Keeping food in the garage: 4 reasons it isn't a great idea

Midwesterners everywhere are in for bad news: the garage shouldn’t be used to store food.

Whether it’s restaurant leftovers, canned food or a spare gallon of milk, it’s not safe to stash most foods on garage shelves, with a few exceptions. And we swear, we’re not just being fussy.

The First Issue: Climate

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Keeping food in the garage in the summer is a bad idea. The garage is probably hot and damp, which is the prime condition for spoilage of all foods.

But what about the winter, especially in cold climates? The main concern is temperature stability. Assume an uninsulated garage will stay slightly warmer than the outside temperature, so on a very cold day, that might put your garage in the safe zone, between 35 and 38 degrees. If the temperature dips below freezing, the texture of foods such as milk or leftovers can get wonky. If the temperature gets above 40 degrees, that’s outside the safe range and food can spoil.

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Plus, the Pest Question

Another risk of keeping food in the garage: pests. Mice, rodents, roaches and insects will be attracted to food in the garage. No need to incentivize baddies nesting in there -- and if mice do happen to move in, learn how to get rid of them.

What About Pantry Items?

In general, most pantry items, from canned foods to dry goods such as crackers or chips, should be stored in a cool, dry place. The garage doesn’t have the climate control of an insulated house, which means it’s damper during all seasons. That’ll make unopened pantry goods spoil quicker, and even canned goods can get rusty.

Pictured: Not a fridge, apparently.

Pictured: Not a fridge, apparently. (iStock)

The Exception

Canned beverages, such as soda, are generally safe to keep in the garage, though they may rust or explode. Note, too, that the quality of beer and wine can deteriorate in too-hot or too-cold temperatures.

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Need more tips for storing your surplus pantry items? Try these clever storage tricks to keep foods fresh.