Did you know you’re not supposed to clean your ear canals with cotton buds? It says so right there on the box. I only just recently found this out, and my mind was blown. Blown.  I hate the feeling of excess ear wax in my ears. Swabbing out my ears has been one of my post-shower rituals as long as I can remember. The Department of Health recommends you never clean your ears unless enough earwax has built up to cause symptoms including: earache, a sensation the ear is plugged, partial hearing loss, ringing in the ear, itching or coughing. Apparently, ear wax is good for your ears, and provides protective, lubricating and antibacterial properties. When you strip it away, that’s when problems can happen.

Presumably, I haven’t done too much long term damage to my ears from my years of swabbing (I hope!), but I’ve still got three massive boxes of cotton buds on my bathroom shelf thanks to an irresistible offer on Amazon.

So what am I going to do with nearly 2,000 cotton buds? Well, I vaguely imagined having a Better Off Dead moment, but it turns out there are a whole boatload of smart ways to use cotton buds that don’t involve rupturing your ear drum. Check out this slideshow for some great kids’ craft projects, cleaning hacks, and even a few makeup tricks. If you have some genius ways to use cotton buds that I’m not thinking of, let me know in the comments.

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