Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
All preppers have that moment where they feel completely overwhelmed by all the survival items they want to buy. If you’re feeling this way, just relax, list the items in order of importance, and focus on one thing at a time. You’ll get there.
You should also consider the possibility that you already have many of the things you need. For example, instead of buying N95 masks (something you’re not likely to need, anyway), you could plan on using the cups from a bra. Well, at least until you’ve already bought more important things like food and medical supplies.
The point is, if money is tight and you don’t have many supplies yet, be sure to start out by only buying things for which there is no substitute at home. To help you figure this out, here is a list of survival items you probably already own.
1. Alcohol – Use it as a barter item, antiseptic agent, fire starter, fuel source, or a pain reliever. Here are some more uses.
2. Aluminum Foil – Definitely one of the most versatile items there is. In this article I list 33 uses for aluminum foil.
3. Baking Soda – Most people put a box in their fridge and never touch it again. That’s a shame because it’s a cheap way to keep your home clean and deodorized.
4. Bandana – You would be amazed how much you can do with a simple bandana. If you have one in your dresser or closet, learn how to use it.
5. Bleach – Use it to disinfect surfaces or to purify water (just be sure to use regular unscented bleach).
6. Books – I hate the idea of destroying a book, but if you’re desperate and you don’t have any other type of tinder or toilet paper, pages from a book might work.
7. Bras – As I mentioned in the intro, if you don’t have any N95 masks, you could use a bra to make two face masks. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.
8. Buckets – This article is mostly about uses for five-gallon buckets, but many of them also apply to ordinary buckets and pails.
9. Cell Phone – Yup. Your cell phone is also a great survival tool with several uses. Don’t believe me? Read this article.
10. Chap Stick – A very handy item that can be used as a candle, fire starter, lubricator, and skin protector, among other things.
11. Chips – If there are no other options, you can use chips to start a fire. They burn very easily because of all the fat in them.
12. Coffee Filters – The most obvious usage is pre-filtering water, but there are 35 other uses for coffee filters most people don’t know about.
13. Coffee Grounds – Once you’ve made your coffee, don’t throw away the grounds. They’re great for compost, fertilizer, repelling pests, and much more.
14. Cotton Balls – An important item for your first aid kit, obviously. But you can also saturate them with Vaseline to make a great fire starter.
15. Condoms – Laugh all you want, but it’s true–condoms have multiple uses in a survival situation. They can hold water, keep things dry, help start a fire, and even be used to make a slingshot.
16. Crayons – These make great emergency candles. Heat the bottom over a flame so it will stick to a plate and stay upright, then light the top. Once it gets going, it will burn for 15-30 minutes.
17. Dryer Lint – I already mentioned this in another post, but it’s worth mentioning again: dryer lint makes great tinder.
18. Duct Tape – Another incredibly versatile item. Duct tape can fix all sorts of things and might even save your life one day (hey, you never know).
19. Flashlight – Almost everyone already owns a flashlight. However, flashlights can’t light up a room. To solve this, use a gallon jug of water to make a lamp. Here’s how.
20. Floss – You’re not using it on your teeth, anyway (you know who you are), so use it for survival. It can be a fishing line, a small game snare, a clothesline, a trip wire, and more.
21. Frisbee – You can use a frisbee as a fan, a paddle, a plate, a shovel, or even a water collection tool. Here are some other suggestions.
22. Gum – That’s right. Even your chewing gum can be useful in a SHTF situation. This article explains why. And here’s how to start a fire with a gum wrapper.
23. Hand Sanitizer – Sanitation is very important, but you can also use hand sanitizer to start a fire. Squirt some onto your kindling and a single spark will get it going.
24. Knives – If you have a steak knife, then you already have a tool that can be used for self defense, first aid, making tools, adjusting gear, building fires, constructing shelters, and more.
25. Mirrors – If you have a handheld mirror or a compact, you can use it to signal for rescue or to reflect sunlight and start a fire.
26. Pantyhose – Everyone seems surprised when I mention this one. Pantyhose is so versatile that if you don’t already own a pair, you should get some. Here’s why.
27. Paper Clips – These can be used to open locks, to fix gadgets, as a worm hook, as a finger splint, as a needle for sewing, and more.
28. Pencils – If you have a number two pencil and a pencil sharpener, you can make shavings that are great for starting fires.
29. Prescription Bottles – If you have any leftover pill bottles, turn them into mini survival, first aid, and sewing kits. Here are some more suggestions.
30. Ponchos – This article lists 42 uses for ponchos. Most of the uses are for military ponchos, but many would also apply to ordinary rain ponchos.
31. Safety Pins – These are very handy. Use them as fishing hooks, to fix clothes, make a sling, secure bandages, or as part of your shelter.
32. Salt – It does a lot more than make your food taste better. It’s also useful for cleaning, deodorizing, and preserving food, among other things.
33. Shoe Laces – Use them as a fishing line, to tie sticks to together when building a shelter, to start a fire (bow-and-drill method), to set traps, etc.
34. Shower Curtain – Use it to make an emergency shelter, patch a leaky roof, make cordage, and stay dry in the rain. But that’s just the beginning. Here’s a great discussion about this.
35. Soap – There are also sorts of interesting uses for soap such as dealing with pests, deodorizing clothes, lubricating tools, and even detecting gas leaks.
36. Socks – Pre-filter water, tie them together to make a rope, use them to construct a shelter, or rub off as much fuzz as possible and use it as tinder.
37. Soda Cans – Don’t throw these away! They can be candle holders, fire starters, fishing lures, penny stoves, scoops, and rescue mirrors.
38. Super Glue – Use this for medical treatment, fixing things, and even making weapons. Here are more details.
39. Tampons – You probably think they can be used to stop bleeding, but that’s a dangerous myth. However, the material makes good tinder and the string could be used as a wick.
40. Tin Cans – Once you’re done with the food, use the cans as cooking pots, candle lamps, or string them together and hang them up for a cheap alarm. Here are some other ideas.
41. Toilet Paper – Not just for wipe where the sun doesn’t shine. TP can be used for tinder or it can be twisted into wicks for homemade candles.
42. Towels – You can turn your towels into into bandages, diapers, kindling, rope, slings, tourniquets, or any number of things. The possibilities are endless.
43. Trash Bags – One of my most popular articles is about all the different things you can do with trash bags. Read it here.
44. Two-Liter Bottles – Another useful item that you shouldn’t throw away is 2-liter soda bottles. Here are 22 ways to use them.
45. Umbrella – It keeps you dry which is important if you’re bugging out, but you could also turn it upside down and use it to collect rainwater.
46. Vinegar – Great for cleaning, deodorizing, disinfecting, removing grease, soothing sore throats, unclogging drains, and several other things.
47. WD-40 – You’re not just using this one squeaky door hinges, are you? There are many other things you can do with WD-40.
48. Wire Coat Hangers – The kind of wire used for coat hangers has many applications. Here’s a video about 20 things you can do with it.
49. Vaseline – It’s a fire starter, it prevents rust, it keeps bugs away, and it has many different first aid uses. Here’s some more info.
50. Ziploc Bags – The main advantage of these is keeping things dry–cash, electronics, food, lighters, matches, meds, tinder, toilet paper, etc.