What are Q-tips actually for?

Shutterstock.com/ Phadungsak photo
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I always thought that Q-tips were designed to clean your ears. I mean they are just the perfect size to allow you to hold and fit in your ear. I recently learned that not only were they not designed for this purpose but that they are actually incredibly dangerous if used in this way. Q-tips are more likely to push the wax of your ear further in than help in getting it out. If Q-tips aren’t for that then why does everyone have them in their home? Read on to find out why and as a bonus we will even tell you what the Q stands for.

Q-Tips came to life in 1923 when one man watched his wife in front of the mirror. He noticed how she would stick some cotton swabs to the end of a toothpick and although impressed by her ingenuity thought that this was something that should be a product available to buy. He quickly saw the market opportunity and launched his product. He named his product Baby Gays as his wife used the cotton swabs on the toothpick to help in many areas with cleaning and comforting a baby. The small swabs were useful in dealing with a small baby so the name made sense at the time.

After three years the company changed the name to Q-Tips Baby Gays and soon dropped the Baby Gays part. The Q was intended to highlight the quality of the product compared to copy cats that were starting to appear on the market. So Q of course stands for quality.
The next question is what are they actually good quality at doing? Not cleaning your ears we know that. Unless it is the outside of your ears, they would be good for that. Q tips are excellent for cleaning the small nooks and crannies of the body and the home. Whether you are desperate to get a piece of lint out of your belly button or to clean the inserts of a fan – Q-tips are excellent at getting into those hard to reach places.

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They are fantastic too for applying small amounts of lotion or ointment to the body. Often if you are applying a cream to an open wound or rash you want to avoid using your fingers as they may have some germs on them or the cream may be sensitive. Using a Q-tip will allow you to apply it without any of the cream ever touching your hands.

It is also fantastic for cleaning small items like jewellery. Again you can apply a small cleaner to the Q-tip and really attack the holes in a ring. A lot of people also use Q-tips to apply makeup. The small tip allows you to be really detailed in your application and for those makeup items that you often use a finger for the q-tip can give you that extra accuracy.

One thing that none of us do enough is to clean our keyboard. While there are many special tools you can buy that fit this purpose exactly, a Q-tip also works well. Built-up dirt can actually impact your computer performance so cleaning between the keys and near the battery will not only make your computer look better but it may perform better too.

One of the best uses that I have ever come across for a Q-tip is in lighting a candle. I am sure that you have owned a candle at some point that was impossible to light because once it burned down a little a normal match or lighter would no longer suffice? Simply light a Q-tip and then light the candle. Easy.

These are just a few of our favorite uses of the Quality-Tip. Let us know yours in the comments and if you still use them to clean your ears!