Reusable Cotton Balls

OK, I admit right off the bat that I took this idea from my friend, Pietra of Homestead Emporium. I really don’t think she’ll mind though because I’m only making them for myself and the girls: I don’t serge small circles like this well enough to think about selling them (as you can see). But that’s OK, they don’t have to be perfect for me; I’m just excited to find another way to use some of the gorgeous fabrics I have leftover from making diapers.

Reusable cotton balls - Pietra's

There’s nothing I hate more than wasting fabric so I’ve been keeping all my scraps to make cloth pads and nursing pads but there’s only so many of those that you need – especially if you’re not nursing anymore. I did make some nursing pads for Princess but need more practice on those too. Luckily she doesn’t mind if some of the circles are a bit wonky. It’s frustrating that I can’t serge as well as I sew, but since I’ve been sewing waaaay longer than I’ve been serging it makes sense. I don’t have to like it though. But I digress…

Getting back on track: I took photos of Pietra’s and my cotton rounds. In case you can’t tell, Pietra’s are on the top. There were 10 rounds but one went AWOL before the photo shoot. Her girls do all the work for them, including taking the photos and shipping, except the actual serging. I think that’s SO cool! My girls help me whenever they have time – they especially like tearing out the stabilizer behind appliques and helping to package orders – but they don’t have a product all their own. I was going to teach them to serge so they could do wipes and such but whenever I had time they didn’t and vice versa. Oops, I’m digressing again…

Reusable cotton balls - Mine

The bottom photo are the ones I made; obviously. They got better as I went along and figured out which side is best to have up (the dyed side) and what settings to have the serger on (for my serger it’s the longest stitch length and neutral width). They’re not as perfect as Pietra’s, but I like them anyway.

Another disposable product eliminated from our household! After switching to cloth napkins, washcloths instead of paper towels for the daycare, reusable shopping bags, cloth pads, containers instead of ziploc bags for food storage, and now reusable cotton balls, I’m running out of ideas. Paper towels? Maybe, but we reserve those for gross things we don’t want to see again – like cat puke. Q-tips? I haven’t figured out how to do those “green” yet. Family cloth? Not likely – I likes my toilet paper!

Amy Sue


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  2. Hi. A great reusable alternative to q-tips are Japanese ear cleaners. You could google them or look on An ear cleaner is about a pencil length piece of thin bamboo that is slightly curved on the end. In Japan (and perhaps other Asian countries) they use them to clean out their ears! It might sound a little odd, but you just clean it off, and know enough to be cautious (if it hurts your doing it wrong, and don’t stick it IN your ear canal!).
    Your quest for reusables sounds cool! Once I get my sewing machine fixed I plan to sew an old flannel shirt into reusable cotton makeup/toner pads. It seems flannel works best for this…

    • Melissa,

      Thanks for the heads-up on the Japanese ear cleaners – I’ve never heard of them before and will definitely look them up. I don’t know if I can ever bring myself to use one though since my mom imprinted in my brain to never put anything besides Q-tips and fingers in my ears. 😉

      I’ll bet flannel will make nice makeup/toner pads. I have some made of cotton velour and they are soooooo soft, but most people don’t have velour hanging around their houses. Be sure to send photos when you’ve got them done!

      ~Amy Sue

  3. So is flannel a good fabric to use for the cotton pads? I use a rosewater astringent and Eye makeup remover. So I use 4 cotton balls a day. I googled “reusable cotton balls” and was directed to you’re blog. (Love your other ideas too!) What kind of fabrics will work the best you think?

    Thank you!

    • Julie,

      All of mine are velour but I’d think flannel would work well too. Just be sure it’s really soft so you don’t irritate the skin around your eyes.

      Good luck and have fun!
      ~Amy Sue

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  5. How many layers of fabric did you use? I want to get mine right the first time! I don’t come into OCV very often.

    • Shannon,

      I just used 2 layers, and that was plenty. I also made some with hemp French Terry on one side and those work really well too. I like to use the French Terry side for toner and the OCV side for eye make up remover.

      Be sure to let me know how yours turn out – I hope you can serge a better circle than I can, LOL!

      ~Amy Sue

  6. Question: why make them round? I’m guessing making squares would be much easier to serge, and they’d work just as well! 🙂

    • Kristina,

      I’m not sure why the other ladies make them round, but for me it’s easier to serge a curve than a corner – even if the curve is imperfect. 😉

      Thanks for commenting!
      ~Amy Sue

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