What You Can and Cannot Store in a Hot Attic

If you’re getting into prepping and trying to be ready for whatever it is that life my throw at you, one of the primary resources you need is a stockpile of supplies. Sure, you can take advantage of a pantry, basement, or extra closet if you have one. But if you have an attic with plenty of space, you can use that too.

However, heat rises, and air circulation isn’t typically ideal in an attic space, which means temperatures inside of an attic frequently reach three digits during the summer. This can wreak havoc on certain types of supplies.

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So, if you have questions about storing your stockpile in the attic, such as:

  • Is it okay to store stuff in the attic?
  • How do you store things in the attic safely?
  • Can you store cardboard boxes in the attic?
  • Is it safe to store food in the attic?

We’re going to answer those questions in this article today.

Is it okay to store stuff in the attic?

It’s okay to store some things in the attic, especially if you don’t have much space in other areas of your home. But when deciding which items to store in your attic, you want to make sure those items will be safe and still reliable when you need to use them.

Below are some things to consider that will help you determine what you can and cannot store in your attic:

  • How frequently will I need to use this item?
  • Is this item susceptible to heat, moisture, or insects and rodents?
  • How hard will it be to get to this item from the attic if I need it?
  • Is there another storage area in my home that would be safer or more accessible than the attic?
  • How likely is it that my attic could be damaged by a natural disaster or other unexpected event?

Answering some of the above questions about each item will help you decide whether to store the item in the attic and how to store it so that it is protected.

So, let’s start with the things you can typically stockpile in your attic that won’t go bad.

With that in mind, let’s see some survival items we can store in our attics:

✅ toilet paper (a perfect match since it’s bulky)✅ soap, floss and other personal care products
✅ blankets, tarps, tents✅ sheets
✅ gardening tools✅ wood
clothes✅ cooking utensils
✅ books✅ chainsaws
✅ mosquito nets✅ lots and lots of duct tape
✅ inflatable boat, or canoe✅ first aid supplies
✅ off-road go-kart✅ bike
✅ kick-scooter

How do you store things in the attic safely?

None of the above items will “go bad” if you store them in a hot attic. Some of these items, such as wood, a heavy go-kart, or items you use frequently, may not be practical to store in an attic.

Other items such as blankets, sheets, and books may need to be stored in a way that protects them from other issues such as bugs, mice, and mildew.

For items that may be susceptible to moisture from a leaky roof or being chewed or nested in by mice or other rodents, use plastic tub containers or vacuum sealed plastic storage bags.

If there’s a chance that a hurricane or a tornado could hit your house and damage or rip off your roof, that particular portion of your stockpile could be pretty much wasted. Make sure you know your local weather patterns and don’t keep all of your critical preps in the attic.

Use other locations in your home to spread your preps out so if any one area is compromised, you will still have some of the most critical preps safe in another area.

Can you store cardboard boxes in the attic?

When it comes to storing things, cardboard boxes are commonly used. They are fairly easy to get, lightweight, come in a variety of sizes, and you can close them up and stack them.

It seems like a logical way to store things, especially if you have a lot of things to store. But cardboard boxes are not as ideal for storing items as you might think at first for a variety of reasons.

It’s susceptible to moisture. Cardboard absorbs moisture which can cause the box to begin to collapse and which can allow your items to get damp and mildew.

It attracts bugs and rodents. Cardboard is very attractive to many kinds of bugs and insects, including roaches, silverfish, crickets, and termites.

Bugs and insects burrow into the cardboard, chew on it, and nest among the layers. Cardboard that gets damp is even more attractive to bugs.

Mice and other small rodents will chew cardboard and either use it for their nests or worse get inside your boxes and nest among your clothing or other items. This exposes your items to damage from chewing and urine, etc.

Cardboard is also flammable. In the event of a fire in your home, especially one that starts in the wiring within your walls, cardboard boxes in the attic could serve as fuel for the fire.

