skip to Main Content

57 Bandana Uses

Use A Bandana

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links.  Please see our disclaimer to learn more.

‘A kerchief, also known as a bandana or bandanna, is a triangular or square piece of cloth tied around the head or neck for protective or decorative purposes’ (Wikipedia).  Here is some exciting news – there are numerous ways to use a bandana, not only protective or decorative – read on!

Bandana Use with Food and Water

  1. First stage water filter by pouring water through the bandana. You still need to boil the water before drinking but the bandana will filter out larger debris.
  2. If you find yourself in need of water for drinking, you can lay a bandana out overnight or very early in the morning, before daylight. When the dew falls it will land on the bandana. You can then pick it up and squeeze the water out into a cup for drinking. The water will be clean and you will not get much but it will work.
  3. Want to enjoy a cup of coffee post-collapse? Along with alcohol and tobacco, it is going to be one of the most sought-after comfort items. Although it may not be its’ intended use, you can use a bandana or cut bandana squares as a makeshift coffee filter if you run out of them.
  4. Place your favorite tea leaves inside a bandana ‘teabag’, give it a twist, and then drop it inside a cup of hot water. Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint, and Chamomile are great choices. The bandana will keep the leaves from getting into your tea. Once it has sufficiently steeped, pull the bandana out and sip particle free tea.
  5. Wipe off fruit/vegetables before eating. Make sure to locate a clean source of water to sanitize food especially before eating raw or cooking.
  6. Protect food or wrap leftovers. Use as a food cover to keep insects/ debris out of food. For leftovers, moisten a bandana and simply wrap leftovers in it. The dampness in the bandana will gradually transfer to the food which prevents it from going stale or drying out so quickly.
  7. Salad spinner to remove extra water from salad leaves. Make sure your bandana is clean and then put your salad inside and spin it round and round. Fair warning, you might get a little wet.
  8. Picnic cloth. In a survival situation or during a bug out, you will have to eat in areas other than at your kitchen table. You can use a bandana laid on the ground or a tree stump as a picnic cloth or barrier between your food and the surroundings.
  9. Napkin. A bandana is a simple tool to use when cleaning hands and lips, as well as for quick wiping of surfaces. Even if you have paper towels stockpiled, you will not be able to take many with you when bugging out. A bandana can fit in your pocket or be worn around your neck and double as a napkin when you need it.


  1. Absorb sweat off your forehead and eyes to keep it from dripping while you are working, bugging out, or doing other exhausting survival activities. Better to use a bandana than your palm. Or dampen a bandana and use it to clean your face or other body parts. If you have kids, a damp bandana can do just about anything a baby wipe would be used for and they are lightweight so you can carry several of them.
  2. As a handkerchief. In a critical situation (such as bugging out), clearing your nose will make you more focused on the situation at hand.

Bandana Use for Safety

  1. To keep cool. Regulating body temperature is extremely important whenever you are exposed to the weather for any lengthy period of time. Dampen the bandana and place it on your head or neck to lower your body’s temperature.
  2. As a breathing mask in dusty and dirty environments. During certain events such as sandstorms, house fires, wildfires, or riots, you will need something to filter the air you are breathing.
  3. To check wind direction – hold out a bandana and watch it blow to determine wind direction. This is especially useful when dealing with campfires and setting up camping, during both the summer and winter months.
  4. As a knee pad. Fold a larger bandana to fit around each knee area and knot in place. This would be helpful in a survival situation if you are crawling through a field or if you have to get down on your knees to hide for a period of time.
  5. To remove hot pots from an open fire. You need something that can hold heat long enough to effectively move hot plates, pots, and other hot materials. You may have packed surgical or work gloves but those are useless against high temperatures. To use a bandana as a pot-holder, fold it over several times and grab the hot item with the thickest part protecting your hand.
  6. Use it for a better grip on objects. Not only is a bandana perfect for pot holders, it also works extremely well as an extra grip for materials (i.e. wood, dirty tools, wet plastics, and glass, etc.).
  7. Along the same lines – to open a stuck jar lid. During a survival situation, your hands can become slippery, especially if wet or if you have to change the oil in your car or handle some other slippery substance.
    This can make it nearly impossible to open a jar lid when it’s time to eat. Simply place the bandana over the lid and then place your hand on top and screw the lid off. The bandana grips the lid better than your wet or slippery hand.
  8. To signal for help. Since bandanas are available in a variety of colors, the brighter the color, the better your chances of being discovered. Tie a bandana to a tree branch, a pole, or any tall object to attract the attention of rescuers when you are lost.
    In keeping with the universal distress protocol, wave the bandana in waves of three in the U.S., or six in the UK, to indicate distress and signal that immediate help is needed.

