Winter storage is tricky because there are so many items that need to be put away and most people are somewhat limited on space. You’ll also need to factor in what special care might be necessary for mechanical items like cars and lawnmowers to make it through the winter.
We’ve created a quick how-to guide for storing some common summer items that will help you know what to do regardless of what you need to store.
No matter what you’re storing this winter, follow these next steps. When storing more specific items like grills and lawnmowers that require special care, keep scrolling for our recommendations.
1. Decide What’s Worth Keeping
As you take inventory of the items you’d like to store, first decide what’s worth keeping and what should be donated or tossed. If an item is broken, torn, cracked, or hopelessly rusted, throw it away. If it’s just dirty, faded, or a little rusty, decide whether you want to invest the time to clean it, paint it, or reupholster it. Donate it if the answer is no, and add it to your list to store if the answer is yes.
2. Clean Everything Thoroughly
The easiest way to avoid degradation and damage of items in winter storage? Always take extra care to thoroughly clean each item and store it correctly.
3. Figure Out Where You’ll Store Your Items
Sometimes summer items can be stored in your garage for the winter. However, if you need to make room for your cars and snowblower, renting a storage unit temporarily might be your best option.
Winter Storage Tip: If you are going to be storing your items off-site, save yourself some time by loading your summer stuff onto a utility trailer. You can tow and roll the trailer right into your storage unit, and haul it right back out when the seasons change.
4. Make Sure to Protect Belongings
So long as they’re covered properly, some items can be left outside. However, even if you’re storing indoors, make sure to utilize furniture covers and blankets to keep things dust-free and protect them from dents, dings and tears. When necessary, opt for climate controlled storage to protect from the elements.
Packing Tip: Stow your stuff in proper order, starting with heavy pieces on the bottom and stacking lighter things on top, with furniture blankets in between for extra protection.
How to Store Outdoor Furniture and Supplies in the Winter
Want some more specific advice? Click on some everyday household items that might require winter storage to find out more:
You may not be looking forward to shoveling all of that snow, but at least you can say goodbye to mowing the lawn for a while! If you’re lucky and have a snowblower, make room for it by getting your lawn mower into storage.
Here’s how to store a lawn mower properly to ensure it’s ready to go this spring.
- Remove the spark plug.
- Drain the fuel tank when prepping your mower for winter. Gas that’s left in the tank for too long breaks down and won’t make good fuel next spring. This old fuel could potentially do damage to your machine. Another way to avoid this is to add fuel stabilizer to the tank.
- Give your mower a good cleaning. Get grass out from underneath (which will also help keep your storage area clean), and top off the oil before storing it in a moisture-free location.
Remember, no flammable liquids are allowed in a storage unit.
You might be tempted to skip the draining fuel step and opt for fuel stabilizer. However, if you’re putting your lawn mower in self-storage, that’s a big no-no. Fuel and oil should be emptied before taking your mower to a storage facility.
If you keep your mower at home, fold over the handle on a stationary mower and temporarily remove the guard. If you want to get creative, look into pullies, wall mounts, cable lift platforms and portable storage containers.
Unless you live in the southern states, your days enjoying al fresco while grilling and chilling are numbered. And if you live somewhere that gets legitimately cold in the winter — snow, ice, the whole nine yards — there’s no excuse for allowing your gas grill to face the elements.
Here’s how to store your grill in the offseason:
- Clean thoroughly to remove grease and food scraps. If you’re having trouble getting all the grease, blast your grill on high heat for about 15 minutes. Let it cool, and then scrape it with a soft bristle brush or a crumpled wad of aluminum foil.
- Shut off the gas at the tank, and unfasten the burner. Take the gas tubes off the lines, and lift out the entire burner unit. Reference the owner’s manual for help doing this correctly.
- Coat clean burners and metal parts with cooking oil to repel moisture and prevent rust.
- Wrap the burner unit in a plastic bag to discourage spiders and insects from taking up residence in the tubes.
