“Upcycling Toilet Paper Rolls into Q-Tips”

“Upcycling Toilet Paper Rolls into Q-Tips”

Upcycling Toilet Paper Rolls into Q-Tips


Reusing and repurposing items that would otherwise be discarded is not only good for the environment, but also allows for creativity and resourcefulness. One example of upcycling is transforming empty toilet paper rolls into reusable cotton swabs or Q-tips. This simple DIY project gives new life and purpose to a common household item while reducing waste.

In this article, I will provide a step-by-step guide on how to upcycle toilet paper rolls into Q-tips at home. I will cover the materials needed, the process of making them, and tips for customizing and using your upcycled Q-tips.

Materials Needed

To upcycle toilet paper rolls into Q-tips, you only need a few basic craft supplies:

  • Toilet paper rolls – Make sure they are empty cardboard rolls. You will need 1-2 rolls per 1 Q-tip. Save up used rolls over time.

  • Cotton balls – Organic untreated ones work best. Pull apart into small pieces.

  • Scissors – For cutting the cardboard rolls.

  • Ruler – To measure and cut uniform lengths.

  • Pencil – To wrap the cotton around.

  • Glue (optional) – A glue stick or white Elmer’s glue to secure the cotton.

Step-by-Step Process

Follow these simple steps to create your own reusable Q-tips from toilet paper rolls:

Cut the rolls

  • Use scissors to cut the cardboard toilet paper rolls into 2-inch segments.

  • Cut through the roll evenly so you end up with uniform tubes.

  • Tip: Stack 4-5 rolls together when cutting for efficiency.

Wrap the cotton

  • Take apart a cotton ball and pull into a long, thin strip about 2 inches wide.

  • Wrap the cotton strip tightly around the middle of the pencil.

  • Slide the cotton wrap off the pencil. It should be a tight coil about 2 inches long.

  • Insert each cotton coil into the cardboard tubes until it fits snugly.

Secure the cotton (optional)

  • Add a dab of glue or glue stick to the edge of the tube to hold the cotton coil in place.

  • Let the glue dry completely before using your Q-tips.

Customize and use

  • Add scent: Drop your favorite essential oil onto the cotton for scented swabs.

  • Decorate: Use markers, stickers, or washi tape to decorate the cardboard.

  • Use gently: Do not insert too far into ears or nose. Discard after each use.

  • Reuse: These are meant for light exfoliating jobs, not for heavy makeup removal.

And that’s it! With just toilet paper rolls, cotton balls, and a few basic craft supplies, you can create your own reusable cotton swabs at home. Not only are they cost-effective and eco-friendly, but they can also be customized in terms of scent, decor, and usage. Making your own Q-tips is a simple way to reduce waste while getting creative.

Tips for Successful Upcycling

Here are some additional pointers to help you effectively and safely upcycle toilet paper rolls into reusable Q-tips:

  • Use fresh rolls – Make sure the cardboard rolls are empty and clean before cutting them for reuse. Old toilet paper bits will be unsanitary.

  • Check cotton for defects – Inspect the cotton balls or strips before inserting into the tubes. Discard any cotton with dark spots or defects.

  • Apply glue properly – Use only a small amount of non-toxic glue and allow to fully dry before use. This prevents any unsafe chemicals from touching your skin.

  • Avoid overly decorative ends – Decorative ends like pom poms may shed and come apart. Simple washi tape or markers are safer options.

  • Discard after each use – Do not reuse the same swab multiple times, as bacteria can collect on the cotton. Properly dispose of each Q-tip after one use.

  • Use for light jobs – Homemade swabs are best for gentle jobs like applying lotion or light exfoliating. Do not use to heavily remove makeup.

  • Monitor for reactions – Discontinue use if you experience any irritation or reactions. As with any handmade item, monitor for sensitivity.

Creative Ways to Use Upcycled Q-Tips

Upcycled Q-tips made from toilet paper rolls have many uses beyond just ear and nose cleaning. Here are some creative ways to use your homemade swabs:

  • Apply or remove nail polish. The cotton end is perfect for controlling polish.

  • Soften and smooth eyebrows. Brush the cotton over brows to shape and tame.

  • Clean jewelry. Gently wipe cotton over earrings, chains, and gems to remove dirt.

  • Spot treat blemishes. Use a medicated cream on the cotton to dab on acne.

  • Spread lip balm or lipstick. Apply color smoothly and precisely.

  • Makeup blending. Softly blend out harsh makeup edges.

  • Craft paint application. Dot and dab paint onto projects with precision.

  • Unclog nails. Wrap cotton around a toothpick to gently clean under nails.

With a little creativity, the uses for upcycled Q-tips are endless! Not only are you reducing waste, you are also saving money on disposable cotton swabs over time.


Upcycling toilet paper rolls into reusable Q-tips takes an item headed for the landfill and gives it new purpose. The simple, eco-friendly craft allows for customization while also saving money. By following the step-by-step instructions, anyone can make their own Q-tips at home with basic supplies. Get creative with decorating and using your handmade swabs! With proper care and hygiene, upcycled toilet paper roll Q-tips can be a green, cost-effective alternative to disposables.