There are few things more satisfying than decluttering your home.
We all want to keep things neat and tidy, and many of us make full use of our available storage space to store and store items we don’t currently use, from old toys and clothes to important documents.
The garage is a popular choice for keeping things tidy out of sight, as is the attic or loft.
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But while storing our things up there can be handy, one expert has warned that keeping things in the attic could damage them – or worse.
Joyce French, cleaning expert at HomeHow, said keeping some items there could ruin them forever and even pose a risk to your safety
From wine bottles to old Christmas decorations – here are the seven things you should never keep in the loft.
This one might surprise a few people – after all, where are cardboard boxes supposed to go?
But if you’re using them to store certain things in your attic, it might be time to reconsider, Joyce warning that they can become a breeding ground for pests.
Mice and insects are attracted to cardboard and glue, feed on it and make it their home.
These boxes also tend to get damp and can disintegrate over time, which could damage the valuables inside.
Whether it’s an old cassette player or a Sega Megadrive, we all have beloved electronics that we just can’t put down.
However, in a hot loft, electronics can easily overheat and circuits can explode and ruin your item forever.
Instead, these types of items are best kept in a cooler environment downstairs – or, if you can bear to part with them, you can take them to a recycling center or sell them online.
Every January, many of us make the same trip to the loft to put away the holiday decorations for another year.
But you could be in for a nasty surprise when December returns if you keep your balls and garlands in the attic.
Delicate fabrics, painted items and some plastic ornaments can warp from the heat, while a humid environment, such as the attic, can further damage them.
Instead, Joyce recommends that decorations be kept in a large plastic box in a cool environment, such as the garage.
If you’ve inherited an old wooden table or a few chairs, but don’t want to get rid of them, maybe think twice about storing them in the attic.
Wood can warp in humidity, crack in heat, and even develop mold in particularly humid conditions.
Woodworms are another thing to consider – if you keep them in the attic, you might come back to find that your table is half a foot missing!
You may not be able to find a use for the leftover paint you have from the bathroom – but keeping it in the attic could damage it forever and pose a major safety risk.
The severe temperature fluctuations that can occur in the attic can break down latex paint, rendering it unusable, while oil-based paints are even more off-limits for the attic, according to Joyce.
These paints are highly flammable and can heat to dangerous combustible levels if stored in a hot roof space. Instead, they should be kept in a temperature-controlled area, like a spare cabinet.
Many of us keep important documents in the attic. After all, it’s convenient to have everything – from birth certificates to passports and old bank statements – stored together in one place.
However, you may want to reconsider storing them in the attic if you plan to re-read them.
Old paper does not handle temperature fluctuations well and may begin to fade, become damp, dusty or sticky over time.
It’s safer to buy a filing cabinet and keep important documents in a climate-controlled room, like a bedroom or office.
Food and wine
There are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t keep food or drink in the attic.
Some attic spaces can get so hot during the summer months that the canned goods will start to cook inside the box – so if you plan on storing baked beans, look for another place to store them.
Hot temperatures can also spoil expensive wines, while mice and rats thrive in a damp attic environment and can also contaminate and chew food.
Instead, Joyce says perishables and wine bottles should be stored in a cool, dry place so they remain safe for consumption even after a long period of storage.
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