First Aid

  1. To wrap a sprained ankle or wrist. If you do not have an ace wrap bandage, a bandana can be used to immobilize your wrist or ankle and provide some support until you can splint it properly.
  2. As temporary wound dressing. Keeping infection out of a wound is going to be critical to preventing infection during a survival situation.  Sterile bandages are the ideal option but if you do not have them with you, a bandana can work.
  3. As a tourniquet. You will need a stick, but this is something a little more advanced and you should probably only do it if you have the proper medical training.
  4. As a sling (to secure that broken arm, for example).
    Unfortunately, injuries are going to happen. Ambulances and other professional medical care might not be immediately accessible if at all. But you can turn a bandana into a sling for your arm or shoulder to immobilize it. Pack safety pins, too.
  5. As an eye patch. If you do not have eye patch bandages, a simple bandana can help you secure a regular bandage over your eyeball. If you did not bring bandages or gauze, fold or cut the bandana into a small square, place it over your eye, and then secure it with another bandana that wraps around your head.
  6. As an ice pack. From a fever to a sprain, to a venomous bite, wet the cloth down or fold it up with snow or ice inside for a cold compress.


  1. Hatband. Bandanas are great for fastening to a hat to catch sweat. The thin, breathable fabric lets air circulate on your head or neck but absorbs sweat to keep you comfortable.
  2. Small pillow. You can either fold it into a thick square or tie the corners together and fill it with leaves or other soft debris.
  3. As a bib. Tuck a portion of the bandana inside your shirt or top if you are eating on the go or lay it over your lap if you are sitting down.
  4. Tie together for a belt. If your belt is made of bandanas, you will have enough to accomplish whatever task you need, air filtration, an arm sling, water filter, etc. and it is all right there on your belt!
  5. Key chain. Loop keys onto a bandana strip. Then tie the end of the bandana together to form a loop.
  6. As a knife sheath. Place a piece of cardboard or a bunch of leaves into a bandana and mold it around the sharp blade for easy carrying and storage.
  7. Clean glasses. Easily wipe your glasses. Although a bandana is not a soft tissue, in emergencies bandanas can do wonders on a dirty lens or two. For stubborn dirt or grime on your lenses, dampen one corner of the bandana and use it to loosen the substance and then dry with another corner.
  8. To keep your (sun) glasses safe. Easily cover your glasses or contact lens without fear of scratching the lens.
  9. To keep hair out of your face. Those of you with long hair know how much of a pain it can be when it’s constantly in your face. In a survival situation, you need all your attention focused on the tasks at hand, so tie it back and keep moving.
  10. Footwear insole. Fold and position two bandanas inside each shoe to avoid blisters as you are hiking or bugging out. A moleskin bandage would work better but a bandana can work temporarily if folded and positioned properly.
  11. Shoelaces. You will have to cut it into long strips first, of course. Wrap the bandana around the top of your hiking boots and tie it to keep it closed until you can get a replacement shoelace.
  12. As ear muffs. When it is cold and windy, wrap a bandana around your sensitive ears. This method protects the outer and inner ear from damaging winds and extreme temperatures. If you are in a situation where you are at risk if someone sees you, make sure your bandana is dark colored or otherwise camouflaged.
  13. To protect your neck or the top of your head from the sun. Since the bandana is more compact and lightweight than a hat, it is a much better choice for your bug out bag. Stock up on them because your group may need a few as well!
  14. Tick and insect protection. If you are walking or hiking through tall grass in a field or the woods, ticks and other insects can be a real threat. Before you get moving, wrap a bandana tightly around each ankle so it overlaps with the hem of each pant leg.
    Tie each one securely. This will help keep ticks and other insects from going up your pant leg. If you use light colored bandanas, you’ll also immediately see a tick stuck to it and can remove it.

