Cotton swab

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Cotton swabs (American English) or cotton buds (British English) consist of one or two small wads of cotton wrapped around one or both end(s) of a short rod made of wood, rolled paper or plastic. They are commonly used in a variety of applications including first aid, cosmetics application, cleaning, and arts and crafts.


The traditional cotton swab has a single tip on a wooden handle, and these are still often used, especially in medical settings. They are usually relatively long, about 15 cm. These often are packaged sterile, one or two to a paper or plastic sleeve.

Cotton swabs manufactured for home use are usually shorter, about 7.6 cm long, and usually double-tipped. The handles were first made of wood, then made of rolled paper and now plastic. They are often sold in large quantities, 100 or more to a container. Plastic swab stems exist in a wide variety of colors, such as blue, pink or green.


Cotton swabs can be bought from most stores. Can also be found online.

DIY Cotton swab

Take a stick or a toothpick and firmly wrap some cotton at one or both ends.


  • Cleaning
  • Collecting DNA
  • Collect microbiological samples


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