Cotton pad

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Cotton pads
Cotton balls

Cotton pads are pads made of cotton which are used for medical or cosmetic purposes.[1] For medical purposes, cotton pads are used to stop or prevent bleeding from minor punctures such as injections or venipuncture.[2] They may be secured in place with tape. Cotton pads are also used in the application and the removal of makeup.[1] Cotton pads are soft enough that they can be used to clean babies.[1] Cotton balls have much of the same applications as cotton pads, and can be used interchangeably[citation needed].


Use of cotton for sanitary purposes likely dates back to its domestication. There is evidence that toilet paper, made in part of cotton and/or other plant fibers such as hemp,[3][4] was used at least as early as 589 AD in China.[5][a] Cotton balls have been used for applying gold leaf since at least as far back as 1801. An artists' manual from that year recommends using a "squirrel's tail, or cotton ball" to press the gold leaf into place.[6] There is some evidence that they were being mass produced as far back as 1816, namely an advertisement taken out of the New York Evening Post by Palmer, Nichols & Co. for many different kinds of fabric and products made of cotton which lists "Cotton Balls" as an item for sale.[7] In 1891 The Laredo Times ran a story about women who put cotton balls in their cheeks to make themselves appear less thin.[8] An 1898 patent by Jerome B. Dillon for a new type of umbilical bandage used an "antiseptic, absorbent cotton pad" to carry out its function.[9]

In 1937, Joseph A. Voss invented a machine which unraveled rolls of cotton and cut them at a fixed interval into cotton pads,[10] starting the widespread consumption of cotton balls and pads. Companies producing cotton balls took out ads in newspapers as early as 1948 to promote their uses to the public.[1] In 1965, the Opelousas Daily World reported that the sanitary cotton industry in the United States was worth US$60 million (US$460.4 million in 2016 CPI-adjusted dollars).[11] Around this time, there was industry concern that sanitary products using nylon, labeled as cotton balls, were going to crowd out cotton balls actually containing cotton, harming cotton-exporting regions.[11] In 1986, Johnson & Johnson, a manufacturer of cotton balls, published advertisements stating that "doctors advise" cotton balls over "synthetic puffs".[12] By 2013 however, most consumer cotton balls and pads outside of specifically labeled "100% Cotton" organic brands contained mostly polyester and only nominal amounts of cotton.[13]

In 2015, Mass Market Retailers, a supermarket and chain store trade magazine, estimated that combined sales of cotton balls and pads in the United States were US$177.7 million for the year 2014,[14] down from US$343.1 million in 1999.[15] The change could be due to increases of sales of cheaper store brands: in 1999, only 50.1% of sold cotton balls were store branded,[15] versus 88% in 2014.[14] The top three cotton ball brands in the United States in 2015 were Swisspers (manufactured by U.S. Cotton), Swiss Beauty (U.S. Cotton),[16] and Cotton Cloud (Wabbit, Inc.).[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Uses of Cotton Balls Announced". Lansing, MI: Lansing State Journal. 1948-04-23. p. 19. Retrieved 2016-11-29 – via
  2. ^ Best practices for injection. World Health Organization, National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2010-03-01. Apply a 60–70% alcohol-based solution (isopropyl alcohol or ethanol) on a single-use swab or cotton-wool ball.
  3. ^ "Toilet Paper History & Timeline". Consumers Interstate Corporation. Archived from the original on 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  4. ^ Dr. Ray, Keith. "Chinese Inventions". The Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding. Archived from the original on 2016-11-25. Retrieved 2016-11-19. Chai Lum based his paper on a variety of fibrous materials, including rope pieces, old fishing nets, rags, bamboo fibres and tree bark.
  5. ^ Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 5, Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Part 1, Paper and Printing. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.
  6. ^ The Artist's Assistant, Swinnery & Hawkins, Birmingham, 1801; page 260.
  7. ^ "DRY GOODS (advertisement)". New York Evening Post. 1816-10-03. Retrieved 2016-11-29 – via
  8. ^ "Here's a New Device". The Laredo Times. 1891-12-10. p. 2. Retrieved 2016-11-29 – via
  9. ^ Dillon, B. (8 Nov 1898), US Patent #613,761, retrieved 2016-11-29
  10. ^ Voss, Joseph A. (Nov 1, 1938), Cotton cutting machine, retrieved 2016-11-29
  11. ^ a b Brown, Evrard (1965-08-11). "Nylon Balls for Cotton". Daily World (Opelousas). Retrieved 2016-11-29 – via
  12. ^ Cardi, MD, Louis P. (1986-04-03). "Cotton Balls or Synthetic Puffs? It Makes a Difference". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 66. Retrieved 2016-11-29 – via
  13. ^ Neporent, Liz (21 November 2013). "Dangerous Diet Trend: The Cotton Ball Diet". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  14. ^ a b c "Cotton balls/pads sales figures". Mass Market Retailers: 126. 20 April 2015 – via Gale (General OneFile).
  15. ^ a b "Cotton balls/pads sales figures". Chain Drug Review: 16. 2000-01-17 – via Gale (General OneFile).
  16. ^ "SWISS BEAUTY COTTON BALLS Trademark of U.S. Cotton, Inc". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Justia. 1876272. Retrieved 2017-01-20.