15 Survival uses of Q-tips
03/26/2020 / By Arsenio Toledo / Comments
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15 Survival uses of Q-tips

Q-tips may not be your go-to item when you think about versatile survival equipment, but they do have a variety of uses that you can take advantage of during survival situations. Here are 15 different survival uses for your Q-tips. (h/t to SurvivalSullivan.com)

Personal care

The main use of Q-tips is for cleaning the ears. During a survival situation, keeping your ears clear will still be important. But Q-tips can have other personal care uses. For example, you can also use Q-tips to safely clear foreign objects from your eyes. Simply touch the end of a clean Q-tip to any object in your eye to get it out.

Animal care

You may not have access to a veterinarian during a survival situation. Q-tips can be handy for keeping your pet clean. It can keep sensitive areas, such as eyes and ears, free of dirt and other debris. If your pet has received a light flesh wound, you can even use Q-tips to clean the area safely. (Related: Prepping with pets: How to train your pets so they have a better chance of surviving when SHTF.)

DIY candle or wick

Although not ideal, a Q-tip can be used as a makeshift candle or wick. Bundle up several Q-tips together using a rubber band or duct tape and stick it into a container filled with sand or soil to keep it upright. You now have a candle that will burn for a short while.

Applicator for wax and wood glue

For small projects and repairs, the Q-tip can be used as an applicator. Simply dip the Q-tip in wax, wood glue or anything else and you can apply your adhesive onto almost any substance.

Gun cleaner

You can use a Q-tip to clean hard to reach places on your gun. Simply dip the Q-tip in cleaning solvent and apply it gently to areas that need it. It should be able to remove dirt and residue and keep your self-defense weapon working properly.

Cleaner for other gear

Your Q-tip can also clean other devices. You can use it to remove dust from your ham radio or other communication gear, you can use it to clean dirt and corrosion off battery terminals, such as on remote controls and you can dip the Q-tip in water or WD-40 to gently scrub the lenses of your eyeglasses or flashlights.

First aid instrument

Clean Q-tips are also great first aid instruments. If you need to apply some natural ointments to your wounds, you can use a Q-tip to not infect the area with your germ-infested fingers. If you have some natural cleaners, you can also use Q-tips to wipe away any dirt and grime from small cuts and bruises.

Alternative for scrub brushes

If you’ve decided to bug in, keeping your shelter clean is important not just for your health but for your morale as well. You can scrub dirt and grease from your shoes and dishes if you don’t have a proper scrub brush.

Makeshift toothbrush

If your toothbrush is all worn out, you can use a Q-tip as a makeshift toothbrush for SHTF situations. Simply dip a damp Q-tip in your toothpaste and gently scrub as much as you need. Be sure to rinse, as some cotton fibers might loosen.

Alternative stirring stick for tea or coffee

While not ideal, you will still want to stir your healthy teas and coffee drinks to make sure all of the powder has mixed in well with your hot water. Remove the cotton tip before you begin stirring to avoid cotton mixing in your drink.

Safer fire starter

Cotton is a very combustible substance. As such, it makes for a great and safe fire starter. Simply light the end of the Q-tip with your lighter and touch it with your tinder. If you’re inexperienced with starting fires, using a Q-tip can be a safe way for you to get experience.


Because cotton is a combustible substance, this means that it can also be used not just to start a fire, but to keep it lit as well. Pull off the ends of your Q-tips and mix it in with your other flammable materials to make your fire. Be sure to avoid burning the plastic bits, as they can give off noxious fumes.

For waterproofing tent seams or other gear

Leaky boots, tens or jackets are a quick way for you to get sick. However, using a Q-tip as an applicator to waterproof the seams of your gear and shelter can help you stay dry during survival situations.

Multi-purpose tool

If you wrap duct tape around your Q-tips, you can turn it into a survival item with a variety of different uses.

Craft making for your kids

Keeping your children busy during disaster situations can help keep their mind off of the reality of your situation. Q-tips can come in handy as they can be used to paint and apply glue. You can even glue together several Q-tips to create houses or other structures.

Q-tips may seem like mundane items with one use. However, this list shows that, with enough imagination, you can turn any piece of equipment into a handy multi-purpose survival tool.

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