Chance favors the prepared!

10 Items you should stock up on long term

Soap stockHopefully, as a prepper, you will have some food set back and stocked in case of a disaster. You will have water stored, as well as a few purification methods. You might have a weapon or two stored, and some extra ammunition. (Click the links to find out about water storage, weapons for SHTF, and storing ammo long-term). You might have extra gear and supplies on hand. But could there be items out there you haven’t thought about stockpiling for a long-term, grid down scenario?

In this article, I want to cover some items that you might not realize you should have plenty of  in case of a long-term disaster, and some reasons why it might be a good idea.

So let’s jump in.

Hygiene items

Being clean (or at least feeling clean) is a great boost to morale during a SHTF situation. And during a grid down scenario, you might not have enough water (or fuel to heat the water) for a hot shower. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself clean. So having some extra hygiene items is probably a good idea.

Things like toothpaste and shampoo have a shelf life of about 2 years from the date of manufacture once they are opened. (They can last around 3 years if unopened.)  Things like soap, mouthwash, and deodorant have a 3 year or so shelf life.

Keep in mind that the shelf life listed is for items stored at room temperature. Things like temperature extremes and direct sun light can degrade these products much more quickly.

If you cure your store-bought bars of soap (by removing the wrappers and letting them sit in the air for about 6 weeks) they will harden and last much longer.

As for a lack of hot showers, you can always take a “sponge bath”. (Click the link for tips on how to do this and save water.)

Over the counter meds

Yes, many over the counter medications, such as aspirin, have an expiration date on them. But that does not mean the product is no longer usable after that date. In fact, according to a Harvard Medical School finding,

Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the U.S. military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

Now of course there are several exceptions to this/some things to keep in mind. The first is of course improper storage. These drugs should be kept in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Temperature extremes should be avoided also. In that military study, the drugs were kept in optimum conditions!

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The second thing to remember is that even though the drugs may still be good, they may lose some of their effectiveness over time. So your acetaminophen may only take the edge off of your headache instead of taking it away if used past its “expiration date”. Still, it certainly beats having nothing at all!

Next, if you have any medications with a discard date (as opposed to an expiration date), then absolutely you should toss them once that date is reached. Things like insulin, some antibiotics, etc. should NOT be used past their discard date. Liquid meds, such as eye drops, are included in this category as well.

Drugs that require refrigeration, such as amoxicillin suspension, should also be tossed if the date has passed, OR if it is no longer refrigerated.

Vaccines, biologicals or blood products will lose their potency VERY quickly once their expiration dates are reached. So these are not ideal for storing long-term.


Salt is one of those items you don’t really stop to think about in terms of survival and preparedness. But salt has a lot of uses when it comes to long-term prepper planning.

Salt really doesn’t expire or go bad. As long as you store it correctly (do NOT store in metal containers as salt can leach elements out of metals), it can last forever.

We all know that salt can be used to add flavor to food and preserve meat. (Click the link to find out how to do that.) But you can do a lot of other things with salt as well.

Just a few examples:

You can make a paste using 6 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to remove rust. You can use it to clean cast iron by boiling a small amount of water in the pot, adding some salt, and then use a  brush to whisk away the burned on food. It works well on greasy pans too.

I have gurgled salt water before to help relieve a sore throat. And you can use a salt paste to brush your teeth. It won’t taste great, but it works well in a pinch.

Rub salt on a chicken’s skin before you pluck it. That makes it easier. (It really helps if the chicken is dead first.) You can also soak a fish in salt water first, which makes scaling it easier.

Aluminum Foil

The beauty of aluminum foil is that it is easy to store and lasts forever. It is invulnerable to light, moisture, gases, bacteria, and odors. However, it does tear and rip easily. But as long as you keep it in its original container and aren’t too rough with it, you can store it almost anywhere. Out in the garage, out in the unclimatized shed, or down in the basement.

Aluminum foil has dozens and dozens of uses for a prepper. Everything from cooking, to cleaning, to making a solar oven or Faraday cage, foil is one of those items that is always handy to have in a grid down scenario. Aluminum foil is also easy to make into a hat!  😉

Seriously though, you can even use aluminum foil to make a fire! So this is something I’d make sure I had readily available during a SHTF crisis.

