40 Survival Uses for Bobby Pins

Bobby pins are cheap and can be easily found in the home of anyone with long hair. Like many other common items, they can also be used in a variety of ways for survival.

Some of the best survival uses for bobby pins are:

  • To secure a bandage
  • Emergency splint
  • Awl or scribe
  • Zipper pull
  • Clothespin
  • Belt pouch anchor
  • Fish hook
  • Lock picks
  • Nail holder
  • Cleaning pick

Although those are some of the most well-known ways to use bobby pins for survival, there are many more. Here are 40 ways that you can use bobby pins for survival.

Survival Uses for Bobby Pins

Survival uses for bobby pins

Secure a Bandage

One of the best ways to use a bobby pin for survival is to use it to secure a bandage around a wound. Wrap gauze or a bandana around the affected area and use the bobby pin to keep it in place.

Close Your Nose

Sometimes smells can be so bad that they will literally make you sick. Stop the gag reflex dead in its tracks by closing your nose with a bobby pin. This works best with people that have smaller noses and larger bobby pins.

Toothpaste Saver

I am a firm believer that there is almost always enough toothpaste hiding somewhere in the tube to brush my teeth just one more time. You can use a bobby pin to coax the small amount that is left out of the tube and onto your toothbrush. This could be useful in a survival situation or if you just forgot to go to the grocery store the night before.


Do you have something stuck in your teeth and can’t find a toothpick anywhere. A bobby pin can act as an acceptable substitute. However, you may need to remove the little knobs on the end of the pin before you do so.

Emergency Splint

A bobby pin can also be used as a makeshift splint for broken fingers during an emergency or survival situation. Bandage the finger and then use paracord or additional bandages to secure the bobby pin next to it. This will immobilize it and help prevent additional damage.

Fingernail Cleaner

Having dirt and other stuff under your fingernails can be both ugly and unsanitary. Use a bobby pin to remove everything you can. This will reduce the chances of it contaminating your food as you eat.

Taming Hair

Of course, a bobby pin can be used for its intended purpose of taming and styling hair. They can help keep your hair out of your eyes so you can focus on whatever else you need to be doing.

Pitting Cherries and Olives

Bobby pins also do a good job removing pits from cherries and olives. Stick the bobby pin in the cherry or olive and twist it when you feel the pit. Pull it back out and the pit should come with it.

Fish Hook

Bobby Pin Fish Hook

You can also use a bobby pin as a fish hook in a survival situation. Remove the knobs from the end of the bobby pin and cut it in half. Create a “J” bend at one end and create a closed loop on the other. You can sharpen the end to make it more effective. You won’t be able to catch a marlin, but you may be able to catch small fish.

Money Clip

If you have loose dollar bills, you can use a bobby pin as a money clip to keep them organized. Stack the bills together and fold them a couple of times. Slide the bobby pin onto them and it will keep them folded together.

Letter Opener

A bobby pin also works well as a letter opener. While it won’t be as pretty as using something sharp, it will definitely get the letter open.

Bag Clip

I don’t know how it is in your house, but I can never seem to find a bag clip when I need it. They are always already being used or hidden at the bottom of a drawer. In situations like this, you can use a bobby pin as a substitute bag clip. Fold the top of the bag over a couple of times and use the pin to keep the folds in place.

Awl or Scribe

Thicker bobby pins can work well as an awl or scribe. Cut the bobby pin in half. Then, sharpen the end of the straight side with a file or on a rock. You want to create a triangular-shaped point. You can use this to put holes in thick materials, such as canvas and leather. You can also use it as a scribe to create marks on tough materials.

Zipper Pull

Bobby Pin Zipper Pull

If your zipper pull breaks, a bobby pin makes a good substitute. Run it through the zipper’s slider and let the end of the bobby pin catch. You can then use it to easily move the zipper back and forth.

Holding Fabric

Bobby pins can also help you if you need to sew pieces of fabric together. Use them to hold the pieces of fabric as you sew. This will prevent them from moving while you are stitching.

Temporary Hem

You can also use bobby pins to create temporary hems on shirts and pants. This could be to repair a hem that fell apart as well as create a temporary hem to keep garments out of the way. You may want to do this to prevent them from getting wet or from getting caught in equipment or tools. Fold the garment and use the bobby pin to keep it in place.


Bobby pins can also help you do your laundry by acting as clothespins. If you are in a survival situation, you can dry your clothes by using some paracord and a couple of bobby pins. Hang the paracord between two trees or poles and use the bobby pins to secure your wet clothing to it. This also works on regular clotheslines as well.

Flip Flop Repair

I despise flip flops, but my wife loves them. She wore them all the time in college, and many times, wore them completely out. One of the most common ways for flip flops to break is for the strap to come loose from the bottom. Fortunately, a bobby pin can be used to fix this when it happens.

To repair your flip flop with a bobby pin, reinsert the loose portion of the strap back into its hole. Use the bobby pin to secure it to the bottom side of the shoe. This isn’t a permanent fix, but it should prevent you from having to walk barefoot back to your car.

Drawstring Repair

Drawstrings are great until you accidentally pull them all the way through the bag, jacket, or another item that they fit into. When this happens, use a bobby pin to help push the drawstring back into its hole.


You can also use a bobby pin as a spool to keep thread and cordage untangled and ready for use. They also fit nicely in most small sewing kits.

Belt Pouch Anchor

One problem with belt pouches and sheaths is that they slide all over your belt. The only thing that stops them is your belt loops. That always bugged me, so I started sliding a bobby pin over my belt to prevent the pouch from moving around. I place it so that the pouch is sandwiched between the bobby pin and a belt loop.

