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5 ways to prevent pests in storage units

For homeowners, the attic is a place to keep unused items out of sight and out of mind. For many insects, however, the attic offers an all-you-can-eat buffet. Holiday decorations, family records, old books, off-season clothes and other items in long-term storage provide an attractive food source for many common attic pests.


Silverfish, moths and carpet beetles all love to feast on organic matter and can leave holes in paper or fabric. Because these items are rarely pulled out and examined, the infestation often goes undetected until well after the damage has already been done.

Many pest control experts agree that preventive pest control is the best way to deal with attic pests, particularly when storing precious heirlooms or other irreplaceable items. The following are five pest management tips for preserving your stored items.

1. Use plastic storage containers with tight lids.

When it comes to home storage and preventive pest control, a less natural storage environment is better. Be it for your attic, storage unit, shed, basement or even a large closet, you want to maintain an environment that is unwelcoming to pests. Plastic storage bins and barrels provide the best protection, as they can’t be chewed through or torn open. Choose bins with tight-fitting lids, and keep them sealed while in storage. Replace any bins that have become cracked or broken.

Avoid cardboard boxes that are old or loose, and do not keep food, plants or plant materials in or near your storage containers, as these will attract insects.

Nicely organized blue and clear colored storage bins on shelving unit.

2. Keep it clean.

Keeping your storage area clean is another crucial preventive pest control practice. Not only do food bits and sticky spills attract ants and other insects, but dust, dirt residue and other organic material can also help storage pests thrive. Clean your storage area thoroughly before moving in. Sweep and mop where needed, and remove old cobwebs and dead insects. If you spot a few harmless spiders, so much the better – these will help keep pest populations down.

3. Maintain a cool, dry climate.

When it comes to preventive pest control, rain poses one of the biggest challenges for pest control professionals. Wet conditions outside will drive insects and critters inside, and any moisture that gets indoors provides a handy water source for pests.

To offset the problems posed by wet weather, patch up any leaks or cracks that might allow water to trickle through, and keep the climate in your attic or storage space cool and dry. Don’t keep it too cold, however, or it can become a haven for pests in the hotter summer months.

Professional repairman fix holes and cracks in walls.

4. Use preventive pest control products.

Pest repellents for silverfish, moths and other storage pests are widely available and fairly effective. For the health of your family and pets, it’s best to minimize use of chemical preventive pest control products. Instead, look for natural alternatives such as cedar blocks, scented soaps or even Diatomaceous earth (a natural ground material that only harms insects and microscopic bugs). Traps can also be effective deterrents, as long as you use them safely and carefully.

5. Check it out before you pull it out.

Pest control professionals often receive emergency calls from homeowners who have unknowingly brought down infested boxes from the attic, only to discover they’ve helped the pests spread into other areas of the home. To avoid this, inspect your boxes for evidence of pests before bringing them out of storage. Continue inspecting as you unpack the contents, and vacuum each item thoroughly to remove any pests or eggs.

By putting a little effort into preventive pest control for your home storage items, you can ward off most infestations before they happen. However, if the problem has become unmanageable or you’re not sure how to go about securing your storage space against pests consult a pest control service that specializes in preventive pest control or Integrated Pest Management. You’ll thank yourself later on, when you rummage through storage and find that family heirloom or Halloween costume still in pristine, pest-free condition.

Stacks of boxes inside a wooden attic.

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