Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.

Like Kleenex and Band-Aids, the brand name Q-tips has entered the lexicon as a noun, and in my family we call them Q-tips even if they're just cotton swaps made by some random generic manufacturer and not by Unilver. (Fun fact: When Q-tips were first invented, they were called Baby Gays!) Now, the Q-tips folks, and doctors, will tell you you should NEVER EVER put Q-tips in your ears. And I get it. Ears are self-cleaning, you might puncture your ear drum, cotton could get stuck in there and you could be deaf for years, etc. DO NOT PUT COTTON SWABS IN YOUR EARS, OK? But I am here to confess: I use them to gently wipe out my ear canal. I do. And it feels fucking awesome. Once when I was a teenager my family was on an epic trip through Portugal, Spain and Morocco, and my sister and I were in that dusty musty state that comes from summer travel, weird european bathing facilities and low water pressure, and "MY KINGDOM FOR A Q-TIP" became a daily catchphrase. In Australia, cotton swabs are called ear buds. People put them in their ears. (But you shouldn't. You really, really, shouldn't.) A couple of years ago, NPR did a story on the joy of ear-cleaning, and a doctor informed us that we have tons of nerve endings in our ears, and when we're "cleaning" our ears with a swab, we're really just scratching an itch that has developed — you guessed it — because we keep cleaning the wax out of our ears. A vicious cycle!

Of course, all ears are different. Some have wax of the gooey variety, some build up flakey wax, some people are prone to ear infections, some folks experience lots of itchiness. And if you have ear issues, by Jove, get thee to a doctor. My Q-tips and I have nothing to offer you.

Beyond the taboo ear-area, cotton swabs are incredibly useful to have on hand. They're great for fixing eyeliner and mascara mistakes. If you paint your nails, they're perfect for cleaning up around the cuticle. I have also used a cotton swab to clean between keys on my keyboard, to get some gunk out of jewelry crevices, and to apply ointment on my dog's leg when he had a hotspot. The Q-tips website has a bunch of stuff I would never even think of, like how to build a snowman out of swabs. But let's be honest: People use swabs to clean their ears. Controversial, but true. The manufacturer doesn't want to get blamed for the hundreds of people who experience aural injuries because of this, but it's a secret that's not a secret, an unspoken truth. I'm sorry. It's possible I am headed to a version of hell that is a landfill full of Q-tips and punctured ear drums, but at least my ears will be clean when I get there.


Q-tips cotton swabs, 500 for $4.19, at Amazon.

Worth It only features things we paid for ourselves and actually like. Don't send us stuff.