• Top 10 Best Cotton Swabs in 2020 (Q-tips, Sky Organics, and More) 1
  • Top 10 Best Cotton Swabs in 2020 (Q-tips, Sky Organics, and More) 2
  • Top 10 Best Cotton Swabs in 2020 (Q-tips, Sky Organics, and More) 3
  • Top 10 Best Cotton Swabs in 2020 (Q-tips, Sky Organics, and More) 4
  • Top 10 Best Cotton Swabs in 2020 (Q-tips, Sky Organics, and More) 5

Top 10 Best Cotton Swabs in 2020 (Q-tips, Sky Organics, and More)

Ever felt the annoyance of using a cotton swab and having the stem or tip break? It may be a small matter, but having reliable and sturdy cotton swabs are a daily necessity. Whether you use them for makeup, cleaning, or first aid, having the best cotton swabs on hand can make life a little easier. 

So, we searched the internet for the best cotton swabs that reviewers love. The Antimicrobial Cotton Swabs from Q-Tips are our favorite! These swabs are soft, made of biodegradable materials, and anti-microbial. We've compiled nine more equally worthwhile swabs to consider on our top 10 list. From there, you'll also find a buying guide to help you sort through your cotton swab options. 

This article's specialists

Julia Miller
  • Last updated: 12-09-2020
Table of Contents

Top 10 Best Cotton Swabs

We've looked through Amazon and picked out the best cotton swabs with varying lengths and tip shapes for you to consider. We've also included common pros and cons from customer reviews to help you with your decision. 


Q-tipsAntimicrobial Cotton Swabs

2 pack


Pieces300 per pack
Length3 in.
Spindle materialRolled paper
HighlightsAnti-microbial, biodegradable

Sky OrganicsOrganic Cotton Swabs


Length3 in.
Spindle materialRolled paper
HighlightsHypoallergenic, certified organic, cruelty-free

Johnson's BabySafety Swabs


Length3 in.
Spindle materialPlastic
HighlightsEar-safe bulb, chlorine-free

Tifanso6-Inch Cotton Swabs

3 pack


Pieces100 per pack
Length6 in.
Spindle materialWood

Cotton TooOrganic Cotton Swabs

2 pack


Pieces500 pieces per pack
Length4 in.
Spindle materialRolled paper
HighlightsCertified organic, made with virgin cotton fibers, cruelty-free

EcoFoxBamboo Cotton Swabs

2 pack


Pieces500 per pack
LengthApprox 3 in.
Spindle materialBamboo
HighlightsCruelty-free, recyclable and biodegradable packaging

DynarexSterile Cotton Tipped Applicators

2 pack


Pieces100 per box
Length6 in.
Spindle materialBirchwood
HighlightsBiodegradable, sterile, individually-wrapped

CoralovBamboo Cotton Swabs


Length3 in.
Spindle materialBamboo
HighlightsBlack tips, biodegradable, hypoallergenic

TifansoCotton Swabs


Length3 in.
Spindle materialRolled paper
HighlightsSpiral tip, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic

Last SwabReusable Cotton Swabs


Length3 in.
Spindle materialNylon
HighlightsReusable, comes with case, double-tipped

Compare the Best Cotton Swabs

Q-tips Antimicrobial Cotton Swabs 1


Sky Organics Organic Cotton Swabs 1

Sky Organics

Johnson's Baby Safety Swabs 1

Johnson's Baby

Tifanso 6-Inch Cotton Swabs 1


Cotton Too Organic Cotton Swabs 1

Cotton Too

EcoFox Bamboo Cotton Swabs 1


Dynarex Sterile Cotton Tipped Applicators 1


Coralov Bamboo Cotton Swabs 1


Tifanso Cotton Swabs 1


Last Swab Reusable Cotton Swabs 1

Last Swab


Antimicrobial Cotton Swabs

Organic Cotton Swabs

Safety Swabs

6-Inch Cotton Swabs

Organic Cotton Swabs

Bamboo Cotton Swabs

Sterile Cotton Tipped Applicators

Bamboo Cotton Swabs

Cotton Swabs

Reusable Cotton Swabs


Reliable, Soft Swabs With Anti-Microbial Qualities

Medical-Grade Organic Swabs

Baby-Safe Cotton Swabs

Long and Durable Swabs

Swabs Made With Virgin Cotton Fibers

Multi-Use Bamboo Cotton Swabs

Wrapped Sterile Cotton Swabs

Tightly-Packed Black Bamboo Swabs

Double-Tipped Cotton Swabs With a Spiral Head

A Reusable Swab Made of Medical-Grade Silicone

Pieces300 per pack500185100 per pack500 pieces per pack500 per pack100 per box2002001
Length3 in.3 in.3 in.6 in.4 in.Approx 3 in. 6 in.3 in.3 in.3 in.
Spindle materialRolled paperRolled paperPlasticWoodRolled paperBambooBirchwoodBambooRolled paperNylon
HighlightsAnti-microbial, biodegradableHypoallergenic, certified organic, cruelty-freeEar-safe bulb, chlorine-free-Certified organic, made with virgin cotton fibers, cruelty-freeCruelty-free, recyclable and biodegradable packagingBiodegradable, sterile, individually-wrappedBlack tips, biodegradable, hypoallergenicSpiral tip, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, hypoallergenicReusable, comes with case, double-tipped

How to Choose Cotton Swabs - Buying Guide

Whether you're using the cotton swabs for grooming, cleaning electronics, applying makeup, or for arts and crafts, there are a few considerations to remember. For example, the material and design of the spindle and head. Our buying guide below will explain the points you should keep in mind! 

