Pure cotton is naturally absorbent and gentle. Gently cleans and dries in between baby’s fingers, toes and around the eyes, nose or outer ear.
The most common use for cotton swabs is to clean the ear canal by removing earwax. They are also handy for touching up nail polish that gets on the surrounding skin.
Pharmaceutical grade cotton swabs are necessary for medical applications. These medical grade swabs are rubbed onto or into the infected area, then wiped across the culture medium, such as an agar plate, where bacteria from the swab may grow.
A related area is the use of swabs for microbiological environmental monitoring
- Special brands of cotton swabs exist for this purpose, characterised by sturdier cotton heads and varied shapes of those heads.
- This use is problematic, as manufacturers differ in the binders they use to fix the cotton to the stem, affecting the outcome of the test.