Gear Attachment

You can also use a bobby pin to secure small items to a pack. Run the bobby pin through the item and an attachment point, such as MOLLE webbing, on your pack. Then twist the end of the bobby pin to close it.

Belt Keeper

A bobby pin also works well to secure the end of a belt that is too long. Slide it over the belt so that it holds the loose end to the main part of the belt.

Electronic Reset

If you have an electronic device that goes haywire but you don’t have any way to reset it, a bobby pin can help. Use the bobby pin to press down the small reset button and you should be good to go.

Short Circuit

Bobby pins are made of metal, which means that they can conduct electricity. You can use this to your advantage if you need to short circuit something. Just be sure you don’t electrocute yourself or cause an unwanted fire. Also, don’t plan on being able to use that bobby pin again.

Cord Wrapper

You can also use a bobby pin to keep small cords organized. Slide one end of the cord all the way into the bobby pin. Wrap the rest of the cord around it and then slide the other end of the cord into the bobby pin’s opening. This should help keep the cord from unraveling.

Ear Bud Keeper

Survival Uses of Bobby Pins: Ear bud keeper

You can also use a bobby pin to keep your earbuds in place. Slide the bobby pin onto your shirt or jacket and then slide the earbud cord into the pin. Be sure to allow some slack between the bobby pin and your ears. This will prevent the cord from working its way down and pulling the earbuds out.

Zip Tie Shim

Zip ties can be difficult to cut if you don’t have the right tools or you may just want to save it for use later on. You can use a bobby pin as a shim to loosen a zip tie. Remove the plastic end of the bobby pin and use the tip to press the locking tab down. This will allow you to pull the body of the zip tie out of the lock. This works well on larger zip ties.

Lock Picks

Bobby pins can make excellent lock picks if you use them right and practice. To do this, you will need two bobby pins. The first one will be used to keep tension on the lock. This will allow the pins inside the lock to stay out of the way once you move them with the other bobby pin. Placing a 90-degree bend in the first bobby pin to make it easier to use. This is your tension wrench.

You will use the second bobby pin to move the pins inside the lock. Start by straightening the pin and removing the plastic from the end. Create a 60-70-degree bend at one end. This will create what is known as a “rake”. This is what you will use to manipulate the pins inside of the lock.

Insert the tension wrench into the bottom of the keyhole. This is where the flat part of the key goes in. Turn it slightly in the direction that the lock should turn and keep the tension. Next insert the rake and use a back and forth motion to move the pins. The lock should open.

*Note: This does take some practice to master. 

Tape Saver

Using tape without a tape gun can be very frustrating, especially when dealing with clear tape. Once the end falls back onto the main part of the roll, finding the end can be almost impossible. A bobby pin can make this much easier and help you avoid a tape-induced psychological meltdown. 

Place it on the sticky side of the loose end of the tape. This will help you keep track of the end of the tape and make it easier to peel back up.

Pick Hair From Pipes

My wife has beautiful, thick, hair. It is wonderful to look at but can freeze a drain fast. Bobby pins can be used to remove hair from drains. This will get them flowing like they should and can help prevent the hair from working its way further down the pipe. Clogs are much easier to deal with if they are at the top of the drain than they are further down.

Form a Chain

You can use several bobby pins to create a chain. You could use the chain to hang items, such as small lights.

Paper Clip

Bobby pins are very similar to paper clips. Because of this, they work very well to hold loose papers and keep them organized.


The same things that make a bobby pin a good paper clip also make it a good bookmark as well. Slide the bobby pin onto the page you were reading to make it easier to find the next time you pick up your book.

Nail Holder

Many people have experienced the agony of having a hammer instantly turn their finger or thumb purple because they missed a nail and hit themselves instead. A bobby pin can help avoid this problem. 

Slide the nail into the bobby pin and use the pin as a handle for the nail. This will keep your thumb and fingers away from the hammer while still maintaining control of the nail as you start it.


If you need to remove a small screw, you can use a bobby pin to help get it started. Insert the bobby pin into the screw head’s slot. If the bobby pin is too thick, spread it out and just use one side. This works well on flathead screws that are not countersunk.

Glasses Screwdriver

For many people, glasses are an essential part of their everyday lives. They would literally be lost without them. Having a lens pop out during a survival situation could be life-threatening if they couldn’t get them fixed.

Fortunately, if you have a bobby pin, you have a glasses screwdriver. Remove the plastic end of the pin and then use the exposed end to secure the tiny flathead screw back in place.

Cotter Pin

Survival Uses for bobby pins

A bobby pin is very similar in design to a cotter pin. Cotter pins are used in various items to prevent larger pins from working their way out of a hole. Slide the bobby pin into the hole that would normally contain the cotter pin and spread out its ends. This will keep the bobby pin in place along with the other pin it is securing.

*Note: Don’t use this hack on large items or those that could kill someone if the pin failed. An example of this would be tow hitches.

Cleaning Pick

If you are cleaning your guns or if you just need to fish a piece of fuzz out of a keyboard, a bobby pin can make a suitable cleaning pick. When dealing with electronics, keep the plastic end on the pin and be careful to not create a short circuit. For cleaning things like guns and mechanical equipment, the plastic can be removed so you can use the bobby pin to scrape as well.


If you need to work with glue, grease, or some other messy substance, a bobby pin can help you keep your hands clean. Dip the pin into the container and then use it to apply the glue, grease, or whatever else directly where you need it.

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