The Q-Tip Conspiracy

February 12, 2008 - Get free updates of new posts here

I’ll openly admit. I LOVE tipping as the kids are calling it on the street. I am hardcore. I look forward to showering just so I can Q-tip my ears. Little secret: my mom’s nickname at work is even Q-tip but that is because of her cute little afro.

Sounds great huh? Life is perfect.

link to photo

Problem? Q-Tips are in fact harmful to you!

Say it isn’t so;( My friend told me this and my life went into a downward spiral. I had to find out the truth. Searching “Q-tips = evilness” and I found an article from WebMD called “In Praise of Earwax“:

  • Ears are self-cleaning and need the acidic ear wax to protect from bacteria
  • The waxy surface will keep the ear smooth and water will not adhere

Shame. My pride of flame yellow orange sticks are no longer. So what does this all mean? It is all marketing! Huh? Really.

Yea, crazy but I realized how did they convince the world that you must remove with such pride the yellow gold that comes from our ear. Is it cause your parents do it? Is it similar to smoking that we know its bad for us yet it feels really good in the present?

How did Q-tip (cotton swabs) do this great marketing?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 responses to “The Q-Tip Conspiracy

  1. Chris Posey Reply

    I don’t know how they did it, but I’m telling you, I was truly addicted for years. Then, I visited my ENT and he commented that I had absolutely no ear wax. I was patting myself on the back for doing such a good job-until he informed me that it was necessary. So I quit, cold turkey. But every time I see that box in my wife’s bathroom drawer (yes, she’s cruel), I can’t help but get a little jittery.

  2. kadavy Reply

    It’s a simple formula.

    (natural characteristic of human body x making people feel self-conscious about it) + product to curb said characteristic = millions

    Just look at deodorant, hair removal, etc. (not that I don’t participate in these things anyway).

    I would like to develop a palm-wrinkle removal cream. I’m sure I would be a thousandaire in no time.

  3. Michael Reply

    The cigarette analogy might be even closer than you think: In small lettering, right on most boxes, it says NOT to use them for cleaning ears, they can burst an eardrum!

  4. Andrew Laffoon Reply

    Lol. Noah, this is classic! It’s funny, because I just started using Q-tips more thanks to my lovely wife. And now I, too, am addicted. I love the feeling when you get out of the shower and clean out all the wax. It is indeed satisfying to see the tip covered in yellow, orange, or even (shudder) brown goo. But now…it can be no more!

    Thanks for the hilarious post. 🙂


  5. Britt Reply

    The Q-tip represents a slippery slope of personal hygiene. First, one starts by cleaning the outer rims of one’s ear. After all, who wants to look at visibly crusty ears? Then, as the Q-tip gets closer and closer, it becomes incredibly difficult to avoid the temptation of cleaning just around the edge, followed by a quick dip. Then, satisfaction at the visible results of one’s efforts.

    I did find this little tidbit at

    Utterly unrelated, but I have to share something I ran across in the OED…They give the etymology of Q-tip as “the initial letter of QUALITY n. + TIP n.” and then add in small type: “The product was app. invented in 1923 by Leo Gerstenzang, a Polish-born American, who initially named them Baby Gays. In 1926 the name was changed to Q-tips Baby Gays, and later shortened to Q-tips.” I’ll bet they thank their lucky stars every day that Gerstenzang decided to change the name.

  6. Frank Reply

    yeah, nowhere on the box does it suggest using it to clean ears. i looked into this several months ago, and i’m not sure if they changed the box, but a suggested use is keeping your baby’s umbilical cord clean (???)! i don’t think the q-tip-for-ears thing was necessarily a marketing ploy by q-tip.. it’s prolly something people just started doing because earwax seems icky and q-tips happen to be so suitable for cleaning out that gunk… and if ur the q-tip company… would you really put a big sign telling people not to do that? :oP “hey, stop buying our product.”

  7. Rachel Reply

    Noah, I am absolutely distraught! This is terrible terrible news. I read the article in hopes that there was some loophole and so I’m wondering – how often do you think that one could legitimately consider their ears to be impacted with wax? Would it be a stretch to assume that kind of thing happens daily? Maybe there’s a way I could get my ears to impact themselves right before every shower so I can clean without guilt…

    Once again, I think I missed the point…

  8. Colin "Google" McDougall Reply

    Hey Noah,

    Saw you somewhere other than your blog the other day….

    Been meaning to call you then couldn’t find your previous emails…

    Can you send me your contact info again to the address plugged in here?

    Hope all is awesome with you and look forward to getting in touch again


  9. Nicole Price Reply

    The ear wax is definitely there for a reason. And as more is produced, the ear;lier wax is moved towards the outside. You should never try too hard and clean out all the wax in your ear. Just the part that is towards the outside and is easily reachable.

  10. joe d Reply

    this is clearly a case of substance abuse by the masses, rather than clever q-tip marketing. have you ever gotten a raisin stuck in your ear? you can’t use your fingers to get that out, fingers are too big. use a tiny stick. with some padding on the end. that’ll help. q-tips were developed to help us scratch the tiny itches that our fingers are too fat to reach, metaphorically and literally speaking. only you can choose to use these magic little wands for good (not for evil). leave the canal alone. your addiction is a shame but recognizing you have a problem is the first step to healing. good luck

  11. savingadvice Reply

    I really found that odd also that it doesn’t say anywhere on the box to use on ears, I didn’t believe it when I read the above reply so I actually had to go check. Weird what we become addicted too.