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The 5-Minute Prepper #4: Save Money on Your Preps With Old Clothes

Nowadays, most of us don’t wait until our clothes and shoes are unusable before we replace them. Unless they are completely falling apart, many of the clothing items and shoes we throw away can be repurposed for preparedness use.

If you have any articles of clothing that are still serviceable or wearable, save them and put them in one of your preparedness packs or in emergency stashes at places like retreat areas, vacation homes, etc.

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Even if they are worn in places or have holes, they can be patched up when needed.  In fact, some of the items you store can be used as repair material for your other clothing items.

By keeping these items for preparedness purposes, you’ll be saving a lot of money. There’s no need to store brand new clothes in an evacuation bag. Especially since you, hopefully, will never need to use those clothes. However, it’s a great feeling knowing that you have a change of clothes and some shoes stored away in your car, retreat, or fallback position. Think of the money you’ll be saving that can be used for other preparedness gear!

Here are some suggestions:

  • Socks
  • Shorts and pants
  • Underwear and bras
  • T-shirts and collared shirts
  • Jackets and coats
  • Gloves, hats, and scarves
  • Shoes, boots, and sandals
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Pillowcases
  • Belts

Here are some of the places you could use these items:

  • Bug-out bags
  • Evacuation bags
  • Caches (Have you thought about keeping a box of prep items at your parent’s, your friend’s, or at another location?)
  • Retreat areas
  • Car kits
  • Home escape bags

If you have kids, keep in mind that they’ll grow out of their current size relatively quickly. One way around this is to buy clothes and shoes they’ll be wearing in one or two years and store that. You can swap these out during your annual check of your packs.

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Rob Hanus is the author of “The Preparedness Capability Checklist: A Planning and Evaluation Tool for Becoming More Self-Reliant,” an easy-to-read book that offers the absolute best method for intelligent and deliberate prepping. Rob is also host of the Preparedness Podcast.

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COMMENTS(15)

  • G! says:

    If there is one aspect of self sufficiency that I consider extremely important in “good times” and in “bad times,” it is sewing. It is part of a frugal lifestyle. Reduction of expenditures is the same as cash is a concept lost on many. The more the population is dependent upon “Nanny”/big Corporate, the more money corporate earns, and the more dependent the population.

    With the influx of cheap clothing (was it the 1980’s and beyond?), home sewing took a back seat. Today, few are willing to sew. The reasons are more complex that just cheap clothing, but the result is dependency upon the cost, quality, and availability of what is in the stores.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      My mother in law tells me of the dresses they made from grain sacks. the sacks were intentionally sold with pretty patterns on it because they knew it would be used to make clothing.

      The biggest comment I hear from people I’ve interviewed who have lived through a collapse situation is “oh my gosh, how much we used to waste…”

  • Casey says:

    Something that will help conserve those clothes, shoes, books, etc.. and save a ton of space..is to put them in those vacuum-sealed storage bags. I can get two seabags full of clothes in less than one seabag by putting them in storage bags and evacuating the air from them. Every season we take all the clothes from last season and put them in the storage bags we have just emptied the clothes from, to wear. No bugs, mold, etc. And about 1/3rd the volume, too.

    Yer Pal,
    Casey

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Good tip – thanks!

  • Anita Wald-Tuttle says:

    I’m so glad you wrote your rant, Marjory! I’ve been watching the underground news and agonizing over how to let my children know the worst and help them to prepare (if such a thing is possible). My oldest daughter listens to Coast to Coast so perhaps she’s getting some of the information but not sharing with me for fear of upsetting me. We’ll see! Keep up your good work! Hints for apartment dwellers are especially appreciated!

  • Dianna says:

    Many of us worry about sewing without electricity so I decided to get an old treadle machine. It is now working thanks to my honey and I can sew with or without power. Want to know what to do to make life easier in hard times go back and look at the things that improved our ancestors lives before electricity came along. I have a washer and clothesline for laundry plus a 5 gal bucket with a plunger. I make my own laundry soap for pennies and fabric softer to boot. Open your eyes and read some books to make your life more interesting and practical. We are able to do many things if we put our minds to it. Save those clothes and get those threads for even if the clothes are trashed cut out pieces and stitch them for a nice warm quilt.

    1. G! says:

      I really like treadles, and consider them very a efficient sewing machines. The truth, however, is that hand sewing can be just as efficient as sewing with a sewing machine, treadle, crank, or electric–manual or computer. Some consider it better than machine sewing. It is more meditative. Most of the sewing for haute couture is hand stitching. I prefer hand sewing for small pieces as well as anywhere I want small “mouse size” stitches.

      No matter the skill, the proper supplies are needed:

      For Want of a Nail

      For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
      For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
      For want of a horse the rider was lost.
      For want of a rider the message was lost.
      For want of a message the battle was lost.
      For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
      And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. (Wikipedia)

    2. G! says:

      I really like treadles, and consider them very a efficient sewing machines. The truth, however, is that hand sewing can be just as efficient as sewing with a sewing machine, treadle, crank, or electric–manual or computer. Some consider it better than machine sewing. It is more meditative. Most of the sewing for haute couture is hand stitching. I prefer hand sewing for small pieces as well as anywhere I want small “mouse size” stitches.

      Sewing machines can break down. I know more people with broken machines than machines that work!

      No matter the skill, the proper supplies are needed. Hand sewing supplies use almost the same supplies needed as machine sewn, sans the sewing machine, of course.

      For Want of a Nail

      For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
      For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
      For want of a horse the rider was lost.
      For want of a rider the message was lost.
      For want of a message the battle was lost.
      For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
      And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. (Wikipedia)

  • SFB says:

    Cooncidental timing on this post. Just a couple of days ago I sealed up some old clothes in foodsaver bags for storage at our cabin/retreat. I put these in the category of “forever preps” as they are sealed up nice and tight and should last pretty much “forever” or until I need them (as long as I put them where mice can’t get to them). If I ever need to arive at the cabin with pretty much just the clothes on my back, it will be nice to have a few full sets of clothing up there.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Yes, and when you first bought them you liked them… Glad you sealed them up. I’ve found dirt dobbers making nexts in the old ones I stored without it being very tight.

  • Jim says:

    Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl. This mini series is currently on netflix. If you think it can’t happen here you need to see this. It is very well done with great B/W photography. In it they mention the grain sacks with the prints on them that people made into clothes.

    It is well worth the watch but each of the 2 episodes is 2 hours long but well worth the time.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Oh thanks, I’ll try to watch that.

  • Tamara. Donan says:

    I have been a great fan of Amy Deczyn’s ( I’m sure I mangled this name !) “The Tightwad Gazette” for years.
    Here is one used clothing tip I used when the kids were younger; label boxes,( I used empty office paper cartons ), by size and sex eg: ” boy, size 6x” and shoes, ” girl-7″. I had these boxes stretching from toddler to pre-teen,( after that the fight wasn’t worth it). Anytime I had used, thrift, and hand-me-down clothes, I would stain treat, repair, and store them away.this saved me a fortune, we went back to school shopping in the attic.

    1. Iris Weaver says:

      I am the oldest of 8 and growing up in the late 50s and 60s you can bet those clothes got handed down through several kids!

  • Iris Weaver says:

    When I decide a pair of jeans is past use or giveaway, I cut off the legs and save them for patching other jeans.

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