiveness and changes in consistency. Once frozen, they may not return to their original state, rendering them unusable. Store in a temperate, stable environment to maintain their adhesive properties.
39. Motor Oil
In cold conditions, motor oil can thicken, affecting its ability to lubricate engine parts effectively. This can lead to difficulties in starting engines and potential damage. Store motor oil in a warmer area to ensure it retains its viscosity.
40. Pest Control Products
The efficacy of pest control products can diminish in extreme cold, altering their chemical composition. To ensure they remain effective, store these products in a location that maintains a consistent, moderate temperature.
41. Canned Foods
Canned foods can freeze and expand in a cold shed, potentially causing the cans to burst and spoiling the food. To preserve their quality and prevent waste, store canned foods in a cool, but not freezing, indoor area.
42. Indoor Furniture (Especially Leather Furniture)
Leather and other indoor furniture materials can crack and deteriorate in cold, damp environments. Leather is particularly sensitive to temperature and moisture changes. Store indoor furniture in a climate-controlled environment to maintain its condition.
43. Fabrics and Paper Items
Fabrics can become moldy and paper items can warp or become brittle in the damp, cold conditions of a shed. These items should be stored in a dry, indoor environment to protect them from moisture and temperature damage.
44. Pet Supplies and Foods
Pet food and supplies can attract pests if stored in a shed, and cold temperatures can affect the quality of the food. Store pet supplies and food in a dry, pest-free indoor location to maintain their quality and prevent contamination.
45. Fishing Equipment
Cold temperatures can damage fishing lines, making them brittle and more prone to snapping. Reels and other mechanical components can also suffer in the cold. Store fishing equipment in a temperature-controlled environment to keep it in good working order.
46. Vinyl Records
Vinyl records can warp and crack in cold temperatures. They are also sensitive to moisture, which can damage their delicate grooves. Store vinyl records in a temperature-stable, dry indoor environment to preserve their quality.
Artwork can suffer from exposure to cold and damp conditions, leading to canvas warping, paint cracking, or mold growth. Store artwork in a stable, climate-controlled environment to protect it from temperature and humidity fluctuations.
48. Soda, Beer, Wine, and Other Drinks
These liquids can freeze and expand in cold temperatures, risking container rupture and spoilage. Store beverages in a location where they will remain at a consistent, above-freezing temperature to preserve their quality.
49. Musical Instruments
Cold and humidity can severely damage musical instruments, causing wood to warp, strings to snap, and delicate components to malfunction. Store instruments in a climate-controlled environment to protect their integrity and sound quality.
50. Electric Bikes, Skateboards, Scooters, and One Wheel
The batteries and electronic components in these devices can be damaged by cold and moisture, reducing their lifespan and performance. Store electric mobility devices in a dry, warmer environment to maintain their functionality.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.