Reusable Items in a First Aid Kit: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Best Practices

Did you know that certain items in a first aid kit can be reused? Sustainability is behind this, stay tuned to learn more.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using reusable items in a first aid kit?

Short Answer: It is cost-effective, as it defeats the purpose of constantly having to buy new medical supplies

  • Reusable items create less waste, so there is no need for waste management 
  • It is difficult to source these type of kits as they come from multiple sources 
  • More man power is required for cleaning, sterilising and packaging the kit 
  • The cost of cleaning and and sanitising products is costly

Introduction to Reusable Items in First Aid Kits

A well-prepared first aid kit should contain a variety of items that can be used to provide immediate care and assistance during emergencies.

While many medical supplies are disposable and single-use, there are reusable items that can be beneficial to include in a first aid kit.

These items offer: 

  • Versatility 
  • Durability 
  • Ability to be used multiple times

The reusable items in your kit can serve a multitude of purposes and cater to different needs, let’s take a look at a list of reusable items:

Cold Packs

Cold packs or ice packs are reusable items that provide immediate relief for pain, swelling, or inflammation.

They can be stored in a freezer, and used multiple times by following the proper instructions.

After use, they can be placed back in the freezer to be ready for the next application.


Tweezers are useful for removing splinters, thorns or other small foreign objects embedded in the skin.

They are reusable, can be cleaned and sterilised after each use.


Scissors are versatile tools that can be used for cutting bandages, medical tape or clothing.

Choose a pair of sharp, sturdy scissors that can withstand repeated use. They should be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use.

CPR Mask

CPR masks are essential for providing rescue breaths during a cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

They often come with one-way valves to prevent cross-contamination and can be cleaned after for future use.

Reusable Gloves

While disposable gloves are commonly used for hygiene and infection control, reusable gloves are made of durable materials like nitrile that can be included in a first aid kit.

These gloves can be washed, disinfected, and reused, so that there is ongoing protection during first aid procedures.

Note that even reusable items should be disinfected, cleaned and properly maintained after each use.

Advantages of Using Reusable Items in First Aid

When it comes to reusable items in first aid, there are many advantages that can be considered when comparing it to single-use medical supplies.

Let’s take a look at these advantages:


By opting for reusable items, you contribute to reducing waste and the environmental impact.

Disposable items often end up in landfills, whereas reusable items can be used multiple items, reducing overall waste generated.


Reusable items are often versatile and can serve multiple purposes. A pair of reusable scissors can be used to cut clothes, bandages or medical tape.

The versatility makes them valuable tools during first aid scenarios.

Easy maintenance

They are generally straightforward to clean and maintain. Follow the necessary instructions when cleaning and disinfecting them so they will be ready for use when you need them.

Durability and Reliability

Reusable items are typically designed to be durable and withstand repeated use. They are made of sturdy materials that can combat the rigours of first aid first aid situations.


These items are more cost-effective in the long run compared to disposable items that have to be regularly replaced.

Instead of continuously buying new supplies, investing in reusable items reduces ongoing expenses.


Reusable items can be tailored to suit individual needs and preference. You can choose items that best fit your specific first aid requirements.

This way, your kit will be well equipped and suited to your unique circumstances.

Regularly inspect the reusable items for any signs of wear and tear, and replace them as necessary to maintain their functionality and safety.

Disadvantages and Risks of Using Reusable Items in First Aid

Even though reusable items have the advantages as we have discussed above, it is important to be aware that there are disadvantages and risks associated with reusable items on the other hand, which include:

Limited Availability

In certain situations, such as remote or emergency settings, access to water, cleaning agents, or adequate cleaning supplies may be limited.

This can make it challenging to clean and maintain the items, potentially compromising their safety and efficacy.

Convenience and Time

Using reusable items may require more time and effort compared to disposable alternatives.

The whole process of cleaning takes additional steps and may not always be practical or feasible during time-sensitive or high-stress situations.

Wear and Tear

Reusable items may experience wear and tear over time, affecting their functionality.

It is for this reason that regular inspection of the supplies is necessary to identify signs of damage or deterioration.

Contamination Risk

Reusable items can pose a higher risk of contamination compared to disposable items.

Despite proper cleaning, there is still a chance of residual pathogens or debris remaining on the item, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Personal Hygiene

Items such as gloves or masks may require personal hygiene practices to prevent self-contamination or the spread of germs.

Avoid touching the face or other surfaces, wash hands before use and follow other safety procedures as well.

Ultimately, the decision to use reusable items should be based on the assessment of the specific situation and the availability of resources for maintenance.

Best Practices for Cleaning and Maintaining Reusable Items in a First Aid Kit

All reusable items need to be cleaned thoroughly before they are ready for use, and it is an important step to prevent any sort of contamination.

Reusable items such as tweezers, scissors, or splints should be cleaned regularly to remove dirt or debris and potentially harmful microorganisms.

Let’s dive into the practices that you can follow:

Hand Hygiene

Before handling reusable items, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer to minimise the risk of introducing contaminants.

Cleaning Agents

Use appropriate cleaning agents that have been recommended for specific reusable items.

Mild soap, warm water, disinfectants such as diluted bleach solutions or alcohol-based wipes, are commonly used for cleaning.

Avoid using harsh chemicals that may damage or degrade the item.


After cleaning, disinfect the reusable items to kill any remaining germs. Follow the recommended contact time for the disinfectant to be effective.

Pay attention to hard-to-reach areas, crevices or surfaces that may require additional attention.


Thoroughly dry the reusable items once they have been cleaned and disinfected.

Moisture can promote growth of microorganisms, and the items need to be completely dry before they are stored.


Store the reusable items in a clean and dry container or compartment within your first aid kit.

Consider using separate compartments or individual bags for each item to avoid cross-contamination.

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environment where the first aid kit is stored. It should not be stored in areas with extreme temperatures or direct sunlight as it will affect the contents.

Regular inspection

Your first aid kit needs to be regularly inspected for any signs of damage or expiration.

Items that are no longer in good condition should be replaced.

If you’re in need of a pair of scissors to add in your first aid kit, you can check out our article here.

An instant cold compress is a reusable item in your first aid kit, to find out more read our article The Benefits of Including an Instant Cold Compress in Your First Aid Kit.

Related Questions

How often do reusable items need to be cleaned?

This will depend on the frequency of use, the type of item and its intended use. However, it is recommended to clean reusable items after each use, especially if they come into contact with bodily fluids, open wounds or potentially infectious materials.

The items need to be properly cleaned even if they haven’t been used recently, so they will be ready for use when needed.

Do reusable items in your first aid kit expire?

Reusable items may not have explicit expiration dates like with disposable items, but they can still degrade over a certain period of time, become less effective, or develop wear and tear that can compromise their functionality.

This is why it is necessary to regularly inspect reusable items and replace them when needed.


Reusable items are more environmentally friendly and sustainable, but they do have certain drawbacks.

 We hope you find the information from this blog helpful!


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