18 New, Everyday Uses For Cotton Buds - Not To Be Missed!

18 New, Everyday Uses For Cotton Buds - Not To Be Missed!

Now it's been discovered we shouldn't actually be using cotton buds to clean out our ears, what exactly should we use them for?

Their compact shape and combination of stiff stick and soft tip make them an ideal tool for so many things.

From arts and crafts, to cleaning and beauty hacks, there's plenty of ways you can learn to love these bathroom essentials all over again, without putting them anywhere near your ears.

1. Perfect your lip line

Applying Clinique chubby stick with cotton bud
Get the perfect pout.

Ahh...there's nothing like opening a brand new lipstick and revelling in its perfect, untouched and easily-applicable pointed shape.

Unfortunately, it doesn't stay like that for long, and becomes much more difficult to apply when worn down.

When this does happen, don't despair - you can use a cotton bud to apply your lipstick, ensuring you get a defined, precise result every time. This method will also mean you can use up every last bit of lipstick, making your favourite shades last longer.

2. Nail your nail varnish

There's nothing worse than trying to fix a nail varnish mistake with a cotton wool pad, taking off half of your nail and having to start over.

Here's where you're going wrong - you should be using a cotton bud instead. These can easily be dipped into nail polish remover for accurate nail polish removal, making mistakes much easier to remedy.

3. Use a cotton bud to volumise your eyelashes

Those beautiful ladies in the Maybelline mascara commercials don't half fill me with envy - how do they get their eyelashes looking so good?

While a makeup artist isn't something most of us have access to, there's a DIY cotton bud beauty hack that can rival their expertise:

Dip a cotton bud into powder and dust over your eyelashes before applying mascara. This will help thicken each one, resulting in a fuller set of lashes.

4. Use a cotton bud for face paint detailing

Are you a fan of face paint? Who isn't!

This childlike art can be more difficult than it looks, especially if you're after something more complex than a bunny rabbit.

A small, delicate cotton bud will make all your face painting dreams a reality - use them for applying dots, thin lines, and even blending for results that will have all the adults jealous!

5. Use a cotton bud to clean your keyboard

Cleaning keyboard with q-tip
The perfect size for polishing in between keys.

Stop what you're doing, hold your keyboard upright, and give it a tap on your desk - how much dust and dirt you see tumbling out of it will disgust you.

If that's how much that came out with a simple shake, imagine how much is hiding deep down in the crevices between the keys?

You can prevent this build up of germs by using a cotton bud to swipe in between the ridges of keys. The tip is compact enough to get into crevices, and the 'wool' will lift dirt easily.

6. Get those tiny tootsies clean

Our little bundles of joy are even cuter when they're spick and span.

Get your baby clean from head to toe - quite literally - by using a cotton bud to clean between their tiny toes.

You may not think you'd find much dirt down there, but you'll be surprised what they manage to pick up on their adventures!

7. A cotton bud can be used to treat spots

Spot breakout? I feel your pain, but don't panic, you've got this.

Take a clean cotton bud and dip it into some tea tree oil. Gently dab this onto a clean face in the offending areas, and leave it to work its magic. No squeezing, no messing, this simple beauty hack is all you need.

8. Precise cleaning of cuts and scrapes

Whilst getting deep into a cut to clean it may not sound particularly appealing, it is essential for a healthy healing process.

A cotton bud is the perfect tool for getting into minor cuts and scrapes, as it's not only small, but soft enough to not cause too much discomfort. Just make sure it's hygienic by using only a clean cotton bud, dipped in antiseptic.

9. Go dotty for spotty painting

Sometimes, a simple spot print is all you need.

While a symmetrical blob can be surprisingly difficult to create with a paintbrush, use a cotton bud, and you'll be able to cover your paper in a pretty print in no time.

Another great creative use for cotton buds is as mini paintbrushes for small hands. No only are they a much more manageable size, but, unlike standard paintbrushes, they're not prone to that 'flicking' that often leads to your little ones redecorating the whole room, as well as their paper.

10. Get your glasses gleaming

Clean glasses with a cotton bud
Glasses that fancy deserve cleaning often.

Splashed out on some sophisticated lenses? Give them the care they deserve with a regular cleaning routine.

Cotton buds are the perfect size and soft enough to be used on even the most delicate of frames. Use them to get under nose pads, around screws on straps, and between the glass and lenses themselves to keep your glasses looking lovely and lasting longer.

11. Use a cotton bud to touch up beauty mistakes

'Cat-eyes' rarely happen without at least one mistake (or ten).

There's no need to wipe your whole eye masterpiece off and start over every time your hand slips.

With the help of a cotton bud, dipped into some liquid makeup remover, you can wipe off even the smallest of smudges without affecting the whole area of your face.

12. Cotton buds are great for cleaning piercings

A newly pierced ear requires a fair bit of care - you may have been told to clean it twice a day until it heals.

This is an essential process to avoid infection, and one of the easiest ways to do it is using a cotton bud dipped in salt solution.

You can also try tea tree oil for piercings. Read our other article to learn more!

13. Perfectly patch up blemishes

A natural, everyday makeup look can be difficult to master especially if you're used to something more full on.

One of my favourite beauty tips is, rather than applying foundation all over, to opt for something lighter like a BB cream. I then take a cotton bud, and dab it into my foundation, covering only small blemishes or discolourations, rather than my entire face.

