I'm ashamed to admit how many Q-tips I've used in my lifetime. Swabbing my ears has been a habit since I can remember, even though my grandfather, a family physician, said that you should never put anything in your ear that's smaller than your elbow.
Turns out he was right, and most doctors agree that swabbing your ears actually may do you more harm than good. You run the risk of poking a hole in your eardrum, and you may actually be removing wax that your ear needs in order to protect itself from infection. So as much as I may love the feeling of swabbing my ears, I concede that from a health standpoint it's actually better not to. (If you're still grossed out by the idea of wax buildup in your ear, Greatist offers this solution.)
But I also use Q-tips for makeup, especially tidying up around my eyes, and for nail care. I'd love to tell you that I've always used Q-tips with a cardboard post, but that's not even true. I know I've used plastic without giving it a second thought, and I shudder to think how many of those little guys are now hanging out in a landfill somewhere waiting to decompose.
I was on a work trip recently, and I realized I'd forgotten to bring any Q-tips with me, and I literally had a mild panic attack. I rely on them to make my eyebrows look perfect, and eyebrows are the most important facial feature! I ended up digging around in my makeup bag for an old one (gross, I know) and ended up finding an old plastic sponge eyeshadow applicator that came out of a multi-color eyeshadow pack. I had never used it so it was (relatively) clean, so I dipped the end in some water and it ended up being the perfect tool for cleaning up my brows.
It got the wheels turning. What other tools could I find or fashion to take the place of Q-tips so that I don't have to chuck them away every day, and even better, so that I don't have to buy them at all?
You know how when you get a manicure, the technician will wrap a piece of loose cotton around an orange wood stick and dip it in polish remover to clean up around the edges? Well, you can do the same thing at home, and use it like a Q-tip with the same result. And, guess what? Both the orange wood stick and the cotton are compostable and bio-degradable.
Another added benefit to ditching Q-tips: less clutter on your bathroom counter top. I'm all about that!