Household Supplies Useful for Survival

If you’re just starting out on your prepper journey, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you think you need. The good news is that even if you live in a studio apartment in the middle of the city, odds are pretty good you already have some items on hand that will be useful in an emergency.


Garbage bags

These are incredibly useful. They work well as makeshift rain ponchos, of course, as anyone who’s been caught in a downpour at the county or state fair can attest. Naturally, they can be used to hold things, such as scrounged food found either in the wild or down at the already-been-looted Gas n Sip.

If you or a family member have an injury that absolutely must be kept dry, the plastic garbage bag can be cut into sections and wrapped around the wound. Don’t keep it on there forever, though, as most injuries benefit from some fresh air.

Black garbage bags will soak up heat. Fill one with water and keep it in the sun for a bit to heat water for bathing.

Tape bags over the inside of your windows to keep out prying eyes.

If the plumbing isn’t working right, line your toilet bowl with a trash bag. After a few uses, tie the bag closed and replace with a new one. Sprinkle baking soda or powdered laundry detergent after each use to help cut down on odors.


Hand sanitizer

If water is limited or nonexistent, use hand sanitizer after each visit to the bathroom. It can be very drying to the hands, though, so I suggest you keep some type of hand moisturizer nearby as well. Because it is alcohol based, it also makes for a pretty good fire starter. Just squeeze a bit where you’re building your fire and light it up.



Even non-smokers usually have some matches or lighters kicking around. How else do you light candles when you want to be romantic or celebrate a birthday? You’ll be able to use them to light your campfire or patio fire pit for cooking when the stove and microwave aren’t feasible options.



We typically keep this on hand to help with stain removal in the laundry. In an emergency, we’ll use it to disinfect water for drinking. This is a simple process. You need to start with clear water, though, so filter out any floating sediment and debris by pouring the water through a coffee filter, clean T-shirt, or other material. Then, add 2 drops for each quart or liter of water. If you have a gallon, that’s 4 quarts, which means 8 drops of bleach. After adding the bleach, wait 30 minutes for it to work.

It is important, though, that you check labels. Sodium hypochlorite is the active ingredient. Your bleach should contain 4-6% of this ingredient. If not, find one that does. Also, don’t use scented bleach or anything else fancy like that. You want just straight bleach.

If you don’t have an eyedropper and thus lack an easy way to measure drops, don’t panic. Take a square of toilet paper and roll it into a tube shape. Take the cap off the bleach bottle, turn it upside down, and put the toilet paper into it so one end of the tube overhangs the rim. Carefully pour a little bleach into the cap.



Just about every kitchen has a few knives in it. A survival knife is truly whatever knife you have available in a survival situation. While it’d be great if you had a sturdy fixed blade knife set aside for emergencies, a decent quality kitchen knife will do just about everything you’d need a knife for during a crisis. Personally, I don’t much care for serrated blades unless I’m cutting cordage. If you feel the same, make sure you have one or two kitchen knives that are non-serrated. You should also make sure you know how to sharpen those blades and have the requisite supplies on hand. A dull knife is far more dangerous to the user than a sharp one.


Dental floss

Flossing is an important part of dental hygiene, thus most of us have a package or two sitting in a bathroom drawer. In an emergency, there are many uses for cordage, such as lashing, repairing clothing, snares, even fishing. Dental floss is rather strong, despite how thin it is. While I wouldn’t want to put a lot of weight on it, floss will do the job in many situations.



Many of us use small plastic bags when packing our lunch every day. You do pack a lunch, right? As opposed to eating fast food or, even worse, risking a sandwich from the Wheel of Death in the break room. A packed lunch will likely be healthier and for darn sure it’ll be cheaper. Anyway, the point is, most of us have a box or two of plastic bags in a cabinet or drawer. I use these all the time for organizing supplies in survival kits. They’ll keep the contents nice and dry, even if the pack itself gets soaked. I like to have a variety of sizes on hand, from the little snack ones all the way to the gallon freezer bags.

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Obviously, as you continue on the path of emergency preparedness, you’ll start to amass supplies and gear specifically for emergencies. That said, get into the habit of thinking outside the box and coming up with alternative uses for common items. Not only is that great brain exercise, that creativity just might come in handy someday.

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