Dollar Store Prepping: 13 Items to Stockpile Now

Have you started stockpiling emergency supplies yet? If you haven’t, don’t let cost be why you are unprepared.

Just head to your local dollar store to find all these essential items to stockpile.

Trash Bags

I can’t emphasize enough how important stockpiling trash bags for emergencies is.

First, consider what you will do when the plumbing – and your toilet – stop working.

You’ll need to make an emergency bucket toilet, and you’ll need to line the buckets with trash bags (I’d use two bags for lining). That means you’ll need at least 2 trash bags per day just for the toilet.

You’ll also need trash bags for containing trash (the trash collectors won’t be coming anymore!), waterproofing items, and maybe making an improvised poncho or two.

  • Why: Emergency toilet liner for trash, waterproofing, and much more
  • How Many: Aim to have at least 100 trash bags per person for a month-long stockpile. I’ve stockpiled a lot more than this, though


You can buy big 96oz jugs of bleach at the dollar store. Bleach is such a good prepper dollar store find because it is used to purify water.

  • Why: Purifying dirty water, sanitizing, and cleaning
  • How Much: 1 jug per person

Disposable Vinyl and Latex Gloves

So you’ve made an emergency toilet and lined it with the trash bags you’ve stockpiled. Now comes the time to change the bag.

Do you want to touch that bag with your bare hands? No!

That is why you need to stockpile cheap disposable gloves. These are also good for medical emergencies.

You’ll want some sturdier gloves on hand, but you can reuse those.

  • Why: Handling hazardous materials and during medical emergencies
  • How Many: At least 100 pairs of gloves for a month-long emergency stockpile

Plastic Sheeting (Drop Cloths)

Clear plastic sheeting (Amazon Link) is one of the most useful survival and prepper supplies. Note that this differs from the plastic survival tarps we love.

However, you can still use plastic sheeting for many things, like catching rainwater, sealing broken windows, or putting on the ground to make an impromptu hospital operating table.

  • Why: Catching rainwater, sealing broken windows and doors, and more
  • How Many: Count the number of windows and doors in your home. You’ll want at least double this number.


I wouldn’t rely on a crappy dollar-store flashlight for your main emergency lighting. But you can never have too many flashlights.

Buy a few really good ones, but stock up on some cheap ones from the dollar store. You can give them to neighbors or friends who come knocking on your door for help after SHTF.

  • Why: Emergency lighting
  • How Many: Aim for at least 10 per family member, so they can be used for trading if necessary

Emergency Food

You won’t find the best quality food at the dollar store, but you won’t care about quality when SHTF and there is nothing to eat.

By shopping at dollar tree, you can get a leg up on your food stockpiling efforts without spending a fortune. Read this article about what foods to stockpile.

  • Why: Emergency food
  • How Many: Have at least a 30-day stockpile of emergency food in your home

Sports Drinks

Dehydration is a severe problem and can be life-threatening in some circumstances. Along with my emergency water stockpile, I have some sports drinks with my supplies.

These are great for quick rehydration if someone gets diarrhea, vomits, or has heatstroke.

  • Why: Emergency rehydration
  • How Many: About 1 gallon per person

Hand Sanitizers

The dollar store sells small 2oz travel-size bottles of hand sanitizers. I like that they are small because, if I need to Get Out of Dodge, I can carry one of the small bottles in my Bug Out Bag instead of taking the entire large bottle with me. Yes, you will be grateful for having hand sanitizer around when the plumbing stops working, and you don’t want to waste precious water for washing your hands.

  • Why: Cleaning hands
  • How Many: About 10 ounces per person

Wet Wipes

When the plumbing is down, how will you keep yourself clean? The best solution is to stockpile loads of baby wipes. Then you can wipe your body down with these and be nice and clean. Read more about emergency hygiene here.

  • Why: Emergency hygiene
  • How Many: 8 (60ct) packs per person

Pain Medicines

Pain medicines will probably be one of the most valuable items to have after a disaster.

First, they will help with any pain you happen to get. Pain meds will also probably be a really good SHTF barter item.

Have enough of these, and you can trade them for whatever you are missing.

Read more about OTC medicines to stockpile

  • Why: Pain relief, as a bartering item
  • How Many: For your own need, about 2-5 bottles per person; for bartering, you can’t have too many!


If you try to buy bandages at a pharmacy, they will probably overcharge you.

But, at the dollar store, you can find all types of bandages to stock up on, including standard band-aids, roller bandages, medical tape, butterfly bandages, triangle bandages, and elastic support bandages.

  • Why: Emergency first aid
  • How Many: Aim to have a wide variety of bandages


The dollar store doesn’t carry those 5-gallon buckets with lids we love. But they have a lot of cheaper buckets that can be equally useful in a survival situation.

