Lots of people “store” things on the floor. Is this a good idea? Well, that depends.
Let’s begin by admitting that items end up on the floor for some good reasons. The floor is convenient (it is right beneath our feet), it is easy to reach (just drop whatever is in your hand), it is large (it holds a lot), it is strong (no wall anchors required), and it is flat (perfect for things that are prone to rolling around).
That said, the floor is often not the best choice for storage because:
The floor tends to be dirty.
Dirt, snow, water, etc. get on the floor from our shoes and soiled bags, and gravity pulls dust and dirt from the whole house downward until it stops at the floor. Unclean environments are attractive to bugs and rodents, which can compound the situation.
The floor is vulnerable to damage.
All you have to do is look at a flood scene to know that its very nature makes it vulnerable to water damage. A leaky roof, a hurricane, or a broken toilet can all wipe out items stored on the floor. Pieces stored on the floor are also susceptible to damage from pets, for whom floor items are prime pickings.
The floor is largely “out of sight.”
How often do you get down on the floor and consider what you’ve put there? It is easy to lose track of things that we don’t see, and the floor is not a place we regularly look. Furthermore, because we add to piles from the top, anything stored on the floor is liable to be covered up by something else, making it even easier to forget.
The floor is within easy reach of children.
While adults don’t spend much time on the floor, young children live there. Anything openly stashed on the floor could pose a safety/chocking risk to a curious toddler.
So what do we conclude? Should we never put anything on the floor? No, not exactly. Instead, we need to be choosey about when and how we utilize floor storage.
Some items actually fare well when stored on the floor, including:
- Cars, scooters, ATVs, and vehicles
- Lawn mowers and other heavy power tools
- Bicycles (in season)
- Exercise machines (e.g. treadmill, rowing machines, Peloton, etc.)
- Dirty things (e.g. boots on a tray)
- Wide, flat things to slide under a bed (e.g. table leaves)
- Heavy things (e.g. containers of rock salt)
- Vacuum cleaners
- Large containers (too big for a shelf, like giant bag of pet food)
- Large children’s play structures and toys
Meanwhile, the majority of our remaining possessions (clothing, paperwork, office supplies, books, photos, etc.) are better stored up off of the floor. The general rule of thumb is, do not store on the floor any items that can fit on a drawer, shelf, hanger, or hook.
Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “That’s all well and good, but I don’t have anywhere else to put my things.” If this is your situation, I would suggest that you first try to pare down your belongings. Statistics show that most of us keep much more than we use, need and love, and less is always easier to store than more. The next step is to add structure wherever you can to improve your storage situation.
Here are a few options for improving storage for items that currently live on the floor.
1. Add Height
Sometimes an easy first step is to simply elevate existing storage a few inches off of the floor. Something like a waterproof pallet or some casters might save the day in an unlikely weather event.
2. Add Containers
Since loose items are most vulnerable to damage, a simple first step is to add containers. For example, if your laundry piles up in the corner, get a few pop-up bins. If reading material is stacked next to a chair, get a basket to hold them. Wherever your floor is vulnerable to water damage (especially basements, crawl spaces and garages), invest in plastic storage totes.
3. Add Furniture
Sometimes we have items on the floor because we don’t have enough furniture. For instance, your papers may be stacked in folders because you don’t have a file cabinet or file box. Maybe the playroom needs some cubbies, or perhaps your bedroom needs a bookshelf. Of course, this is an area to proceed with caution. We don’t want to overfill a room with furniture (or bins) when what we should be doing is de-cluttering.
4. Use Your Vertical Surfaces
Never underestimate the power of a well-placed hook or rack. The back of a door can be a beautiful place to easily improve your storage situation. Many closets can be significantly improved by the additional of extra shelves, rods or bins. A row of hooks along an empty wall can provide simple, cost-effective options that are easy (and therefore likely to be) used.
Need a little inspiration? Here are a few ideas that might get you going. Remember, the goal isn’t to break the bank. There are structure options for all price points, so work within a budget, prioritizing the protection of belongings, children and pets first.
(can be customized with a variety of bins, risers and add-in drawers)
Come in different sizes and materials, consider your budget
Come with a wide variety of options that work in many rooms
Affordable, easy to assemble, work well in garages, basements, and attics
Quick and easy way to get things up off the floor
Endless variety, from functional to decorative, adhesive, anchored to over-the-door
Great way to take advantage of overhead storage, especially in a place like a garage.
Rigid ones like this one are great for food storage
Either buy containers with them, or possibly add them to existing bins
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What are you currently storing on the floor that might be better stored elsewhere?