Alternatives to the Humble Cotton Swab aka Q-tip aka Cotton Bud

Another common single use item is the not so humble cotton swab, also called Q-tip and Cotton Bud (in Australia). These items are being used and disposed of in incredible numbers – a CBS News 2016 article had Unilever (just 1 manufacturer) producing 32 BILLION PER YEAR. But did you know that Q-tips should not be used to clean your ear? and that if you really need them for “non ear cleaning purposes” there are plastic free alternatives? and for those who really really must clean your ear then there are re-usable alternatives? So what are these alternatives to the cotton swab aka Q-tip aka cotton bud?

Note: this article is for everyday users not the medical community.

Why Q-tips Should Not Be Used To Clean Your Ear

The simple reason is because not only can it cause ear wax to build up (and ultimately require a doctor to remove) but you can perforate your ear drum.

No need to take my word for it, watch Doctor Voigt in the video below explain why you shouldn’t use Q-tips (aka cotton swabs aka cotton buds) to clean your ears. 

Plastic Free Q-tip Alternatives

Several plastic free alternatives are now available for Q-tips. The plastic in these Q-tips have been replaced with either recycled cardboard or bamboo. See below list for just a couple options of the many that are available:


Organyc – Organic Cotton Wool Buds


Go Bamboo


Re-usable Ear Cleaning Tools For Those Who Can’t Quit

For those of us who know that we aren’t meant to put anything bigger than an elbow in our ears but just can’t stand an itchy waxy ear, there is a re-usable alternative: the ear wax scraper aka ear cleaner. 

These devices have a hoop at the end and are for scraping (not pushing) the ear wax out. Note that there is still a risk of pushing wax into the ear and perforating the ear drum, but you can smile with the knowledge that you are saving money and the environment at the same time.

The above is an example from Ebay.


Would you like to know more?



You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read previous post:
Plastic Recycling Code – Which Plastic Codes Can Be Recycled in Australia

The varying codes on plastics can be confusing. But if there is a recycling symbol on the plastic then it...