17 Uncommon Uses for Cotton Swabs

cotton swabs

In the field of cleaning ears, no household item is relied upon more than cotton swabs. The swabs, tipped with cotton sheets, are built to remove earwax and dirt, which results in better hearing. You probably have a constantly renewed stock in your bathroom, given their usefulness. Reliable as the accessory is, cleaning ears is only one of its many functions. You might be surprised with the amount of things you can do with such a simple item.

The cotton swab, with its distinct features, is a pretty versatile item. Its small size, thin frame and light weight make it a good item for assembling decorative structures. It can also fit into hard-to-reach areas, given its shape and size. You can even use the swab for applying makeup, paint and stuff used for making tiny intricate patterns. With its numerous functions, you can consider the cotton swab your skeleton key for small scale applications. So without further ado, here are 17 uncommon uses for q-tips.

face paint1. Face Paint Applicator - Face paint, bearing intricate patterns, requires an applicator with a small tip. A paintbrush is the standard instrument used, but in its absence, you can substitute it with a cotton swab. Given its thin and compact tips, the swab creates fine lines and markings, perfect for face painting. It can even rival the patterns made by paintbrushes when handled by an exceptional artist. So with a bundle of cotton swabs and a bottle of paint, you can turn anyone’s face into an intricate masterpiece. (Tips on how to make a face paint)

2. Emergency Supply of Perfume - The scent of perfume eventually fades after a few hours. If you’re going to a formal affair or an important meeting, you will need more of that scent to make a good impression. You, instead of bring a bulky perfume bottle, can spray perfume on the tips of a few cotton swabs and seal them in a ziplock bag. The scent stored by the swabs lasts for several hours, or even for the entire day, depending on your perfume’s concentration. Just apply the swabs on your pressure points and you’ll smell like a summer blossom.

3. Makeshift Soil for Fake Plants - Fake plants look elegant when placed on a brown buffet table or on your furniture cabinet. To highlight the appearance of the plastic-based shrubs, you can use a pile of cotton swabs as their support. Set them inside a small pot then arrange the fake plants above them. You can also paint the swabs, so they will match the plants’ and the pot’s appearance.

4. Cotton Swab Snowflakes - If you think paper snowflakes look stylish, you have not tried making a snowflake using cotton swabs. Design a cool snowflake pattern. When you have finalized the design, arrange a handful of snowflakes to create the pattern. Apply glue on the swabs then wrap them in waxed paper. Once the glue dries, check if the structure will hold up. Add more glue, if necessary. Apply glitter on your snowflake, so it will have a sparkling effect.

5. Makeup Remover - The cotton swab appears like a slightly enlarged toothpick, which means it can reach your face’s most minuscule contours. When washing your face, use moistened q-tips to scrape off makeup from your eyelids, nose and forehead. Removing makeup will be much faster than using a cloth, a face towel or your bare hands.

removing make-up

6. Zipper Loosener - The line that separates a fine moment from a pretty embarrassing one is the state of your jeans’ zipper. A stuck zipper will give you unwanted exposure until you fix the sealing application. Remedy the situation by using olive oil and a cotton swab. Apply some olive oil on the swab’s tips then rub them on your zipper’s teeth. After awhile, your zipper will loosen. Align the teeth properly to finally fix things.

7. The Retouching Tool - When putting on makeup, some people tend to neglect the tiny details, especially if they are in a hurry. They are left with an uneven spot on their face or an oddly colored bit on their lips. If you have some q-tips, you should have no problems retouching your makeup. Get a q-tip and moisten its tip with one or two drops of water. Run it on the sharp and faded portions until they even out. Do the same for your lipstick. When you exit the powder room, you’ll be back to looking like a winner.

8. Swab Darts - Swab darts is a parlor game that can be played at birthday parties and company events. To play it, hang or set a group of paper plate targets in one corner. Prepare a straw and a few cotton swabs for each player. The players will then be grouped and lined up in front of their corresponding targets. For every round, each of them will get a chance to hit the target by blowing a cotton swab through the straw. One point is awarded every time the target is hit. The team with the most number of points at the end of the round wins.

