Cotton balls don’t seem to get much attention in the “life hacks”world, but they’re good for more than just removing nail polish or disinfecting cuts. In fact, you might even be surprised at how many different ways these inexpensive little puffs of pure magic can make your life easier!
From keeping tiny little fingers from getting crushed by drawers to banishing hard-to-reach mildew, cotton balls are one of the most valuable life hack tools you’ll ever come across. Want proof? Then check out the 30 different reasons why you need a big bag of cotton balls in your life right now!
1. Take Aromatherapy To Go
Essential oils have exploded in popularity in recent years, and diffusing them into the air is one of the most common ways to reap their amazing health benefits. But, when you’re traveling, it’s just not practical to tote around a full-size diffuser everywhere you go.
That’s where cotton balls come into play! Just put a drop or two of essential oil onto a cotton ball, and you’ll have a mini-aromatherapy pack right in the palm of your hand.
2. Remove Pesky Pen Marks
Cotton balls and rubbing alcohol are must-haves in any first aid kit, but the two can also be used for fashion emergencies!
Did you frequently end up with annoying pen marks on your blouse after a hard day of adulting at the office? Just dab a soaked cotton ball onto the stain and watch those pen marks disappear for good!
3. Clean Handheld Devices
A rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton ball can also help dissolve the yucky dirt and grime that tends to settle into the cracks of handheld devices like TV remotes and computer mice.
4. Protect Jewelry While Traveling
Spread cotton balls around jewelry and other small delicate items to cushion them against damage while traveling. You can later reuse these cotton balls to clean the jewelry after use.
5. Disappear Those DIY Kid Tattoos!
Whether they do it on purpose or not (I vote for “on purpose”), kids are always getting ink marks all over themselves.
If you don’t have any rubbing alcohol on hand, you can dip a cotton ball in regular old cow’s milk to remove magic marker stains from their skin.
6. Best Smelling Garbage On The Block
Even if we take out the garbage every day, the trash bin can still acquire an “interesting” scent over time. But, that’s an easy problem to solve!
Just drop a couple of cotton balls soaked in lemon or tea tree essential oil onto the bottom of the trash can, underneath the garbage bag. It’ll help disinfect both the bin and the surrounding airspace all at the same time.
7. Stinky Fridge Fixer
Over time your refrigerator can take on some unusual smells. If you need an instant deodorizer and don’t want to wait for a box of baking soda to do the trick, grab a cotton ball and soak it in vanilla extract. Place it in the back corner of the fridge, and get ready to have a fresh-baked cookie smell greet you every time you open the door!
8. Separate Them Wee Lil’ Piggies!
Place a cotton ball between each toe to keep freshly painted nails from getting all caught up in each other’s business.
9. Natural Poison Ivy Relief
Drying out a poison ivy rash can help relieve some of the itching.
Soak a cotton ball in a cup of strong tea, then dab it over the affected area. Repeat as necessary until it feels better.
10. Clear Up Blemished Chrome Fixtures
Are the chrome fixtures in your kitchen or bathroom sporting some unsightly water mark stains?
Then try this: soak some cotton balls in a solution of equal parts water and vinegar, then place it on top of the stains for a few minutes. It’ll be clean and clear in no time!
11. Easy Air Freshener
Make a cute air freshener by placing a pretty glass dish filled with essential-oil soaked cotton balls in the bathroom. It’ll make your bathroom smell AND look good at the same time.
You can also place an essential-oil scented cotton ball in your dresser drawer to freshen it up.
12. Upgrade Your Carpet Freshener, Too
Carpet fresheners are full of chemicals, and if you have kids or pets, that’s the last thing you want is for them to rub their noses into it.
The next time you vacuum the carpet, place a cotton ball soaked in your favorite essential oil inside the vacuum bag. It’ll add a subtle scent to your home while you do chores.
13. Keep Fingers & Gloves Puncture-Free
Stuff the tips of rubber gloves with cotton balls when you clean the kitchen or bathroom. It’ll stop long or sharp nails from poking through a making a hole.
This clever hack also works the other way, too. If a sharp object pokes through, it’ll hit a wall of cotton before it ever reaches your fingers.
14. Take Them With You To The Beach
Cotton balls soaked in apple cider vinegar can feel like a cool slice of heaven on earth when applied to burning hot sunburns!
15. Relieve A Toothache
Although stuffing a cotton ball into your mouth doesn’t sound very appetizing, when you have a seriously painful toothache and it’s after hours for your dentist, that cotton ball will become your new best friend.
Soak a cotton ball in some whiskey, clove essential oil, and vanilla extract, then place it onto the affected tooth. The whiskey and clove will help numb the pain, while the vanilla will make it taste a little bit more palatable.
16. Help Seasonal Blooms Last Longer
Most of us would rather not have to deal with water retention, but it’s actually a good thing for daffodils and other hollow-stemmed flowers, like amaryllis and delphiniums.
