15 Items You Can’t Store in Self-Storage Units

15 Items You Can’t Store in Self-Storage Units

Self-storage units are incredibly convenient for storing away extra belongings, seasonal items, business tools and merchandise or items you just don’t have room for at home. However, not everything can be stored in these facilities.

Some things aren’t allowed in storage units for safety, legal, or ethical reasons. Here we list 16 items you can’t keep in your unit and explain why.

1. Perishable Food Items

While it might seem like a good idea to store excess canned goods or bulk purchases, perishable food items are not allowed in self-storage units. These can attract pests, create unpleasant odours, and potentially contaminate other units. Even canned goods can eventually spoil, leak, or explode, causing damage to your other belongings and neighbouring units.

2. Live Animals or Plants

This should go without saying, but living creatures have no place in a storage unit. It’s inhumane and illegal to keep animals in such conditions. Similarly, plants won’t survive without proper light and care. Plus, both can introduce pests or mould into the facility, causing problems for other renters.

3. Hazardous Materials

Any substances classified as hazardous are strictly prohibited. This includes flammable liquids like gasoline or kerosene, corrosive materials, explosives, and toxic chemicals. These pose significant safety risks not only to your belongings but to the entire facility and its occupants.

4. Illegal Substances or Items

Anything illegal cannot be stored in a self-storage unit. This includes illegal drugs, stolen property, and unlicensed firearms. Using a storage unit for illegal activities can result in serious legal consequences and immediate termination of your rental agreement.

5. Combustible or Flammable Items

Items that can easily catch fire or explode are not allowed. This category includes propane tanks, fireworks, and certain types of batteries. The potential for accidental ignition poses too great a risk to the safety of the facility and other renters’ property.

6. Weapons and Ammunition

We strictly prohibit the storage of firearms, ammunition, and other weapons. Even if you have the proper licenses, the liability and safety concerns typically outweigh any potential benefits of storing these items.

7. Cash and Valuable Securities

It’s never a good idea to store large amounts of cash or important financial documents in a storage unit. These items are not typically covered by insurance policies and are at risk of theft.

8. Unregistered or Non-Operational Vehicles

All stored vehicles should be registered, insured, and in working condition. We don’t allow abandoned or non-functional vehicles can leak fluids, attract pests, and become safety hazards.

9. Wet Items or Those Prone to Mildew

Anything damp or likely to develop mould or mildew should not be placed in storage. This includes wet clothing, soggy cardboard boxes, or items that haven’t been properly dried. Mould can spread quickly in enclosed spaces, damaging your belongings and those in nearby units.

10. Radioactive Materials

While it’s unlikely that the average person would have access to radioactive materials, it’s worth mentioning that these are absolutely forbidden in self-storage units. The potential health and environmental risks are far too severe.

11. Compressed Gases

Items like scuba tanks, propane cylinders, or fire extinguishers contain compressed gases that can be dangerous if not properly handled or stored. Temperature fluctuations in storage units can cause these containers to expand or contract, potentially leading to leaks or explosions.

12. Medical Waste or Biological Samples

Any form of medical waste, including used needles, expired medications, or biological samples, is strictly prohibited. These items require specialised disposal methods and can pose serious health risks if not handled properly.

13. Counterfeit Goods

Storing counterfeit merchandise is illegal and can result in serious legal consequences. Storage facilities do not want to be implicated in any way with the distribution or storage of fake goods, so these items are universally banned.

14. Irreplaceable Items or Family Heirlooms

While not explicitly prohibited, it’s strongly advised against storing irreplaceable items or precious family heirlooms in a self-storage unit. Despite security measures, there’s always a risk of theft, and damage from natural disasters, or accidents. 

15. Temperature-Sensitive Electronics

Many electronic devices, especially those with lithium-ion batteries, are sensitive to extreme temperatures. Devices like laptops, smartphones, or high-end audio equipment can suffer permanent damage or reduced lifespan when subjected to temperature extremes. Additionally, the lack of use while in storage can lead to battery degradation. 

Common Questions About Self-Storage Restrictions

While we’ve covered the main items you can’t store in a self-storage unit, you might still have some questions. Let’s address some common concerns:

Are there any exceptions to these rules?

Generally, no. These restrictions are in place for safety, legal, and ethical reasons. However, we may be able to offer specialised storage options for certain items. Contact our team to discuss any specific requests.

What happens if prohibited items are found in my unit?

If prohibited items are discovered in your unit, you may receive a warning and be asked to remove the items immediately. In more serious cases, your contract could be terminated, you might lose access to your unit, or face legal repercussions, especially if the items are illegal or hazardous.

Can I store food in a storage unit if it’s well-packaged?

Even well-packaged food items are generally not allowed. The risks of attracting pests or creating odours are too high. However, we might allow certain non-perishable items if they’re sealed in airtight containers. Our facility manager will be happy to advise you before storing any food items.

Are there alternatives for storing prohibited items?

For many prohibited items, there are specialised storage solutions available:

  • Hazardous materials: Look for specialised disposal or storage facilities.
  • Vehicles: If your vehicle isn’t operational, consider a dedicated vehicle storage facility or a mechanic’s garage.

How can I be sure I’m complying with all storage regulations?


  1. Please read your rental agreement carefully.
  2. Ask our facility manager if you’re unsure about any items.
  3. Make an inventory of what you plan to store and review it against the facility’s guidelines.
  4. Stay informed about any changes to the facility’s policies.

Remember, these rules are in place not just for the safety of your belongings, but for the entire storage facility and its users. By following these guidelines, you contribute to a safer storage environment for everyone.

Violating these rules can lead to a variety of consequences, from the termination of your rental agreement to legal action in more severe cases. Always carefully read your rental agreement and ask the facility management if you’re unsure about any items you wish to store.

When in doubt, it’s always best to be on the side of caution and consult with us. At Hills Self Storage, we can guide you on what’s allowed and what’s not, ensuring that you use your storage unit safely and legally.

Contact us today to find out more about our self-storage solutions in Colchester, Essex.

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