This gives a much lighter, more effortless result, perfect for every day wear - plus, your foundation will last longer.

14. Clean out your ear...phones

cleaning headphones with cotton bud
Yikes! Look at all that dirt.

Are your songs suddenly sounding less sensational? This could be caused by your headphones, which have probably begun to accumulate grime.

A quick fix for this is to use a cotton bud to clean out the ear piece. It will lift out a surprising amount of dirt you didn't even know existed, giving you a clear, crisp sound and getting your favourite tunes sounding fab again.

15. Clean out car air conditioning

Air conditioning can be such a relief, especially on a hot summers day. However, leave dust to build up in the vents and they'll not only stop working as effectively, but they'll also end up filling the air with dust - not so refreshing.

Every month or so, be sure to do a 'deep clean' of these vents, using a cotton bud to clear out any grime and dust hiding inside.

This is particularly important for people with dust allergies, so if this is you, consider cleaning them more often.

16. Cotton buds can help you apply falsies

I always struggle with falsies - the flimsy nature of them, and the unmanageable glue bottle are not something I cope well with.

Using a cotton bud to apply them has made life much easier for me. The trick is to apply the glue to the q-tip before lining the lashes. This helps to prevent over application and a messy result, meaning you're almost guaranteed perfect results.

17. Get jewellery shining brightly again

I'm not a big jewellery wearer, but what I do have, I like to keep looking sparkly.

One of the easiest ways to do this without going to a professional, is - you guessed it- using a cotton bud. The soft texture help to buff up the metallic surface, also lifting dirt out of the tiny crevices.

18. Cotton buds make the perfect nail art tool

cotton bud with Rimmel nail varnish
Step this way for dotty nail art creations.

Always wanted to go that extra mile with your nail art, but no idea where to start?

A cotton bud is the perfect nail art tool for someone looking to take their amateur nail look to the next level. They're perfect for blending and precise applying that - with a bit of practise - will rival the designs of any pro.

I hope I've filled you with new ideas for ways to use your cotton buds. If you've got any of your own, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

Stephanie C


Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

Follow me on X
  1. Author Pauline on March 2, 2017 at 11:16 am

    I use cotton buds to clean those difficult area's around the toilet seat. I dip the cotton bud in the disinfectant then clean around the joins of the toilet seat, at the back where the lid joins the seat as well as around the fittings of the toilet seat, top and bottom.

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 3, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      Hi Pauline :) Wow, that sounds like a thorough clean! I bet your bathroom is spotless. Good job?

  2. Author Sandy on March 2, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Love the ideas - though I'm not into false lashes or nail art. Cotton buds might be banned from using in your ears now - but they are brilliant for cleaning your navel!

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 3, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Sandy! Neither am I these days - too fiddly for me. :)

  3. Author VALERIE on March 2, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    also good for touching small cuffs on paintwork

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 3, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Hi Valerie! :) That's a great tip, thanks a lot for sharing it with us.

  4. Author PJL on March 3, 2017 at 12:14 am

    I find cotton buds useful for cleaning those awkward tiny areas. They are really handy when cleaning around those tiny corners of the toilet seat , like where the lid is attached to the seat itself. I also find them really useful for cleaning ornaments. Cotton buds are safer on those really delicate areas of ornaments, I dip the cotton bud into a solution of Dettol and warm water then I use the tip to spruce up those difficult areas without causing any damage,

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 3, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      Hi there :) They are great for reaching small spaces, you're right! Thanks for sharing the tips.

  5. Author Lesley Reeves on March 3, 2017 at 11:13 am

    They can be used to clean the grooves on the dispenser drawer on washing machines - the amount of gunk that gets in there is horrifying!

    1. Author Stephanie C on March 3, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Lesley :) Yuck! I normally complain about not having a washing machine, but that description has made me think I might be better off without one! Thanks for the tip?

  6. Author Eveln on December 31, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    I read an article which said cotton buds are now banned because of the plastic stick Can still get them probably while shops have stock but after that ??

    1. Author Joanne A on March 30, 2021 at 4:14 pm

      Hi Eveln! I think it just means that plastic ones won't be available. You should still be able to get the cardboard type.

  7. Author Marolyn Berry on April 4, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    I use them to clean between keys on keyboard and also between numbers on house phone.

    1. Author Joanne A on April 16, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Great ideas!

  8. Author Andrew Gallant on October 11, 2021 at 9:46 am

    Hi, interesting tips here. BUT, regular cotton buds are a major pollutant due to their plastic stems. Try and use biodegradeable bamboo-stemmed buds instead.

    1. Author Joanne A on September 15, 2022 at 12:13 pm

      Great tip! I think most of the plastic stem ones have been phased out now.

  9. Author susan bowden on October 9, 2022 at 1:56 pm

    people who use these to clean toilet seats - I unscrew and take off the seat and clean it with an old kitchen sponge and a disinfectant solution (I use Zoflora or similar). I leave it for 10 minutes or so and rinse it off using the showerhead. You can clean the screws and screwholes as well - they get missed otherwise, and are usually filthy! I only do this when it gets dirty enough to use cotton buds.

    1. Author Joanne A on October 10, 2022 at 9:47 am

      Great advice! Thanks, Susan.


Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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