Bandana Use – as Equipment

  1. To fasten things together. Whether it is tying the hands of an intruder or tying your hatchet to your bug out bag, you will be glad to have it on hand.
  2. For ‘How To’ instructions. They now make bandanas that have maps, first aid instructions, proper rescue signal techniques, topographical maps, star charts, or pictures of wild plants for foraging and even instructions and examples for knot tying printed right on the cloth of the bandana. These specialty bandanas are great to have on hand because they provide you with reference materials but can also serve multiple purposes.
  3. Temporarily repair a leaky hose on your vehicle. Wrap the bandana as tightly as possible around the leaky hose and tie it off. It will not hold forever, but it could last long enough to get you to a place where you can make more permanent repairs.
  4. Replacement gas cap. A bandana is useful as a temporary gas cap on a vehicle (although not recommended for gas cans). Super-stuff the outermost outlet of the vehicle’s gas tank until you can purchase a replacement. This temporary fix helps to prevent detrimental levels of flammable vapor from getting out into the atmosphere.
  5. To mark your territory. Cut it into pieces, urinate on each of them and place them around your campsite in all directions. Although certainly not guaranteed, this will keep some wild animals away, especially those that have a fear of humans.  It might also keep some humans away who see you doing this!
  6. As a weapon. Fill with rocks, then tie into a bundle and hit your enemies hard. You can also use it against small game or to distract someone who might do you harm by using it as a makeshift shepherd’s sling.  You need to practice using the bandana in this way before you need to rely on it but once you know how to throw with it accurately, any bandana can be used.
  7. As a towel. Bandanas are thin and easy to rinse. You never know when you might end up into the water and then have only have a few minutes to dry yourself up and get moving.
  8. As kindling to start a fire. Most bandanas are made from cotton, which means it will burn. Cut into strips or pieces. Obviously, your bandana needs to be dry.
  9. To mark a trail. Sometimes you may need to retrace your way, especially if you are moving through an unfamiliar area or if you think you might get turned around easily.  Leaving bandana strips along the trail or tying them to trees as you are hiking or bugging out could prove to be a lifesaver. You can use the colored strips to find your way back or leave them so that loved ones or rescue workers have a clue as to which way you went.
  10. To hang a flashlight from the tent ceiling. This will spread the light uniformly over the entire tent and will keep your flashlight from getting stepped on in the night.
  11. Dog collar. Wrapping a bandana around your dog’s neck is a sure sign of ownership.  It is better to have your dog wear a regular collar but a bandana can be a great backup collar if the main collar snaps.
  12. As a dog leash. In a survival situation your dog can be more easily excitable than normal and may snap his leash. You can roll a bandana and use it as a replacement leash in a pinch. If you need to use it for any length of time, you will need to tie several of them together.
  13. As a temporary dog muzzle. Just keep an eye on your dog to make sure it does not get its breathing restricted.
  14. To hold small objects. Make a bag by tying opposite corners together to carry all sorts of things such as change, tinder, gravel for a water filter, etc. You can even attach your bandana to a stick to carry your items “hobo” style.
  15. Like a sponge. Bandanas are absorbent which means you can use it to soak up water or other liquids.
  16. As a toothbrush. Press the finger into it and begin scrubbing and rubbing the teeth and gums. You can also add a teeth cleaning solution, such as toothpaste or baking soda. Wash the bandana frequently to ensure you are not putting yesterday’s germs back into your mouth the next time you brush.
  17. Weight – Bind a stone and toss a line over a limb.
  18. Toilet paper – Some preppers think of using it post-collapse when toilet paper will be impossible to manufacture. If you have to bug out, you will not be able to take your toilet paper stockpile with you. A further idea – try the other 56 uses first!

(For those who are interested in these things – yes, all of these ideas added up to 57!)

Like this article? Pin it on Pinterest!

bandana uses


Kate P

I have always had an urge to “be ready’ for emergency situations. To my delight, I discovered the term “prepping” and that there is a community out there willing to learn and share information on a subject close to my heart. I also discovered how entwined self-sufficiency and homesteading are with prepping!

Back To Top
×Close search