If you must use cardboard boxes, stack them on pallets so they are up off the floor, do not put heavier boxes on top of lighter ones, and close and seal boxes tightly with packing tape.

When you think about it, this is all common sense and I shouldn’t really be telling you what to store in your own attic.

The reason I wrote this is to give you a heads up about keeping food up there.One last thing, if there’s a chance that a hurricane or a tornado could hit your house and rip off your roof, that particular portion of your stockpile could be pretty much wasted.

Make sure you know your local weather patterns. Whenever possible, use plastic tubs with tight fitting lids instead of cardboard boxes. Plastic tubs can help protect your items from insects, rodents, and even moisture.

Things You Cannot Store in a Hot Attic

We’ve talked about a lot of things you can store in an attic, so now let’s talk about things you cannot store in a hot attic. Most things will be pretty obvious, but there is also one item that many people mistakenly do store in the attic.

Don’t store these items in a hot attic:

  • ❌ Gasoline or any type of flammable fuel such as propane or kerosene
  • ❌ Spray paint or aerosol cans of cleaner or insecticides
  • ❌ Batteries
  • ❌ Clothing or Leather (unless vacuum sealed)
  • ❌ Firearm ammunition
  • ❌ Photographs
  • ❌ Paint or paint thinner
  • ❌ Books (unless stored in waterproof plastic containers)
  • ❌ Cleaning Solutions
  • ❌ Pet Food
  • ❌ Garden pesticides such as fertilizer
  • ❌ Artwork (heat causes cracking)
  • ❌ Important documents
  • ❌ Antique wooden furniture (heat and humidity cause wood to crack)
  • ❌ Seeds

Is it safe to store food in the attic?

Well, I want to start by telling you what you CANNOT store in a hot attic, and that is food. Food needs a cool, dry, dark place for it to last as long as possible and a hot attic is just not gonna cut it.

You might be okay with the fact that food will last a shorter time period, but I strongly advise against storing food in your attic.

No matter how well you seal your Mylar bags, heat is still going to go through. That’s one thing. The other thing is that heat accelerates chemical reactions, which results in food degradation.

In fact, a generally accepted rule of thumb states that for every 18F (or 10C), the reaction doubles in speed. Although this is just a guideline, So, if we consider a base temperature of, say, 50F (22C), when it climbs to 68F your foods start degrading twice as fast.

As it goes higher to 86F, the reactions are accelerated 4 times. At 104F (or 40C), your food is going to spoil 8 times faster (or 2 to the power of 3).

Now, there aren’t that many studies on this, but there was this chart that I saw based on a study done by the U.S Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center, on MREs (meals ready to eat), that clearly showed the shelf life decreasing from 60 months for food stored at 50F to only 1 month when storage temperature was 120F.

Heat is actually just one of the enemies of food storage.

At the end of the day, these are all clues that pretty much suggest we shouldn’t store food inside our attics if they get hot.

What kinds of stockpile supplies do you currently have stored in your attic? If you aren’t using your attic for storage, what other storage areas do you use in your home? Do you have any storage tips or tricks that have worked well for you lately? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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updated 10/07/2019

2 thoughts on “What You Can and Cannot Store in a Hot Attic”

  1. Margaret Irene Moon

    I am 76 and a widow. I know it’s coming, so I want to be prepared. My house is only 4 rooms and still has a chimney to handle a wood stove. I am able to swing an ax and sew my own clothes (,I JUST NEED A TREDDLE MACHINE) so I have a head start on others. My entire yard is a vegetable garden and I can the food. I just don’t have much storage space so I am using my attic for whatever possible. any ideas?

  2. Heat will make food go bad. So unless you have air-condition and attic fans with back-ups for your back-ups. No food in the attic. Finding ways to keep your attic cool will save on your utility bill…….items in the attic need to be stored wisely, plastic tubes.
    Toilet paper etc. NO CARDBORAD. FIRES LIKE THAT.

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