Common Prepping Supplies that Don’t Last Very Long

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After prepping for the last couple of years, I am starting to discover some items in the emergency kit or bug-out bag do not last as long as I thought.  Not only do you need to track your food storage, you also need to pay attention to your non-perishables.  I am not saying you should avoid stocking these items, but I do recommend you rotate these supplies often.


I made the mistake of leaving batteries inside flashlights and lanterns and they leaked after a few months, ruining the gadget.  Batteries do expire and lose potency, or they leak battery acid when they get old.  A battery testerwill help you manage your battery supplies.  I still stock up, but I rotate frequently and I now keep rechargeable batteries which are cost effective.


Many sites don’t even recommend candles for emergencies due to risk of fire hazard, but many people stock up on candles for power outages.  Because we live in a hot climate for several months out of the year, we’ve had candles stored in the garage that have melted and warped.  If you keep candles, make sure to keep in a cool, dry place.  As a backup, learn to make inexpensive lamps from household items

2.5 gallon plastic water bottles

plastic 2.5 gallong water bottlesI used to store several 2.5 gallon water bottles but I have found the plastic containers degrade and can easily spring a leak.  I’ve had a few mishaps with them.  I still keep some but I rotate them frequently.   To avoid storage failures, I’ve added these heavy duty water containers to my water storage.

Lip Balm

Most bug out bags contain at least one lip balm and they are highly recommended when you are out in the sun.  However, like candles, they tend to melt into a gooey mess if left in the heat.  Store them in a cool dry place, and inspect them every year.  When they get old they also get more waxy tasting.

Adhesive Bandages

I have several boxes of adhesive bandages stocked up in several places:  car first aid kit, home emergency kit, office kit etc.  I recently used a few of the older ones and found they lose their adhesive properties over time.  They can be used but because they don’t stick as well, they need replacing more often.  You still need to stock up on them, just remember to use and rotate frequently.

Antibacterial wipes

I had a few boxes of individually wrapped antibacterial wipes from a year ago.  I opened a few packets to check and found that many wipes have already dried up.  The liquid antibacterial gel so far does not have any sign of deterioration.   I think the gel gets a bit thicker over time, but remains usable.

Sunscreens, Lotions and Mosquito Repellant

These liquids frequently have expiration dates but we all know most items are still usable post expiration.  However, they do have a shelf life.  Pay attention to the texture, smell and consistency of the liquid.  If you notice that the ingredients have separated, the item smells “off” or has changed color, it is time to get rid of it.  There is no point in hanging on to a product that has lost its potency.


Many apartment preppers are unable to store gasoline.  Due to the fire hazard, storing gasoline is usually prohibited in the lease.   However, if you are able to store gasoline, you will need to use CARB (if you live in California, it’s the California Air Resources Board or EPA compliant gasoline containers.  Even then, gasoline will stay fresh only for about 30-90 days at a maximum, depending on storage conditions.  You will need to use a gasoline stabilizer such as Sta-Bil, and continue to rotate your supplies regularly.

After storing supplies for a couple of years, I’ve learned that reality sometimes falls short of expectations.  I hate throwing unused stuff away but once it’s no longer effective, out it goes.  At that point, these old items are just clutter and you are just fooling yourself thinking you have supplies.  The worst thing would be to have prepping supplies fail you when you need them most, or when you can no longer buy new ones after an emergency.  Keeping close track of your stored items will help you avoid waste and nasty surprises later on.


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  1. Rotation, rotation, rotation. You have to constantly rotate your supplies, or risk loosing them. This is great article reminding us that almost everything has a useful shelf life. It is also a dire warning that once the power goes out and our homes are 100+ degrees at times, things are going to go bad fast. I keep about 6 months worth of supplies on hand and rotate constantly, but in a long term SHTF situation, we are going to all be without a lot of the things we thought we would have on hand. Where I live, it is in the 80’s in the house right now with the air off and the windows open. If it’s that hot in February, imagine wht it will be like in August. You can’t just throw things in the closet and forget them here.

    1. JAS, This is so true, when the power is out, supplies would be have a lot shorter shelf life. Where we live, for about 120 days out the year, temps go up to 90-100s. Thanks for the comment.

  2. I rotate my gasoline supply yearly. Every fall I refill and stabilize a supply for my generator. In the summer I use the gas in my lawnmower, chain saw, boat motor and if there is any left it goes into the car.

    1. I take one can of gas a month and dump into the van and refill the can. That way I always have a good supply of fresh gas. This new gas doesn’t last long, even with stabilizers in it.

  3. Keep up the good work!

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  4. Great stuff to know. I second your comments about band-aids. I have a bunch that I have stored and the plastic wrappers start to fall off after a couple years making them unsterile. Not the end of the world, but something worth rotating…


  5. You are so right!! Deodorant and toothpaste comes to mind for me. I get it for free and have a huge amount. The deodorant will melt and toothpaste has an expiration date. I am going to make sure the toothpaste and deodorant don’t become toxic after expiration.

  6. I have used Sta-Bil (available at Walmart) to treat my gasoline for storage. Doing this, I’ve used gas that’s two years old and have seen no degradation in the way the vehicle runs. I normally replace the gas in the winter because of the different starting additives that are in the winter mix. I have heard better things about PRI-G as a stabilizer and will be giving it a try on my next rotation.


    1. Hey Matt, Good to know that you have been able to use 2 year old gas that has Sta-bil. Thanks for telling us about your experience with it. The winter/summer variations in the gasoline mix would make a difference as well. I appreciate the comment!

  7. The gunk that alkaline batteries leak isn’t actually acidic, it’s the opposite, a base. Thus a mild acid like vinegar or lemon juice works great for cleaning up a leak; I then finish it off with some rubbing alcohol. With a little patience you can save the gadget, even a long time after the leak happened.

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