7 things you should never store on your patio – or risk irreparable damage

These seven things should never be left outdoors, professional organizers warn

wayfair outdoor furniture / pool with cedar strip poolhouse and loungers / Prokan Outdoor Kitchen Desert Sunrise Grill Island with Fridge and Sink
(Image credit: Wayfair / Werner Straube Photography)

It is rare to encounter a patio or deck with nothing on it. Whether there is a smattering of yard furniture or a collection of summer sporting essentials, our patios are seemingly perfect places for an assortment of stuff we are not sure where else to store.

However, while it might seem like a logical space to store outdoor essentials, professional organizers are warning it is one of the worst spots if you want your items to last – and they could be welcoming pests onto your property.

As such, these are the seven things you should never store on a patio according to professional organizers, and why decluttering a backyard and storing them elsewhere can save you time and money.

Things you should never store on your patio

No matter if you are organizing a patio for summer or storing outdoor items for winter, these seven items should never be left outside. Here’s why.

1. Any soft outdoor furnishings

wayfair outdoor furniture

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Although most of the best outdoor furniture is designed and made with outdoor storage in mind, not every component is suited to be left on your patio – even with a rain cover on it. Namely. The soft furnishings and cushions, says Meaghan Kessman, professional home organizer:

‘Soft items like cushions and pillows can quickly get moldy if left out. I recommend storing these in a waterproof storage box or bringing them indoors when not in use. Keeping them in a dry place like a garage or storage closet will help them last longer, then use durable, weather-resistant covers for any garden furniture left outside.’

2. Candles

citronella candle

(Image credit: faithie / Alamy Stock Photo)

There are several reasons why you might want to use candles outside, from using citronella candles to repel mosquitos to creating a cozy ambiance for alfresco dining. Whether you have picked up outdoor candles or not, they should never be left outside, and for several reasons, says Barbara Brock, professional organizer, declutterer, and home stager, owner of Barabara Brock Inc. She explains that, even for candles formulated for outdoor use, rapidly changing weather can lead to your candles cracking, the scent deteriorating, and the wax breaking down prematurely. This not only shortens the lifespan of your candle but makes them less effective.

Instead, store them in your home away from sudden temperature fluctuations.

3. Garden Tools and Equipment

Garden tools and equipment in a raised bed containing vegetable and herbs

(Image credit: Getty Images/the_burtons)

If you are a busy or tired gardener, it can sometimes be tempting to leave your tools in situ so you can return to your tasks the next day. However, whether you have a shed or not, these tools should always be kept inside and off of your patio, suggests Meaghan Kessman, a professional home organizer.

‘Metal garden tools are prone to rust if left outside. Instead, store them in a garden shed or garage. If you're short on space, wall-mounted racks or shelving units are a great way to keep them organized and easy to reach,’ she recommends.

4. Outdoor chemicals

pool with cedar strip poolhouse and loungers

(Image credit: Werner Straube Photography)

While we prefer green cleaning to protect our health and the environment, some tasks rely on chemical mixes, such as cleaning a pool or dealing with stubborn or dangerous pests. These chemicals should never be left out on your patio, however, warns Rafi Friedman, president of Coastal Luxury Outdoors:

‘These items pose health and safety hazards to children and pets in particular, and can also be damaged by temperature extremes and exposure to sunlight,’ he explains. ‘Keep them in a garage, safe shed organization, or a basement.’

5. Outdoor Sports Gear

Whether you are a semi-pro sportsman or just like to have some fun in the yard, your outdoor sports equipment and toys should never be left on a patio, urges Meaghan Kessman, professional home organizer:

‘Bikes, skateboards, and other sports gear can suffer from weather exposure. I suggest storing them when organizing a garage, using hooks and wall mounts to keep them off the floor and in good shape.

‘Alternatively, invest in waterproof bins or deck boxes for smaller items. I recently used plastic outdoor deck boxes from Amazon in a project to manage the overflow of toys from inside the house. These boxes are weather-resistant and perfect for keeping kids' toys safe and accessible while maintaining a tidy patio. Regularly check and clean outdoor items to keep them in top condition.'

6. Charcoal

Prokan Outdoor Kitchen Desert Sunrise Grill Island with Fridge and Sink

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Whether you have fully fleshed out outdoor kitchen ideas, or a simple stand-alone BBQ on your patio, you should never keep your charcoal or other fuel out on your patio, warns Barbara Brock, professional organizer.

‘Charcoal will retain moisture and will not be good for future cooking,’ she explains. Not only will it ruin the quality, but it could result in bacteria or mold that could then contaminate your food. Instead, keep it stowed in clean storage in a shed, basement, or garage.

7. Pet food

Pet-friendly ground cover plants

(Image credit: rasevicdusan via Getty Images)

If you spend a lot of time out on your patio, leaving out a pet food bowl for your furry friends to snack while sitting outside with you can be a great way for them to enjoy the outdoors with the family. However, these should never be left out on your patio overnight, warns Brett Bennett, Director of Operations, PURCOR Pest Solutions:

‘Pet food of any kind is the big one I'd recommend not storing on a patio. I've seen lots of homeowners keep bags of dog or cat food out there, along with bowls of food they might be providing for strays or outdoor dogs/cats. While this can be convenient or a kind gesture, it can also be a huge pest attractant. Lots of animals like skunks, raccoons, mice, and even bugs like ants will see this as an opportunity, and it can quickly turn into a larger problem, especially with the proximity to your home.’

When organizing pet supplies, keep food in air-tight containers inside of your home, preferably out of basements and garages where humidity can affect the quality or pests can be drawn in if it is not sealed correctly between uses.

Not everything you keep on your patio will fit into your home when bad weather hits, which is why it is important to invest in high-quality backyard storage ideas – whether that is a small storage box for your patio or a larger storage shed for sports equipment and tools. The less you leave exposed to the elements, the better both for your belongings and your wallet.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.