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5 surprising household uses for cotton swabs

When Polish-immigrant Leo Gerstenzang topped a toothpick with a wad of cotton in the 1920s, do you think he imagined that his invention would become the major multi-taskers they are today? Here are a few ways cotton swabs can make your life healthier, cleaner and prettier.

1. Tuck into tight spots

Cotton swabs can be used to clean snug spots like faucets, in the grout of your kitchen and bathroom and in the crevices of the fridge, says Barbara Reich, owner of the NYC organizing firm Resourceful Consultants. Crusty corners, in particular, are no match for cotton swabs. Simply use a slightly dampened cotton swab, rolled to a point, to get the muck out of any impossible-to-reach places.

2. Get every last drop

The Survival Mom” blogger Lisa Bedford is devoted to being prepared for anything, from a natural disaster to the apocalypse (zombie or otherwise). To get every very last drop out of a makeup container, she suggests using a cotton swab, making it a great tool for lazy or thrifty shoppers.

3. DIY dream

A Beautiful Mess

In the right hands, cotton swabs can actually help create something gorgeous. Elsie Larson, blogger behind “A Beautiful Mess,” elevated a basic tea towel into a dotted delight using cotton swabs and craft paint. Find the tutorial here.

4. Clean your laptop

Lunching at your desk again? Dust, dirt and crumbs inevitably settle in the crevices of computers. The Survival Mom blogger Lisa Bedford suggests using cotton swaps dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently clean and sanitize in between the keyboard keys.

5. Treat acne with less mess.

Chances are that your favorite pimple fighter contains benzoyl peroxide, an effective blemish buster notorious for ruining any fabric it touches. By using a cotton swab to dot it on, you’re less likely to bleach your belongings or dry out the delicate skin surrounding the pimple. And, if you must pop said pimple, forgo using your germ-ridden fingers and press two cotton swabs on each side to coax the gunk out instead.

This was originally posted on Aug. 24, 2015.

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