Ah, the joys of having a below-ground level to your home. Finished or unfinished, a basement is a great addition to any home. Along with the many finished options, you can use your basement for short term and (in my family’s case) long term storage.

Some basements are prone to flooding, moisture-related mold or even an insect or two. Having these issues may force you to not put your valuables in the basement. Here are some ideas on what to store and not store in your basement.

What not to store in a basement

Electronics: Stashing gadgets in a basement might seem like an ideal way to put these items out of sight and out of mind. However, if your basement is not moisture-free this might be a bad idea. If your basement is finished, make sure these electronics are off the ground and are located in a moisture-free space.

Artwork: Still figuring out what to do with that painting you purchased on a whim? Don’t leave it in an unfinished basement. Humidity and poor ventilation will damage delicate paintings, photographs, and other items.

Flammables: Many DIY materials such as paint and other home supplies – think spray paint or extra propane tanks – pose a fire risk, particularly if adjacent to gas-powered appliances like a furnace or water heater. Follow manufacturer recommendations for storage.

Books and documents: Poor ventilation and humidity can wreak havoc on anything with a paper component. Store books and papers above ground unless your basement is finished and not subject to climate variations. Store hard-to-replace documents such as birth certificates and social security cards higher than the basement in a locked firebox.

Tip: If you must store moisture-sensitive items in the basement, consider using an airtight plastic container.

How to store things in a basement

If your basement is unfinished: Install shelving units to keep items off the floor.

Clothes: Keep extra or seasonal clothing in sealed containers off the basement floor, if possible.

Furniture: Place foldable items stacked neatly against a wall so they’re accessible but retrievable. Any fabric or foam pieces, such as cushions, should be cleaned and stored off the basement floor.

Bulk household and kitchen supplies: Large quantities of necessities, including toilet paper, paper towels, disposable dishes, and any other household items, should be stored on shelving off the ground. That way, even if your basement floor does get damp, it won’t damage these items.

Non-perishable food: As with bulk household supplies, stash the extras on shelves off the basement floor.

Outdoor accessories: The basement is a good spot for yard accessories or other gardening supplies.

If your basement gets damp: Consider purchasing a dehumidifier or invest in mold-proof storage containers to store anything that might attract moisture, including books and clothing.

Tip: Keep a small donation bin in the basement to collect items such as old toys, clothes, and blankets that can be donated or repurposed. When the bin is full, take it to a donation drop-off point.