As with other health and beauty items reimagined to help save the planet, the creation of a reusable Q-tip is meant to offer the same benefits as its single-use counterpart but as a zero-waste alternative. Not only are they an eco-friendly option, but they can also help buyers spend less money over time than they would continuously buying Q-tips they use once and throw away.
Millions of people (and the companies they support) are doing their part to eliminate single-use items like straws, plastic water bottles, grocery bags, and foam and plastic containers, all of which end up in landfills and pollute our environment. Reusable Q-tips are meant to help with this by allowing a person to buy once and reuse it after cleaning.
Reusable Q-tips are exactly like they sound — a Q-tip made of material that can be washed and reused multiple times. “Reusable q-tips are typically made out of silicone plastic, similar to a spatula, that can be washed between uses,” Inna Husain, MD, assistant professor of the department of otolaryngology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told The Healthy.
Reusable Q-tips are also safe to use, proving you wash them with a mild soap for at least 60 seconds and allow them to fully dry before using them. This ensures there is no bacteria building up that can find its way into your eyes, nose, or eardrum.
The Healthy reported that an Acute Market Report estimated 1.5 billion cotton swabs “are produced every day in the world and the average person throws away approximately 415 of them each year.” If you’re looking for a way to be more gentle on the environment and reduce your use of single-use items, reusable Q-tips are an easy place to start.
They are also safer than using cotton swabs to clean your ears. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should “never attempt to dig out excessive or hardened earwax with available items, such as a paper clip, a cotton swab or a hairpin. If earwax blockage becomes a problem, you or your doctor can take simple steps to remove the wax safely.” Reusable Q-tips are a safer option because there is less risk of anything breaking off and becoming lodged in your eardrum.
There are several reputable manufacturers of reusable Q-tips. The most well-known is Last Swab. They sell swabs that are sustainable — claiming they can replace 1,000 single-use cotton swabs. They are made from a nylon center with a flexible tip for easy use by people of all ages. They come in a biodegradable carrying case, so you can take them with you when you travel. They are easy to clean with soap and water and are also dishwasher safe.
Boeteco is another highly reviewed brand of reusable Q-tip that uses silicone and a medical-grade adhesive that boasts a ten-year life on its products. This one comes with two kits of four swabs each in different shapes and sizes depending on the task at hand. This also comes with a cleaning guide, so you know you’re taking good care of your investment.
Both are similar price points and are less than $12. With this sort of usability, you can check both out and see which you prefer.
Small changes add up. If you can start replacing single-use items and ones that end up in landfills, over time, it will make a big difference to the environment. Throwing away Q-tips means they end up in landfills, and flushing them (yes, people really do this) means they end up polluting our oceans. There is no good reason to use single-use items in general, so skip them in favor of products you can reuse. This goes for plastic grocery bags, plastic food baggies, straws, and other items that pollute the environment.
Buying reusable Q-tips will also help you save money over time. You won’t be rushing to the store every month to buy cotton swabs; just use, wash, and dry, and the options above are ready to be reused for the foreseeable future. Saving money while protecting our planet is always a winning combination.
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