13 Dollar Store Finds for Preppers to Stockpile Now

Last Updated: April 23, 2021

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

Just head to your local dollar store and you can find all of these crucial items to stockpile.

Trash Bags

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to stockpile trash bags for emergency situations.

First off, consider what you are going to 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. The reason bleach is such a good prepper dollar store find is 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 to the time to change the bag.

Do you really 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.

Note that you’ll want to have some sturdier gloves on hand too, but those ones you can reuse.

  • 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 you can have. Note that this is different than the plastic tarps which we love so much (see this post for survival uses for a plastic tarp).

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 also stock up on a bunch of these 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 aren’t going to find the best quality food at the dollar store, but you aren’t going to care about quality when SHTF and there is nothing to eat.

By shopping at the dollar tree, you can really get a leg up on your food stockpiling efforts without having to spend 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 very serious problem and can be life-threatening in some circumstances. Along with my emergency water stockpile, I make sure to have some sports drinks in with my supplies.

These are great for quick rehydration in case someone gets diarrhea or is vomiting, 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 are you going to keep yourself clean? The best solution is to stockpile loads of baby wipes. Then you can just 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 are probably going to be one of the most useful items to have after a disaster situation.

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

Have enough of these and you’ll be able to 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 a sickening amount.

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 that we love so much. But they do have a lot of cheaper buckets which can be equally as 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, 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 too 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 a backup or supplement lighting.

  • Why: Emergency lighting
  • How Many: Aim for 120 hours of burn time (4 hours per day for a month). You’ll probably need to have 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?

Leave a comment

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  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. 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.

  7. 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: https://www.primalsurvivor.net/types-of-survival-foods/ This post also talks a bit about nutrition planning for 30+ day stockpiles.


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