- If you’re leaving the grill outdoors, keep the tank connected but shut off and cover everything with a protective cover.
- If you’re bringing your grill inside or moving it to a self-storage unit, leave the propane tank outside in an upright position away from potential heat sources. Self-storage facilities do not accept propane tanks on the premises.
Shovels, spades, hoses, rakes, flower pots, tillers, watering cans — do you want these items cluttering up your basement or garage all winter? If you’re not going to garden for a few months, you may want to put these tools into winter storage, too.
A thorough cleaning is in order for these tools. Also, consider applying a protective coating to surfaces, sanding wooden handles and sharpening metal edges to keep your gear in top shape for next year.
When packing away your gardening tools at home, don’t forget to take advantage of your walls as a storage solution. Use hooks for hoses and long-handled tools. You can also get crafty and use a pallet. Place a pallet against any wall to create a makeshift rack. And if you’re sending your gardening tools to self-storage, a pallet can be equally helpful for organizing your space.
There are dozens of elegant bicycle storage hacks. Custom-made bike shelves, cleverly-rigged tarps, wall mounts and hooks are common bike storage ideas.
However, storing bikes offsite is another considerable space saver in the offseason. If you are putting your bike into storage, we recommend that you keep the tires inflated, but keep weight off of them by hanging the bike or resting it upside down on its seat. Taking this step will deter damage to the tire rims from the weight of the bike pressing on slowly deflating tires.
Lubricating the cables and storing your bike in a dry, temperature-controlled space are your best bets against rust. For this reason, if storing a bike in self-storage, be sure the storage unit is climate controlled.
The real key to winterizing patio furniture is a good cleaning. Properly cleaning and storing pillows, chairs and furniture will help you avoid mold and mildew problems.
- For aluminum, vinyl and plastic furniture, use hot water, soap and a sponge. Easy enough.
- For wicker and wood, never use soap — use water and a little oil soap. After drying, finish with furniture-grade paste wax.
- If your metal furniture is beginning to rust, prevent further damage by getting rid of as much of the rust as you can. Scrub with a wire brush, and then apply a coat of paste wax. You can also use a silicone sealant spray on metal pieces.
- For canvas, grab some upholstery cleaner and get scrubbing.
Once everything is clean, dry and prepped, it’s time to decide where to put it. If you have no other option, you can leave everything outdoors, but do consider investing in fitted covers and water-tight storage lockers for cushions. Tie the covers onto the furniture to keep it in place when winter winds blow.
Do you have an area of your basement or garage where softball bats, baseball gloves, soccer balls, basketballs, jump ropes, athletic spikes, swim fins and various other accouterments have been unceremoniously dumped? Now’s the time of year to go through those items and decide what needs to be cluttering up your home, and what can be stowed away.
You may need summer sports equipment over the cold months — a football for a tailgate party, for instance. But items like baseball or softball bats, gloves and spikes, tennis rackets, basketballs, badminton sets and pool gear will likely go untouched. Storage units are always an option, but, unlike patio furniture, some of your sports gear may be able to fit efficiently into your home.
If you’re limited on storage space, set up high shelves for storage bins or use a pegboard that accommodates several sizes of hooks. Or you can make the most of the area behind the closet door. Over-the-door racks create designated places for items, keeping them out of the way, and at the same time, easily located. That way, your sports equipment is safely stored, and your garage floor is clear of clutter.
Since all sporting equipment is different when it comes to material, it’s a good idea to check in with the brand on their specific storage recommendations.
For example, some sports equipment experts will tell you the following advice:
- Keep your lumber in an environment 60 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
- Get the laces tightened and the leather treated on your lucky mitt.
- Place a ball in the pocket before consigning it in winter storage.
- Clean your spikes thoroughly before treating them with a leather agent and storing them in a breathable, moisture-free bag for winter storage.
This post originally appeared on the Life Storage blog on 10/1/13 and was revised on 12/11/18 to provide new information.