Prepping items you can get for free – as long as you take the effort to scrounge for them

When you’re prepping, you don’t always have to spend money to acquire survival gear or food supplies. In fact, you can get all sorts of prepping items for free, if you know where to look. (h/t to

Aside from the obvious methods like using coupons or discounts, the tips below can help you find valuable supplies for your stockpile.

  • Alcohol wipes and anti-bacterial solution – If you’re at a doctor’s office or a medical facility, ask nicely and you can get anti-bacterial solutions, medical samples, or wipes for free.
  • Band-Aids, gauze, surgical tape, and wipes – If you happen to drop by laboratories and imaging facilities, you can ask for some alcohol wipes, gauze pads, and mostly used rolls of tape.
  • Church candles – A lot of churches will throw away candles after one or two uses, and you can get them for free if you ask for them. You can melt down small candle stubs to make bigger candles.
  • Chopsticks, condiment packets, salt, pepper, sugar, and straws – These items have various medical and survival uses, so always take a few when you’re eating at a fast-food place. You can also ask for additional condiment packets when ordering at the drive-through. Other condiments that you can ask for include barbecue sauces, jams, mayonnaise, mustard, and soy sauce.
  • Free bicycles – Law enforcement departments in some states may recover a lot of bicycles that have been abandoned, discarded, or stolen (and never claimed by the original owners). These giveaways aren’t always widely advertised and they are often on a first-come basis. When SHTF, a bicycle is the best mode of transportation because they don’t require fuel.
  • Garbage day – Try dumpster-diving on garbage day if you’re looking for free prepping supplies. Rummage through piles of discarded items to find reusable items.
  • Personal protective equipment – Some hospitals and doctor’s offices offer free respirators to visitors. You can also ask for protective gloves in the emergency room or small hand sanitizer bottles in patient rooms.
  • Shampoos and soaps – Hotels and motels offer these amenities for free and if you have some left over, you can take them with you when you leave. You can also ask for additional courtesy combs, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
  • Community events – Attendees at free community events often receive various samples. Try to attend several of these events to get bottled water, dental floss, energy bars, samples of vitamins, seeds, toothbrushes, water bottles, and other freebies.
  • Food banks – If you’re lucky enough not to have to rely on food banks, don’t take more than what you need, such as a couple of food cans that are near the expiration date. These items are often still safe to eat, but avoid damaged cans or those with acidic foods like tomatoes. Visit food banks as a last resort, such as when you don’t have enough time or money to purchase additional supplies. (Related: Prepping your pantry: 10 must-have food items with a long shelf life.)
  • Road debris – When you’re driving, keep an eye out on median strips or shoulders. You might find various items like bandannas, bungee cords, knives, lighters, storage totes, and other tools that have been left behind. Clean them thoroughly before reusing them.
  • Wooden pallets – If you live near businesses that discard wooden pallets on a regular basis, ask if you can have some of them. Wooden pallets can be used to create raised garden beds, chopped for firewood, or for various woodworking projects.

These suggestions are suited for those who wish to start prepping but are worried about their already tight budgets or those who wish to add to their stockpiles without breaking the bank. Remember to ask nicely and you might just get items that can help you survive when SHTF.

You can read more articles on how to keep your supplies fully stocked before SHTF at

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