Check the Tip and Spindle Material

The head and stem (or "spindle") of a cotton swab affect the swab's durability, safety, and effectiveness.

Choose Among Wood, Paper or Plastic Spindles

Choose Among Wood, Paper or Plastic Spindles

Most cotton swabs are made with wood (usually bamboo), rolled paper, or extruded plastic. Wood is the most durable of the three, while plastic is the most bendable. The ideal material depends on what you'll use the swabs for.

The spindle's length is also vital if you will be using the swabs for purposes like personal hygiene, makeup application, arts and crafts, or cleaning. Regular swabs are often three inches long, giving you great control for cleaning ears, whether they're for babies, adults, or even pets. 

Meanwhile, you can get longer stems that are about six inches long, which are great for cleaning electronic devices, reaching inaccessible crevices, or for arts and crafts. Swabs for arts and crafts are often made with wood stems for greater rigidity.

Pick Cotton Tips for the Best Absorbency

Pick Cotton Tips for the Best Absorbency

Tips are often made with cotton due to its absorbent properties. The fiber is also strong enough to not disintegrate during use. Furthermore, it’s economical to produce. 

Other types of swabs are made with rayon, a synthetic spun fiber made from wood pulp, or Dacron, a polyester fabric sourced from petroleum-based chemicals. These are mostly used for medical purposes, such as specimen collection.

Consider the Tip Design

Consider the Tip Design

The tip of the cotton swab will affect the item's use. For example, round swabs are for ear cleaning, as well as other purposes. However, you can also find swabs with a spiral shape that prevents the tip from accidentally going too deep into the ear canal, while swabs for babies have a bulb shape to ensure optimal protection.

You can get cotton swabs with a more pointed tip if you're working with fine detailing such as makeup application or art. Other designs include a nubbed head, making it easier for the swab to pick up dirt and debris while cleaning.

It may seem out of the ordinary, but you can also find black cotton swabs. While these are made with the same materials, the black color makes it easier to distinguish what it picks up.

Keep in Mind Environmental Factors

Cotton swabs are meant to be disposable. However, this does lead to a lot of trash. This waste is worse if the stem is made with plastic, which takes a long time to break down. Fortunately, there are ways to use cotton swabs while keeping the environment in mind.

Biodegradable Options are Available

Biodegradable Options are Available

There are some manufacturers, like the Q-tip brand, that produce 100 percent biodegradable cotton swabs. The bud is made with pure cotton, while the applicator is made of paperboard and bonded paper. You can compost those cotton swabs.

If you want to use disposable items that don’t contribute to trash buildup, they are ways to reduce your environmental impact. We recommend choosing brands that put extra focus on being environmentally-friendly, such as The Humble Co. and LastSwab. These brands may use sustainable sources or less packaging

You can also check if the applicator is made of paper, as paper is biodegradable by default. On the other hand, plastic is obviously not.

Go for a Refillable Case for Home Use

Go for a Refillable Case for Home Use

If you're planning on supplying your household with a cotton swab station, then the case should be durable and hygienic.

A cotton swab case made of hard plastic, although not easily recycled, is multi-use. You can purchase refills and reuse the case. We recommend one with a removable cover or closure that keeps the casing closed when not in use. This helps keep dust and dirt from accumulating near the buds.

When choosing a refill, it's best to go for one made with recyclable packaging to limit excess trash.

Get Acquainted With Reusable Swabs to Avoid Single-Use Trash

Get Acquainted With Reusable Swabs to Avoid Single-Use Trash

Cotton swabs have always had the reputation of being a one-time use item, but there are reusable cotton swabs available on the market today. These are mainly made from silicone and come with their own storage case for safekeeping. 

You can use the swabs for makeup and even ear cleaning. You can wash and reuse these, making them the most environmentally-friendly option.

Grab Your Daily Hygiene Essentials

Grab Your Daily Hygiene Essentials

Looking for the best hygiene products to stay clean and fresh? Check out our favorites below! 


Now you know all about how to choose cotton (and silicone) swabs that will keep up with your daily needs. These may be items that we don't often put much thought into, yet they have proven essential for multiple uses. 

Make sure to consider the size, shape, and material, and you'll be able to confidently pick the ideal cotton swabs for you!

Author: Hana Otsuka

More Expert-Recommended Hygiene Products to Love

If you're big on the environment and staying clean, consider getting a silicone shower brush! This one recommended by sustainability and travel advocate Julia Miller is soft, gentle, and durable.


Cherish teaSilicone Shower Brush


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