Cotton swabs consist of a small wad of cotton wrapped around one or both ends of a short rod, usually made of either wood, rolled paper, or plastic.
The cotton swab was invented in the 1920s by Leo Gerstenzang after he attached wads of cotton to toothpicks.His product, which he named "Baby Gays", went on to become the most widely sold brand name, "Q-tips", with the Q standing for "quality". The term "Q-tips" is often used as a genericized trademark for cotton swabs in the USA.Although doctors have said for years that usage of the cotton swab for ear cleaning or scratching is not safe, such use remains the most common.
Cotton swabs under the brand name of Q-Tips were invented in 1923 by a Polish-born American named Leo Gerstenzang. The inventor was also the founder of the Leo Gerstenzang Infant Novelty Company that marketed his new invention.
Leo Gerstenzang decided to create a pre-manufactured cotton swab after observing his wife wrapping a piece of cotton on the end of a toothpick.
Q-Tips was not the first brand name Gertenzang used for his cotton swabs, Baby Gays was. In 1926, the name Baby Gays was expanded to Q-Tips Baby Gays, and later the Baby Gays part of the name was dropped.