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45+ Household Items for Defending Yourself

There may be a time when you can’t get to your weapon to protect yourself. Read on and don’t fear.

According to the FBI, there were an estimated 1,203,808 violent crimes in 2019 and an estimated 6,925,677 property crimes.

Unfortunately, with burglaries occurring every 30 seconds in the US, we need our wits about us. We may not have access to a “real” weapon in our time of need. But that shouldn’t stop us from defending ourselves against intruders or attackers.

A quick glance at these headlines show how survivors use whatever they can as a weapon:

  • ‘I didn’t want to die’: 12-year-old girl armed with baseball bat holds off home invader until police arrive.
  • ‘I bent his fingers back and he started screaming’: Black belt ‘Lady Ninja’, 67, who trained in jujitsu for 26 years and weighs just 100lbs takes down man who ‘attacked’ her wheelchair-bound neighbor, 81, at their senior living complex.
  • 72-year-old woman fights off gunman with fire extinguisher

Spend time today considering the steps you can take to protect yourself in a dangerous situation using your mind and the tools you have readily available in your home

Prioritize Escaping and Getting Help

In a self-defense situation, the priority is to escape and get help. Below, we are listing items you can use to defend yourself, but we are NOT suggesting you fight your attacker

Let us repeat: We are NOT suggesting you fight your attacker.

Instead, the goal is to potentially distract or disarm your attacker so that you can escape and get help.

One advantage of modern technology is the ability to get help when you need it. For instance, you can text 911 from your Apple Watch or iPhone rather than calling. You can also use the swipe Emergency SOS feature to call emergency services. 

However, there may be times when you are ABSOLUTELY FORCED to defend your life and fight off an attacker. Self-defense expert Jennifer Cassetta says, “For me, when I was grabbed on the street in New York when I was living there, I said ‘I released my inner She-Beast’ that night. We all have this power within, like animals in the wild, protecting their young. It’s a primal, primal thing to be able to protect yourself, but we’re just not used to it. So if we can think, ‘Now I’m the attacker, I’m the tiger, and that’s my dinner,’ and almost become the attacker, that’s what I try to teach women in my classes, instead of, ‘Oh, my God, I’m the victim, I need to defend myself.’ That’s not the attitude that’s going to win.” (emphasis added) 

RELATED READ: Layers of defense for your home

Here are 45+ household items you can use to defend yourself and avoid becoming a victim:

Household Items for Defending Yourself: Kitchen Supplies

cast iron skillet

Hiding in plain sight in your kitchen are several tools to defend yourself.

  • Cast Iron Skillets: A cast iron skillet has enough weight to do some serious damage and immobilize an attacker.
  • Knives: Cutting or piercing an attacker may give you enough time to escape. Knives are also potentially lethal.
  • Spices: Spices, such as chili powder or pepper, can be thrown into an attacker’s eyes to blind him. 
  • Vinegar: Not only is vinegar one of the go-to products for your survival stash but it is also useful for defending yourself against attackers. Divas for Defense claims, “The acidity is an extreme irritant to the eyes and will cause an attacker to be distracted and unable to see.”
  • Cutting Boards: Wooden or marble cutting boards can be used as shields or striking instruments.
  • Wine Bottles: Wine bottles can be broken, and the glass used for defense. However, if you smash an empty wine bottle, you risk cutting yourself. Opt for a full wine bottle that has more weight to hit your assailant. 

Office Supplies

Within your office, there are some tools you can use to slow down your attacker.

  • Pens: Regular pens can be used to pierce your attacker, especially if you aim for specific, vulnerable parts of the body (like the neck, chest, groin, eyes, and major arteries).
  • Scissors: Like knives and pens, scissors can pierce or cut the attacker, possibly lethally. 
  • Staplers: Throwing or hitting an attacker with a stapler can slow him down.


We teach our children to use tools safely because we know they have the potential to hurt or maim. With this in mind, tools make effective improvised weapons.

  • Hammers: Hammers can cause blunt force trauma.
  • Screwdriver: Screwdrivers can be used like pens to pierce sensitive parts of the body.
  • Gardening Tools: Shovels or hoes can be used to prevent the attacker from getting closer to you as well as hitting the attacker. 

