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How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for Your Trunk

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This thrifting survival kit blog post tutorial is sponsored by The Home Depot.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Thrift Diving


I can’t tell you how many times I have left the thrift store with dirty, questionable furniture. I’m talking about the kind of furniture that leaves you desperate to wash your hands, your clothing, and shampoo the back of my van (twice).

This is the nature of thrift stores, though. To find a good deal, sometimes we thrifters must look past the dirt to the true beauty that we know is hidden beneath.

But regardless of the potential, we have to be careful–our love of “thrift” and finding good deals shouldn’t put our family or vehicle at risk with germs, bugs, mold, or any other creepy things that can come as an undesirable “bonus.”

So when The Home Depot approached me about teaming up with Clorox to prevent cold and flu, and for killing bacteria and germs, the bells went off in my head: ding, ding, ding! I know exactly what we thrifters can do with that. We need a thrifting survival kit for our trunks!


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Clorox Clean Up and Disinfecting Wipes clean many surfaces in your home. - Thrift Diving


Watch This Project in Action!

If you’d like to watch this project in action, check it out on my YouTube channel.



Materials Needed

In order to decorate this thrifting survival kit, I needed a few materials:

  • Medium or large thrifted metal or plastic bucket
  • Chalked paint (or spray paint)
  • Alphabet stencils (or vinyl stencils)
  • Clear top coat
  • Paint markers


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Use an old bucket that's large enough to hold items in the trunk of your car. - Thrift Diving

“Must Haves” to Stuff in Your Thrifting Survival Kit

Here is a comprehensive list of things you want to have on hand before hitting the thrift store:


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Items to stock in your survival kit. - Thrift Diving

Off to the Thrift Store

Any reason to go to the thrift store is a good reason. On this trip, I was in search of a decent-sized bucket that could serve as a thrifting survival kit for the trunk of my van.

I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t made one of these sooner for my trunk. The plan was to stuff it with as many thrifting necessities as possible so it had to be big enough to fit all the important stuff but not so big that it would take up a lot of space.

And don’t you know, my thrift store delivered, like it always does. What should I see right there on the bottom shelf? The perfect metal bucket for just a few dollars! (If you’re wondering, yes, I bought those nested metal containers, too!).


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Find affordable metal buckets at the thrift store. - Thrift Diving


STEP 1: Clean and Paint the Bucket or Container

Since I was trying to cover up the existing logo on the metal bucket and wanted a quick and easy project, spray paint seemed ideal to use. But this brand of spray paint wasn’t working very well. It could be that I didn’t shake it up very well, but you can see all the runs and poor coverage. When I tried to wipe it off, it smeared part of the logo. Chalked paint would give me better results on this project. I was worried, though, that the chalked paint would be difficult to use over the smearing.

How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Bucket is spray painted. - Thrift Diving


For the inside, I went with a brilliant red. Chalked paint is great in that it usually doesn’t need a primer beforehand, so I was able to start painting right out of the can.

Keep Reading: What’s the Best Paint For Furniture?


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Paint the inside of the bucket red with chalked paint. - Thrift Diving


I love turquoise and red together so the outside got a couple coats of turquoise. I was able to paint right over the smeared logo; the chalked paint was smooth and went on with no problem!


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Paint the outside of the bucket turquoise with chalked paint. - Thrift Diving


STEP 2: Add Decorations and Stencils

Painting furniture and home decor is a lot of fun but kind of boring when you’re just slapping on a coat of paint. It needs something else. Usually, in the middle of a project, I’ll get ideas for little embellishments that I can to add a little personality to a piece. In this case, I loved the idea of adding decorative dots along the top and bottom edges with a silver painting pen.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Add decoration - Thrift Diving


Next up, it was time for some stencils! Stencils are a great way to add a bit of flair to what could otherwise be a boring painting piece.

I’ve got a personal cutting machine that allows me to make vinyl stencils, but if you don’t have that option, use a simple alphabet stencil sheet that you can pick up for a few bucks at the craft store.

For this thrifting survival kit, I thought it would be cool to add my three rules of thrifting in white chalked paint. I don’t always adhere to these myself (as my overstuffed garage would attest), but I’ll be in full compliance for the new years! Those rules are:

  1. If you can’t walk away, buy it.
  2. If you’re unsure, leave it.
  3. The uglier, the better!

Keep Reading: How to Use Stencils: A Complete Guide


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Add stencils - Thrift Diving


STEP 3: Protect the Paint With a Clear Top Coat

I used a new topcoat and wasn’t too impressed with its results. It dried very spotty and muddled up the finish on the body of the bucket. After a couple of coats, it was less obvious. But next time, I’ll try a different top coat.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Add a clear top coat. - Thrift Diving


STEP 4: Stuff It Full of Thrifting Necessities

The main “ingredient” of this thrifting survival kit is the Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and Clean-Up All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach (plus the Refill), which I picked up from The Home Depot.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Stuff your survival kit with Clorox. - Thrift Diving


I’ve found that not only do you get a lot of surface dirt on the thrifted furniture, but the inside, behind, and under the drawers are filthy! I bought this desk at the thrift store (makeover coming soon!) and when I removed the drawers, I wasn’t quite sure if this was mold or not. It’s not uncommon to find mold on old furniture that’s been stored in garages or basements. But blasting it with the Clean-Up with Bleach should take care of that! You do not want to be transporting that nasty stuff in your car. So clean it up before loading it up.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Cleaning the inside of thrifted furniture. - Thrift Diving


When you run out of cleaner, just use the large Clean-Up All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach Refill to refill your spray bottle, which saves money.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Cleaning dirty thrift store furniture. - Thrift Diving


If you want a bleach-free alternative that can also remove 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, the wipes are great for that. (Don’t forget that you can use this inside your home, too, to disinfect, especially during cold and flu season!