When you first get the flowers, cut the stems at a 45-degree angle, then flip them over and fill with water. Next, plug the ends with a cotton ball, and place them into a vase filled with water. They’ll stay fresh for much longer than they usually would.
17. Build A Better Mouse Trap
Forget trying to bait mice with a hunk of cheese. Instead, soak a cotton ball in vanilla extract and they’ll come running right into the sweet-smelling trap you’ve laid.
18. Battle Mildew
Sometimes it’s really hard to get rid of the mildew that collects in the corner walls of your shower. That’s an easy fix!
Soak some cotton balls in bleach, and then place them in the hard-to-reach areas of your bathroom. For the vertical caulking that also tends to collect mold, stretch out the cotton balls until it’s long and thin. When it’s soaked in bleach, it’ll stick to the wall.
Let it sit for a couple of hours, then rinse with warm water when it’s done.
19. Sprout Seeds Indoors
Even if the weather is icky outside, you can still get a head start on your gardening project by taking it indoors with this DIY. Cotton balls are the perfect medium for germinating seeds, and all you need to get started are some seeds, a few cotton balls, and a container for the seeds to sprout in.
Place a cotton ball that’s been moistened with water onto the bottom of a Ziploc bag, then place couple of seeds on top of the cotton ball. Seal the bag and tape it to a window that gets lots of sunlight. When it has sprouted, you can transplant the whole thing, cotton ball and all, into the soil!
20. Animal Stuffing
You can use cotton balls to patch up your doggy’s chewed-up toy. It also works for kids toys, too!
21. DIY Ear Plugs
If you don’t have any ear plugs on hand, try tearing off a small piece of cotton ball and stuff it into your ear. It’ll block out some of the noise.
This also works great during bath time with the kiddos. It’ll prevent water from getting into their sensitive ears.
22. Fire Starter
Cotton balls covered with petroleum jelly make great fire starters when you’re out camping in inclement weather. It’ll catch sparks better than twigs or leaves, and it’ll keep the fire going for at least five minutes. That’s plenty of time for you to work on building a larger flame! All you need to do is spread Vaseline through out the cotton ball and then either store in an empty pill bottle or a plastic baggie.
23. Prevent Blisters From Forming
The worst part about breaking in a new pair of shoes is the chaffing and blisters that can sometimes develop. To stop that from happening, place a cotton ball between your feet and the shoe when you start to feel it rubbing your skin the wrong way.
24. Protect Little Fingers
Childproof drawers by taping cotton balls to the inner, top edge of the drawer. It’ll keep the drawer from closing all the way, so their little fingers won’t get caught when the drawers slide shut.
25. Keep Ants From Crashing Your Patio Party
Stop ants and spiders from making pests of themselves by introducing them to cotton balls soaked in peppermint essential oil. Just place the balls in problem areas, like kitchen cabinets or near the front door, and they’ll leave you alone. Rumor has it that they can’t stand the smell!
For a more permanent fix for the ants, soak cotton balls in liquid solution that includes a tablespoon each of hot water and sugar, plus a half teaspoon of borax. The sugar will attract them, and the borax will destroy them.
26. Resize Kids Shoes
Small kids grow fast, and sometimes it’s more practical to buy a shoes that are one size bigger than their actual shoe size. Just stuff cotton balls into the toe part of the show until their feet grow into it.
27. Give Bugs Bunny The Boot
Bunny rabbits are super cute, until they start nibbling on your garden and tearing through your lawn. Then it’s time to give them the boot!
To make them think twice about dining on your dandelions, grab an empty prescription bottle and poke a few holes into the cap. Put a couple of cotton balls that have been soaking in distilled white vinegar inside the bottle, then strategically place those bottles around your favorite plants.
When the rabbits get a whiff of the vinegary stench, they’ll turn up their noses and head next door for lunch. Pesky rabbit problem solved!
28. Tick Removal
Getting rid of ticks can be tricky business, and the goal is always to make sure you remove the entire tick.
Put a large blob of liquid soap on the cotton ball, then swap the tick with it for about 20 seconds. By that time the tick will have withdrawn itself from the host, and it’ll be stuck to the cotton ball.
29. Padding For Travel Containers
Ever wonder why vitamin and aspirin bottles come with a big wad of cotton that you have to remove? It keeps loosing items from rattling around and breaking.
Use cotton balls to protect small items while you travel.
30. Single-Use Applicators
If you’re going on a short day or overnight trip and don’t want to carry the whole bottle with you, cotton balls make great single user applicators for things like nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, bug spray, face astringent, and so on.
Saturate the cotton balls and then seal them up tight in a plastic baggie. Just don’t get the different liquids mixed up! There should be a separate bag for each. You can find tiny 1 x 1 inch bags online for this purpose.
There are plenty of other ways to use cotton balls too, one of the most popular being crafts for kids. Check out the video below for 5 budget cotton ball activities your kids will love!
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