Condiment packages

If the grid goes down for an extended period of time, I promise that at some point, you are going to get food boredom. So to add a bit of extra flavor, condiment packets are one way to go.

The contents of the packets are much more acidic than their big bottled counterparts. The condiment packets are designed to last for around 2 or maybe even 3 years at room temperature. Things like BBQ sauce, mayo, or jelly in the regular bottle containers may only last a few months. So go with the packets for your long-term plans.

Next time you drive through at Taco Bell or Burger King, be sure to grab a few packets. You can also buy them in bulk at a place like Sam’s Club or Costco. That might be the better idea. That way you can date them correctly.

Buttons, snaps, knee patches, needle/thread

Unfortunately, much of today’s clothing is not designed to last. (That way you have to buy more!) Especially not in the rough and tumble world of the zombie apocalypse! So being able to fix and mend your own clothing will become a must!

But to do that, you must have the items on hand to fix them. Yes, you can get a little $5 – $10 sewing kit, but in a long-term, grid down scenario, how long do you think that will last? Having an ample supply might be a good idea!


Sponges are great at collecting moisture. They come in many sizes, and are extremely light weight when dry. You can reuse sponges over and over, unlike paper towels.

Sponges are porous, and can become breeding grounds for bacteria if you do not clean them properly. You do this by soaking them overnight in a mixture of 1 cup hot water, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 3 tablespoons salt. I would clean them regularly (2-3 days), even when not in use.

I would have a good-sized supply, as sponges will eventually wear down with use. Because they are light weight, they are not terribly difficult to store long-term. And they are cheap. Just grab a bundle of them the next time you are at Wal-Mart.

Decks of cards, board games

When you aren’t out there killing zombies, you will have some down time. In reality, if the grid goes down for a long time you will probably have A LOT of down time. Having things to occupy that time will be worth its weight in gold. And while board games like Monopoly (The Walking Dead Edition) may not be as exciting as Grand Theft Auto, they do not need electricity. 😉

Decks of playing cards are good because you can play a HUGE variety of games (here are the rules for almost 30 different card games) with them. So I have a few decks set back.


White distilled vinegar, if stored out of direct sunlight at room temperature can last for decades or longer. And the uses of vinegar are amazing. From sanitizing and cleaning, to preserving food, to eliminating foul odors, vinegar is an item I make sure I have plenty of!

Some of the uses of vinegar include:

  • Use as a disinfectant for things like wood cutting boards or sponges (cleans glass too)
  • Can help reduce itching and pain from sunburns and bug bites
  • Use a little in your mop water when mopping to get rid of flies
  • Can use in your laundry to help reduce the amount of soap you use
  • Vinegar and some baking soda will clear up a clogged drain. Do this by putting baking soda in drain and then adding boiling vinegar, then rinse with hot water
  • Raw apple cider vinegar containing the ‘mother’  (click the link to learn more) is good for keeping your chickens healthy. Add 2 TBSP to a gallon of water for ill birds and half that for preventative maintenance. Do not use this mixture in metal water containers however. The vinegar will corrode the metal.
  • After shampooing, use some apple cider vinegar in your hair to get rid of dandruff.

Because of its very long shelf life, you don’t have to worry about it degrading, spoiling, or becoming contaminated as long as you store it correctly.

You can even make your own vinegar. Read this to find out more.

Hand Tools

Between my father, my brother, and myself, we have a huge assortment of power tools and gear. This includes multiple chain saws, power saws, corded and cordless drills, etc. But if the grid goes down for a long time, we are not going to have the gasoline or electricity needed to keep all of these running.

Tough clothing for tough times

So over the past few years, we have collected hand tools for use should that ever happen. Saws, hand crank drills, etc. (I also include a few well made manual can openers in this as well.)

In addition, we also have a large supply of things like nails, screws, and other building materials. These will be very handy in a long-term grid down situation!

I want to include garden tools in this as well, for obvious reasons.


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Are there things out there that you would stock long-term but you did not see listed here? Tell me about them and why you stock up on them in the comments below.

Stay safe out there!

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