Food Storage In The Basement


If you are storing your emergency food supply in the basement, or garage, or other such similar place, here are a few thoughts which might help you avoid some problems.

Bugs and insects tend to crawl along the edges of the floor and walls. Take a look and you might notice bug droppings ‘residue’ along the edges of the floor in some areas.

Knowing that many basement insects behave this way, it might be a good idea to NOT place any food storage directly up against a wall. Leave a gap of an inch or two.

Also, clean up those ‘droppings’. Get a bucket of water and your favorite detergent and use a rag to clean up the trail of bug crap. This trail acts as a scent trail and will only keep the super highway in action.

Having said that, sealed pails, bins with lids, and packaging which seal out the external environment, are going to be okay from insects and crawly critters (unless they were inside the containment to begin with), so it’s best to contain your long term food storage this way.

Foods stored up on shelves will be a little better off from easy pickins by the bugs – although some of them may still find their way there. The thing is though, if the food is properly sealed and contained, there will be no attraction for the insects – and no problem.

Be aware that the packaging of many foods is vastly inferior for long term storage (or storage in a basement environment). Consider re-packaging or using bins with covers to hold some foods which may be especially susceptible to infestation or moisture. While the lids of ordinary bins are not hermetically sealed (typically just a snug fit), they will help slow down any problems.

The typical basement maintains a somewhat steady temperature and is usually cooler than the rest of the house (good for food storage), But beware of excess humidity (bad for food storage). Basements are often somewhat damp. It makes sense to get yourself a humidity gauge and see what it is. 50% or less is good. 60% is marginal. Anything more and moisture will more readily find it’s way into porous packaging.

If you have chronic humidity in your basement, then get yourself a dehumidifier.

Look around for mouse turds. If you say ANY, then there’s a problem. Mice can chew there way into surprising places. This will become a very big problem for your valuable food storage. Get mouse traps. Look for any tiny gap where they may have come inside from outside. Seal it up.


Regularly check on your food storage. You have invested all this time and money into building up food storage for your preparedness, so don’t lose it to insects, mice, or humidity!

Once in awhile, exam it. All of it. Look behind boxes, pails, containers, bins, and look for signs of problems. If you see any, nip it in the bud, so to speak. Keep the basement environment clean.

Any further suggestions?


  1. We completed a project at Ft. Stewart a number of years ago that involved sealing a very wet basement in a barracks building using a product called Dry-Lock [or maybe it was spelled Dry-Lok, I can’t remember]. It was as I recall a pretty strong smelling, oil based product, but it was incredibly good at bonding to dodgy surfaces and damp concrete. The result was pretty unreal, with nearly 100 percent of the surfaces accepting the coating. We did have some bubbles appear in corners and around some walker duct openings on the floor, but we eventually got it fixed and accepted, and the basement remains dry to this day.

    Moisture is a preppers enemy.

  2. Ken,

    suggestion, if possible..

    I know from time to time you have posted various items/suppliers..

    but I am thinking, for me/us, would be interesting/useful, if you wouldn’t mind posting

    list of say your top 100 favorite/most useful/best priced/best lasting items,
    as xmas is coming up, might give a few ides for some of us.


  3. In lieu of mousetraps, I’ve had great luck with the electronic rodent deterrents that you plug into and outlet and emit a high frequency sound only rodents can hear. No more mice!

    1. Works until the power goes out. Then when you need it the most, mice get into your stuff.

  4. We’ve used the Dry Lock product as mentioned about and it does work for most areas, but not quite so well in the lowest wettest areas where it preferred to flake off over time despite proper application and a dehumidifier. Dry Lock is now a latex based product rather than the oil product mentioned and we all know how latex interacts with water.

    We brushed off all the flaking product and used the newest version, Dry Lock Extreme and it seems to be holding up. But if you have steady, heavy wetness in one spot, nothing will stop it. For Dry Lock to work properly, the area needs to be thoroughly dry (which can make application tricky for some basement walls).

    Also, if you plan to store winter veg in that room, do not store both onions and potatoes, nor apples with either, in the same room – they emit ‘gasses’ that encourage fast sprouting of the other.

    Canning jars need their rings removed to stop any rusting, and metal snap lids need regular checking as they can and will begin to rust over time in damp rooms. Tinned foods won’t last a year in a damp room.

    1. Thank you Gloria,

      Really helpfull. I was wondering about tin food,did not find much info on the Web until your post.

      Best Henna.

  5. if your basement walls look like the pic, you have far worse issues than molded preps. This home requires water management to a serious degree, a french drain system, sump driven if necessary. A dehumidifier would be the tail wagging the dog.
    Thy this exercise: Duct tape a 1’x2′ piece of plastic over one of the dark “veins” creeping up the wall. Wait one week. You’ll have a fascinating-and deadly-science project.
    Check your insurance policy, there’s probably already a mold exclusion because insurance companies know the property damage and health liability this poses.

    1. That’s not true at all. Old homes do have this type of issue and that’s where a sumpump comes in. Yes a dehumidifier helps but you there are several old farm homes with far worse granite slab foundations that are damp and it doesn’t at all mean the home is riddled with mold. I’m an insurance agent and am well versed in mold remediation so although you are correct in saying a French drain may help, if the water table is high in that area, there’s no fix and some simple measures can be taken to ensure the floor of your home isn’t being damaged by any damage in the old basement. This is mild compared to what I’ve seen.

      1. Mold in the basement…. No way to edit my comment. Speed typer problems

  6. Must be nice having an empty basement. You should kill the mold and apply a sealant.

    1. It is a random picture inserted from a web-search for a basement photo to go along with the article. The image does appear to indicate potential dampness. It also might be a fresh pour and install. Hard to tell for sure.

  7. “If you have chronic humidity in your basement, then get yourself a dehumidifier.”

    I walled in a 4’x16′ room that looked a lot like the photo at the top of this article before I added shelving. It stays cool (75%).

    I’d love to use a dehumidifier, but those things generate heat. How can I follow your advise and, long-term, bring down its humidity without raising the temperature too much?

    1. You bring up a good point (humidifiers generate some heat). My initial thought is to size the dehumidifier such that it’s not too big for the room (it’s capacity to withdraw water). That way, a smaller unit will generate less heat than otherwise. It will be a trade-off between potentially raising the room temp a few degrees versus the benefit of less humidity. If your room is high in humidity, I would trade off for a dryer room and sacrifice the few degrees of temperature increase… that’s my initial opinion ;)

  8. Make sure to use this important tip. One of the most vulnerable are large plastic water barrels. without a pallet underneath, moisture from the ground beneath wicks up and gradually destroys the barrels base and the pure stored water becomes undrinkable. avoid all that by using a pallet or 2x4s. I space the boards to allow some circulation from concrete floor and between barrels.

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