If you are prepping on a budget, buy just a few 5-gallon buckets and the rest of your buckets from the dollar store.

  • Why: Growing food, storing trash, storing supplies, collecting rainwater, an emergency toilet
  • How Many: I’d aim to have at least 50


You can never have too many candles. And, when you need to buy cheap candles, the dollar store is the place to go. Skip all of those fancy scented candles and buy the largest ones you can find.

You will also want to stock up on those small tealight candles since they are especially good for making an emergency heater out of a ceramic pot.

Note that lanterns make much better emergency lighting than candles, but it is still good to have candles on hand as backup or supplement lighting.

  • Why: Emergency lighting
  • How Many: Aim for 120 burn time (4 hours per day for a month). You’ll probably need 4-5 candles burning to produce significant light, so calculate around 1000 hours of burn time minimum.

Do you have these items stockpiled yet? What other great dollar store items have you found?

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  1. Bleach does expire. Clorox has a nice way to tell how old their bleach is from the code on the bottle. Not sure about other generic brands.

  2. For communications, you may want to include some cheap 2-way radios that you can get in multiples off Amazon or eBay. they are known as FRS or Family Radio Service radios. They’re low power, have a fixed antenna, are license-free (kid radios) and have a reliable range of a mile so you can contact each other for short distances of longer on flat land or hilltop to hilltop. Remember there’s no cell service.

    The other type of radio requires a license costing $35 and is good for ten years and may be used by entire families so long as one member has the license. They’re called GMRS or General Mobile Radio Services radios.

    These have removeable antennas and are generally 5-watts and cover both GMRS and FRS frequencies. The advantage here is that the antennas are detachable so a more efficient whip-style, or tower mounted (up to 25 feet high) may be used which will increase the usable range up to ten or more miles over flat terrain. They also work better in wooded or mountainous areas.

    Again, these require a license from the FCC and requires what’s called an ‘FRN’ number to register. The easiest site I’ve found detailing easy to follow instructions in order to navigate the FCC site is called: “It’s Not A Rubicon.” He’s hilarious, knowledgeable, and has posted an easy-to-follow guide for walking you through the process.

  3. You say quality of emergency food will not be a primary concern in a SHTF situation. I get that, but to deliberately stock poor quality food for a SHTF event is foolish. Nutrition will be a primary need and you only get that from quality foods.

    • Yes, we agree about how important nutrition is! That’s one of the major downsides of canned foods, especially since the sodium content is often dangerously high. However, for many people, buying canned foods is the fastest and most accessible way to get prepped quickly. Canned foods are also a lot easier ot use during short-term emergencies like power outages. I personally don’t want to open 6 Mylar bags of ingredients to make a nutritious meal when the power is only going to be out for a few days.This post goes over the pros/cons of each type of survival food in terms of nutrition: This post also talks a bit about nutrition planning for 30+ day stockpiles.

  4. On the display for hair accessories, I pick up pony tail stretchies in various sizes and the sturdy stretchy cord headbands. These are more versatile than rubber bands for lots of uses….my hubby just borrowed several to secure his hand held ham radio to a phone holder that sits in a cup holder. Then he borrowed more to coil up some of his cords.

  5. Eye glasses, sunglasses, eye glass repair kits, sewing kits and a lot more. Ours has shower curtains that can be used like a tarp to keep things dry or cover things up.

  6. I stock up on wet wipes, hand sanitizer, paper plates/bowls, cheap flashlights and my go to there is matches. The matches are 300ct for $1 is a great deal. Also bandaids and gauze. The paper plates and bowls because I don’t want to be wasting our drinking water on cleaning dishes.

  7. In the 10 years since we bought our cottage & coincident with weather disasters at both places just weeks apart, I have kept 90 days worth of disposable bowls, plates, cups and cutlery at both sites. Paper items are both compostable and burnable, recyclable if clean. In good times the plastic cutlery can be run thru the dishwasher & reused. It’s just our insurance policy, seldom used, but invaluable. On the 91st day we’ll be washing standard dishes by the 3 or 4 bucket method just as we do pots and pans in good times. DIAL is our dishsoap of choice. If you can clean an oily duck with it, you can readily clean cooking utensils.

  8. What KY means with sawdust is you can easily make your own composting toilet with a 5 gal bucket. Just cover the feces with sawdust each time you use it, you can then bury it all later or add it t a bag once every couple of days, saving bags. Adding sawdust will help the decomposition go faster and the smell. You need to try and keep the liquids and solids separate as it’s the urine with the feces that creates the really bad smells.

  9. May I suggest saw dust and a composting toilet rather than plastic trash bags which will never decompose, will stink to high hell and will take up so much unnecessary space


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