11 Items You Can’t Put in a Storage Unit

Self-storage is a great solution when you’re moving, remodeling, or just otherwise in need of a place to put some of your stuff. And while there are a lot of things that you can safely put into storage, there are also items that you can’t put in a storage unit—and it’s important to know what they are so that you can make alternate plans.

Storage companies like CubeSmart, Public Storage, and Extra Space Storage all have their own rules, regulations, and policies that you’ll need to adhere to, though some things are pretty standard. This includes general items you can’t put in a storage unit either for safety reasons or for legal reasons. Other items may be banned for reasons that aren’t so clear cut but that still prohibit you from bringing them in.

In either case, if you’re planning on renting a storage unit, make sure that you’re familiar with what you can and can’t store in it so that you don’t face any inconvenient surprises later on. Most of these probably won’t surprise you, but here are the 11 things that you can’t put in a storage unit, plus a look at the long list of things that you can.

What you can’t put in a storage unit

All storage companies have their own rules, and that includes guidelines on prohibited items. In general though, here are the 11 items you likely can’t put in a storage unit, regardless of who you’re renting from:

  • Food
  • Hazardous materials
  • Stolen and illegal goods
  • Weapons and ammunition
  • Living items (and dead ones)
  • Wet items
  • Priceless and irreplaceable items
  • Money
  • Furs
  • Tires
  • Unregistered or uninsured vehicles

Here’s what to know about each of the items on this list, including the reasoning behind why they’re considered self-storage no-gos.


Perishable food items are magnets for attracting pests, mold, and mildew, and even in a climate-controlled unit they’re not going to stay fresh for very long. Even shelf stable items can be tricky, since some may bring in rodents and bugs while others, like canned foods, are at risk of combustion.

Always assume that perishable items aren’t allowed in your storage unit, and if you have a question about storing a non-perishable item, ask the storage company to find out what their policies are and what they recommend. You may be able to store certain shelf stable food items if they’re kept in tightly sealed containers, but it’s best to know ahead of time.

Hazardous materials

If an item is toxic, flammable, or combustible, then you’re not going to be able to keep it in a storage unit. This includes:

  • Paint
  • Paint thinner
  • Fertilizer
  • Fireworks
  • Oil
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Acid
  • Acetone
  • Propane tanks
  • Compressed gas
  • Kerosene
  • Gasoline
  • Grease
  • Turpentine
  • Radioactive materials

Even some household cleaners may fall on this list if they’re particularly toxic or dangerous.

Moving companies won’t take these items either, so if you’re relocating, make sure to properly dispose of hazardous items on your own ahead of moving day.

Stolen and illegal goods

If you’re in possession of stolen property or illegal goods, you’re not going to have any luck keeping it in your storage unit. Not only are self-storage facilities well-monitored, but their employees are also liable to call the police if they suspect that there’s something suspicious going on.

Weapons and ammunition

Firearms, ammunition, and other weaponry—think hand grenades, flame throwers, and anything else you wouldn’t want going off accidentally—are almost always on the list of items you can’t put in a storage unit. That’s because there are a lot of liability issues involved on the part of the facility, plus the obvious safety issues. It can also create a number of issues for the facility if your unit goes up for auction.

Living and dead items

It probably goes without saying that, alive or dead, people and animals cannot be kept in storage units. This rule also extends to other living or dead things, including plants, flowers, and human ashes.

Wet items

You can store items that are intended to get wet (kayaks, surfboards, scuba gear, and so on), but they’re going to need to be dry before you shut the door. That’s because wet items tend to grow mold and mildew in dark, closed-off spaces, which is exactly what your storage unit is. Aside from being gross to come back to later on, this will also potentially ruin your stuff, so it’s worth taking the time to ensure that all of your belongings are fully dry before you stick them into storage.

Priceless and irreplaceable items

If you can’t live without it, it shouldn’t go in your storage unit—period. While it’s not a matter of safety or liability, there are always some risks taken when you put an item in storage, including the possibility that you’ll face some sort of hardship later on that will lead to your belongings being sold at auction. Likewise, while it’s very unlikely, unfortunate events could also take place on the premises that destroy your items, such as a fire, flooding, or robbery.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to all antiques and valuables, many of which storage companies actually encourage you to store. But if it’s truly irreplaceable to you, you’re better off keeping it nearby.


If you have cash or other types of currency to store, opt for a bank deposit box instead of stashing it away in a self-storage unit. This is for the same reasons as above, as well as the fact that you’ll simply have more protection for these items in a bank than you would through a storage facility.


Fur clothing requires very specific climate conditions in order to be properly preserved, including strict requirements around temperature and light. As such, many storage companies put furs on the list of items you can’t put in a storage unit. If you need to store fur, look for a specialty storage provider instead, since they can ensure that the right conditions will be met.


Tires often find themselves on the banned list of storage items, and for two goods reasons: one, tire fires are no joke, and two, if the storage company gets stuck dealing with left behind tires they face steep disposal fees.

That being said, you can keep the four tires on a vehicle that you’re storing, but no more than that.

Unregistered or uninsured vehicles

Speaking of vehicle storage, most companies are glad to do it—with some caveats. Notably, whether it’s a car, a boat, an RV, or any other type of vehicle, it needs to be properly registered and insured before you can leave it behind. You may be asked to provide proof of registration and insurance, so ask the company you’re renting from to find out what’s expected of you.

What can you store in a storage unit?

The good news is that the list of items you can’t put in a storage unit is a whole lot shorter than the list of items that you can. While some of these items may need a climate-controlled unit, here’s a quick list of what you can safely store:

  • Artwork
  • Antiques and collectibles
  • Appliances
  • Books
  • Home décor
  • Furniture
  • Mattresses
  • Wine
  • Clothing
  • Sports equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Vehicles
  • Photographs
  • Electronics

If you’re ever unsure about whether or not you can store an item, reach out to your storage provider directly and ask. It’s always better to get a heads up in advance so that you’re not left scrambling later on.

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