  • Refridgerator handles
  • Toilets
  • Remote controls
  • Handrails
  • Toys
  • Door handles
  • And more!


Use Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to clean refrigerator handles. - Thrift Diving


In your thrifting survival kit, flashlights are so important for your thrifting survival kit! If there are bugs hiding in the furniture, the last place you want to load that furniture up is into your car! Your cell phone light may work, but I recommend a high-powered flashlight for your kit that can really reach those dark corners of the piece!

TIP: If your flashlight runs on batteries (as most do), you might also want to have some spare batteries in your kit.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Thoroughly inspect thrift store furniture with a flashlight before bringing it home. - Thrift Diving


Tape is an essential part of your kit, too, because it can be hazardous to move furniture with doors and drawers swinging open. Not only can it land on your foot, but you can also damage the inside of your vehicle (believe me, the back of my van has many nicks and scratches due to furniture falling over and out!). You might also want to have a moving blanket in your trunk to cover the furniture so it doesn’t damage your car.

TIP: Get yourself some bungee cords in case you’re hauling something large and need to bunging down your trunk for it to fit!


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Tape drawers shut on thrift store furniture before hauling it home. - Thrift Diving


Other Important Items and Why You Need Them

  • Contractor trash bags: They’re thicker and larger. If you’re not able to clean something thoroughly or if you’re still in doubt it’s clean enough, too your furniture or thrifted items into the contractor trash bag, tie it tightly, and inspect it in your driveway or front yard.
  • Tape measure: Will the furniture fit into your trunk? Use a tape measure to measure your trunk space, along with the height, width, and depth of the furniture you’re lugging home. Use bungee cords to tie down a loose trunk. Or call someone to help move the furniture if it won’t fit well enough.
  • Tarp: Protect the floor of your car by putting thrifted items on a tarp. Shake it clean and wipe it down with a disinfecting wipe afterward.
  • Screwdrivers and hammer: Loose furniture can be tightened up, loose nails can be pounded back in or removed.
  • Work gloves: Protect your hands from splinters or glass.
  • Scissors: Cut tags off of items, cut the tape, etc.
  • Batteries: You’ll need them for your flashlight and maybe testing out thrifted electronics to see if they work.
  • Razor blade: Easily peel off annoying price tags from furniture.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Use a razor scraper to remove stickers on thrift store furniture. - Thrift Diving

STEP 5: Store Your Thrifting Survival Kit in Your Trunk

Now that you’ve got everything you’ll need to properly measure, inspect, and clean your second-hand furniture, it’s time to find a good place for it in the trunk. Hopefully, it won’t tip over. Wedge it beside something to keep it secure. I’ve got a tarp and a moving blanket in the van, as well, tucked away in the back.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Keep a thrifting survival kit in your trunk. - Thrift Diving

Great DIY Gift Idea!

Keep in mind that these thrifting survival kits make awesome DIY gift ideas! If you’ll be making one as a holiday or birthday gift, consider adding in fun items like a new paintbrush, chalked paint, and some stencils so that whoever is receiving the kit can not only inspect and clean their thrifted furniture but they’ll also be able to decorate it, as well!

Check out my list of resources for craft materials to include.


How to Make a Thrifting Survival Kit for your Trunk - Create a survival kit for your trunk and makes a great DIY gift idea for friends that love thrift stores. - Thrift Diving


Create a survival kit for your trunk and makes a great DIY gift idea for friends that love thrift stores. - Thrift Diving


Be sure to check out other Clorox Cold and Flu products at The Home Depot for ideas to include in your thrifting surviving kit and for your home.

Love this project? Click here to save it to Pinterest!

Thrifting Survival Kit For Your Trunk - Do you love thrift stores? Create a thrifting survival kit for your trunk with Clorox, a flashlight, disposible gloves, measuring tape, and more!

What Have I Missed?

I’d love to know what other suggestions you think would be great to include in this thrifting survival kit! Leave a comment below and tell me what other necessities you’d include in your kit! 🙂


I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with me to participate in a promotional program. As a part of the program, I am receiving compensation in the form of products and services, for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

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  1. Great idea for thrift stores or yard sales too! One thing I’ve used at the thrift store is a magnet. Great way to test outdoor furniture to see if it’s aluminum or steel.

  2. Great idea to carry a kit of all your treasure-hunting necessities. The Clorox with bleach would worry me in the car, though, with temperature changes and the possibility of leaks – leaving permanent bleach marks. Maybe a disinfecting spray instead? Or at least put the Clorox in a resealable plastic bag? A magnifying glass might be a good addition!

    1. Hey Diane! The Clorox wipes are perfect for the car. And I love your idea of a magnifying glass! Especially to identify any little bugs. eek!

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