What you can and can’t put in a self-storage unit and why it is essential to know

From parking your boat in August to stowing your Christmas decorations in January, you can use storage units for a whole host of reasons—but not everything gets the seal of approval.

Here are some things you should not place away in a storage unit:

  • Flammable or combustible items
  • Hazardous materials
  • Items that will attract pests
  • Items that are susceptible to mould or mildew
  • Anything living (e.g., plants, animals, people)

Most items are covered.

Whether you need to hang your fishing rods away for the winter or stash outgrown baby clothes until you’re ready for your next child, you can use your storage unit to host most household items.
But before you pack away your prized possessions, get familiar with your storage facility’s rules so you know what can and can’t sit in your unit.

Items that are okay for you to store in your storage unit


Unused and extra furniture are some of the most common items placed in storage units. Just be cautious: Do wrap up your oriental rug and your antique silver table your grandmother left you. You can use old blankets or large cardboard boxes.

Seasonal items

Looking to stash your Halloween haunted house trappings or those holiday lights you finally get around to taking down in January? Storage units are useful for keeping seasonal decorations you need to drag out just once a year.

Household goods

Boxes of photo albums, your kids’ trophy collections, and that overpriced silverware you’ve never had the right occasion to use are all okay to put in storage. If you only need access to household items once in a blue moon, use your storage unit to free up garage space.


Your storage unit is a perfect spot to secure and protect appliances, like your extra washer and dryer set or that old microwave from your college dorm room, while they’re not in use and your not sure you want to sell.


Clothing, including shoes, should be packed in airtight boxes or bins—you don’t want pests to chew through those cashmere jumpers you splurged on all those years ago.


Favourite books are similar to clothing and furniture: pack them in airtight boxes to protect them from humidity and pest damage. Maybe you have some old iconic videotapes or a cassette player you want to surprise your grandkids with on their 21st. You will want to store them safely in airtight


Electronics need extra attention. Make sure you carefully wrap these items and pack them in boxes to prevent scratches, dents, or dust from clogging up vents. You never know when you might want to pull out that extra TV.

Cars, boats, motorcycles, and RVs

Most registered vehicles are sufficient to sit in storage—though some facilities also require that the vehicle is insured and operable. If you’re a car enthusiast and need a home for your vintage FJ Holden, make sure you have insurance on your car.


Stashing beer, wine, and spirits in a storage unit is entirely acceptable.
The tremendous special that you got in July, will pay off at Christmas when you get your secret stash.

Certain non-perishable foods

Canned goods, MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat), freeze-dried foods in airtight packaging, and dry pasta, wheat, rice, beans, milks, and other grains are usually okay to sit in storage. Always remember, the food items must be protected from vermin and sealed in plastic boxes. Even go that one extra mile and place in plastic bags first and then the plastic box/container.

Don’t leave perishable foods.

Don’t plan on storing meat, cereal, dairy products, produce, or any other type of food that can spoil. Even your dog’s kibble is a no-go.

No cash on these premises

Generally speaking, insurance policies for self-storage don’t cover cash, so we recommend you don’t stash any in your unit (even if you hide it super well).

Packing Tip

Make the most of the space in your storage unit by removing the legs (when possible) from your dining, coffee, and side tables—this will make them easier to stack.

Combustible and flammable items are forbidden.

Flammable items put your storage unit at risk of catching fire. If there’s a spike in temperature, combustible materials could explode. Here’s a full list of things to avoid:

  • Propane tanks
  • Aerosols (e.g., hairspray and cooking spray)
  • Jerry cans (fuel cans)
  • Gasoline or anything containing gasoline
  • Lighter fluid
  • Linseed oil
  • Paint
  • Explosives
  • Fireworks
  • Kerosene lamps
  • Fertiliser
  • Asbestos or anything containing asbestos
  • Acid (car batteries and drain cleaners may contain acid)
  • Propane tanks
  • Biological waste (e.g., syringes and needles)
  • Toxic or corrosive waste (e.g., old batteries and leftover paint)

Hazardous materials

Combustible liquids and hazardous chemicals aren’t allowed. Here’s the full list of these prohibited items that will get the boot:

  • Cleaning products
  • Ammonia or bleach
  • Insecticides
  • Roofing tar
  • Pesticides
  • Paint, paint thinner, and paint remover


It may seem obvious, but garbage belongs in the dumpster. Trash attracts bugs and vermin—plus, it’ll stink up the place.

One last thing

It’s illegal to live or work in a storage unit. In other words, you can’t turn your storage unit into your home or office. If you get caught for either, you’ll likely forfeit your unit (and get in trouble with the law).

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Dolphin Storage is a member of the Self Storage Association of Australasia