Sports Equipment

Sport equipment can be used for more than just games.

  • Bats: There have been multiple cases where people have used bats to defend themselves against intruders, including the story we referenced earlier where a 12-year-old girl held off an intruder.
  • Racquets: Another way to prevent an attacker from getting close to you is by using a racquet as a weapon.
  • Balls: With good aim, a thrown ball can knock an assailant off course or distract him long enough for you to get away.
  • Helmets: Helmets have heft and weight. Use one as a shield or throw it at the attacker.


bleach bottles on a grocery store self

Many people don’t realize that they have a stash of weapons underneath the sink or in the garage. We’re talking about chemicals that can blind and slow down intruders.

  • Fire Extinguishers: You can spray a fire extinguisher directly at your attacker or you can use it as a blunt-force object, like the grandmother in Louisiana did.
  • Insect Sprays: Insect repellants burn and irritate the eyes, so spray away. In particular, hornet or wasp sprays are effective because they spray from 10 to 20 feet away.
  • Bleach: Throw bleach at the attacker. It will burn an attacker’s eyes, nose, and throat. 
  • Hairsprays: Spray aerosol hairspray directly into your assailant’s eyes to blind them. Also, like WD-40, you can use hairspray to create a homemade flamethrower.
  • Perfumes: Spraying a strong perfume at your attacker will slow him down by disturbing his vision and making it difficult for him to breathe. 

Blunt-Force Objects

Anything in your home that has some weight to it can be used to hit an attacker. Think outside of the box.

  • Lamps: All parts of a lamp can be improvised weapons: the base, the cord, and the lamplight itself.
  • Vases: Large, heavy vases work to destabilize attackers. 
  • Hardback Books: Even heavy hardback books (like coffee table books) can be used to hit attackers.

RELATED READ: The quarterstaff – a multipurpose survival tool

Objects to Distract and Shield

All around you in your home are objects that can be used to distract your attacker and shield you from attacks. They work best to distract the attacker while you find a more suitable weapon.

  • Footwear: A pair of stilettos or steel-toed shoes can be weapons when necessary.
  • Shirts, Blankets, Towels: Throw clothing and linens so they block the intruder’s line of vision.
  • Pillows: Use pillows as a shield or throw pillows to distract as you escape or run to find a weapon.
  • Ironing Boards: Ironing boards work like shields.
  • Chairs: Keeping a chair between you and the attacker can slow him down.

Heat-Based Objects

According to SafeWise, “45% of all reported burglaries occurred in the daytime compared to 39% at night.” This means these attacks may occur while you are home and are enjoying your regular routine.

  • Coffee: That pot or mug of hot coffee will work wonders to slow down your attacker.
  • Candle Wax: Throw candle wax or wax from a melting diffuser onto the attacker. 
  • Curling Irons: If your curling iron (or other heated hair tools) is plugged in and hot, use this to burn the assailant. 
  • Iron: An iron works as a blunt-force object, but it works even better if it is hot (think about the movie Home Alone).

Other Household Items for Defending Yourself

Ultimately, anything is better than nothing when it comes to protecting yourself. There are many other items inside your home that can help you survive an attack.

  • Sock of Pennies: Keep a sock full of coins or rocks on your nightstand to hit a potential attacker. 
  • Mascara Wands: All women have felt the pain of accidentally jabbing their mascara wand into their eye. Treat your attacker to the same pain.
  • Manicure/Pedicure Kits: Most small manicure kits contain small scissors, metal nail files, and peeling knives, all of which can be used as weapons.
  • Wire Hangers: Wire hangers have long been used for cooking s’mores, but the sharp wire can also work well as a self-defense tool to jab your attacker.
  • Reusable Water Bottles: The popular aluminum and stainless-steel reusable water bottles can deliver quite a punch if you use them to hit an attacker.
  • Shoelaces: If your attacker binds your hands, you can use shoelaces to break free. Watch this YouTube video to see how it is done.

Don’t fear; be aware and prepare!

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