Every home comes with maintenance, repairs, and surprising challenges, which is why most of us already have the obvious essentials on hand—fire extinguishers, flashlights, basic tools, and the like. But there are a several items you might not think of as a “home essential” that are going to prove very useful to you one day. Here are the unexpected home essentials you’re going to be glad to have on hand.

Traffic cones

The first time a contractor needs to park on your street, or your in-laws are visiting and they like to park right in front of your house or you have a broken sidewalk that could lead to a messy personal injury lawsuit, you’re going to want traffic cones. Having a few of these babies out in your shed or down in your basement will make your life a lot easier if you need to block off areas or warn pedestrians or drivers—or just save your parking spot when you run to the store for.


It sounds fancy, but an endoscope tool is just a small camera at the end of a flexible wire. Having one means you’ll be able to see inside small, closed-off spaces without tearing holes in your walls or floors, you’ll be able to discover the reason your kitchen sink won’t drain properly, where that screw wound up when you dropped it, and what is making that disturbing scratching noise in your bedroom wall. There are a lot of affordable ones that work with your phone as a screen, and you’ll be glad you have it.

Rechargeable lighter

Blackouts are going to happen, and pilot lights are going to go out. Rather than relying on wooden matches you forget to restock (and that can go bad over time if stored improperly) or a traditional fueled lighter that you can forget to refuel, a rechargeable lighter needs no fuel and has a flexible neck enabling you to get it into tight spots.

Critter catchers

You might feel like spiders and insects belong outside, but they do manage to find their way in. Instead of smashing them or trying to catch-and-release with a glass or a paper plate, the Critter Catcher will help you scoop them up and deposit them back outside (without ever having to get too close).

Zip ties

Once you own them, you will use zip ties constantly. You’ll use them to tie stuff together, to tie stuff down, to make temporary repairs, and a dozen other ways. The simplicity, relative durability, and cheapness of zip ties makes them something everyone should have on hand in their home.

Mover’s dolly

Whether it’s a couch, a washing machine, or any other large, heavy, bulky object or appliance, you need a mover’s dolly. Hang it in the garage and forget about it, and then when you need to transport your old fridge to the curb you can glide it out there with ease, or when you decide the living room needs to be totally re-arranged to encourage positive energy flows, you won’t break your back trying to move every piece of furniture by lifting it.

Museum putty

If you’ve ever used that blue gunk to put a poster up on the wall of your dorm room or rental, you know the fundamental nature of Museum Putty. But this stuff is incredibly useful, because you can use it to ensure that nothing ever slips off a shelf. Anything you want to display can be secured in place, and no amount of roughhousing children, clumsy guests, or earthquakes will knock it off. You can also use it to stabilize the shelves themselves if they wobble or rattle on their supports. It won’t damage surfaces and comes right off when you need it to.

USB outlets

We’ve got so many devices to charge, and all those cords and dongles need somewhere to go—installing USB outlets throughout your home will make your life easier. You won’t have to hunt around for the right adapter, you won’t have things plugged into your laptop all the time, and you’ll be able to plug in immediately if your phone or tablet (or anything else USB-powered) gets a low-battery warning. And they are easy to install even if you have no experience with electricity.

Magnetic pickups

If you’ve ever dropped (and subsequently lost) a tiny screw or nail into a narrow opening, you need a magnetic pick-up tool like this one. Never lose a screw, bolt, or other tiny metal object again—even if it goes down your bathroom drain.