9. Henna Tattoo Applicator - Applying a henna tattoo requires precision, given the tiny intricate patterns most tattoos have. Without the normal applicator, you can use a cotton swab in its place. The swab’s tip can produce thin lines that will eventually form complex tattoo patterns. For large designs, you can use the tips’ sides to produce bold lines and thick markings.

henna tattoo

10. Lighter for Candles with Short Wicks - Lighting a candle with a really short wick is not easy. A lighter’s flame will have a hard time reaching it while using matches may only burn your hands, not the wick. A good way to solve this problem is to use a cotton swab, with one if its ends burning, for lighting the candle. Douse the swab’s tip with alcohol then ignite it using a lighter. Set the burning tip atop the candle, which will burn some of the wax and eventually light the wick.

11. Diorama Material - The diorama, being a created or recreated scene inside a container, needs a plethora of small materials that will stand for people and environments. With its small size, the cotton swab certainly makes the grade as a diorama material. You can use it as a miniature lamp post, a pathway or a makeshift baton. Color the toiletry item accordingly, so your diorama will look realistic.

12. Collage Material - Collages are made from a group of pictures and small materials, arranged to form a single image. The cotton swab comes as one of the unconventional items that you can use. You can bend it to form a letter or arrange several pieces to create figures. With much creativity, you can even use the q-tip as the centerpiece of your collage.

13. Keyboard Cleaner - A keyboard’s keys may get jammed if they are not cleaned from time to time. The problem is, removing dirt in-between keys is quite challenging. Rags and brushes simply can’t fit to displace dirt and foreign objects. If you have some q-tips on hand, your problems are over. Dip the cotton swab in a vinegar-water solution then use it to clean your keyboard’s every crevice. (see how to get rid of dirt in your keyboard)

14. Washing Machine Screen Cleaner - The filter used by washing machines need cleaning occasionally, otherwise dirt will simply return to your clothing. You can use a cotton swab to remove particles from the screen. Given its small size, it can fit into the gaps and displace the dirt collected, keeping your washing machine’s cleaning efficiency at a favorable level.

15. The House of Swabs - A house made from cotton swabs is, by all means, a fine creation. Just like the toothpick home, you have to arrange a handful of swabs to form the miniature house. Connect the q-tips using superglue or any strong adhesive, so it will hold up for long periods. When it is done, you can submit it as an art project or use it as a decorative piece in your room.

jewelry16. Jewelry Cleaner - Jewelry pieces have a multitude of tiny contours, which can’t be reached by cloth or a brush. To clean these fine accessories, you can dip a q-tip in a cleaning solution. Use it to scrape off dirt, particles and stains from your necklaces and bracelets. The swab’s thin ends, along with their cotton-covered surfaces, can access your jewelry’s tiniest corners.

17. Skeleton - Looking for a cool Halloween decoration? Instead of purchasing the pricey items found at the toy store, you can just create a skeleton made from cotton swabs. Arrange dozens of the ear-cleaning instruments to form a human skeleton. Attach them to one another using a strong adhesive. Once created, hang the skeleton in front of your home. People will then marvel at your wonderful creation.

According to some doctors, using the q-tip to clean ears may be harmful if there are large deposits of earwax stored. A visit to your physician is recommended for that endeavor. So does this information affect cotton swab sales? Probably not much, given the number of the q-tip’s alternative uses. Its list of functions continues to grow, as more devices and activities are introduced each year.

4 Comments so far

  1. rudolph on January 12th, 2009

    nice article. love your site.

  2. visitor on January 12th, 2009

    interesting article

  3. How to Get Six Pack Fast on April 15th, 2009

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  4. youlki22 on May 22nd, 2009

    I was really amazed to see so many uses of cotton swabs which we usually throw away. As an art/craft teacher I enjoy making crafts with trash or recycled material. Thanks for your posts and ideas.

    As a tribute to this blog, read the review of this blog at my site: <a href=”http://www.hobbiesandhobbies.info/2009/05/life-hackery-nice-blog-with-useful-tips.html/”<LIfe Hackery- a nice blog with useful tips and hacks

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