Learn about the history of Qtips

The “Q” Stands for Quality!

We’re proud of our history, commitment to the environment, and legacy of softness and quality. Our products are sourced from sustainable forests, tested carefully, and biodegradable. Learn more about the history of Q-tips® cotton swabs below!

A Q-tips® cotton swabs History

A Q-tips® cotton swabs History

1923 – Upon observing his wife applying wads of cotton to toothpicks, Leo Gerstenzang, the original founder of the Q-tips® Company, conceived the idea of manufacturing a ready-to-use cotton swab. He founded the Leo Gerstenzang Infant Novelty Co., a firm which marketed baby care accessories.

A Q-tips® cotton swabs History 1923

1926 – The product was originally called Baby Gays and in 1926, the labels were changed to read Q-tips® Baby Gays. Later, the name Baby Gays was discarded and Q-tips® became the identifying mark for cotton swabs. The “Q” in Q-tips® stands for quality and the word “tips” describes the cotton swab at the end of the stick.

1948 – Due to increased consumer demand, Q-tips® , Inc., moved its manufacturing facility from New York City to a new facility in Long Island City, New York.

A Q-tips® cotton swabs History 1950

1950’s – Q-tips® cotton swabs were recognized by Hollywood glamour and partnered with America’s top Hollywood makeup artist, Ern Westmore, to create the “Lesson in Loveliness with Q-tips® ” booklet.

1958 – Q-tips® cotton swabs purchased Paper Sticks Ltd. of England, a manufacturer of paper sticks for the confectionery trades. Its machinery was subsequently brought to the United States and adapted to the manufacture of, and eventual introduction of Q-tips® “Paper Applicator” cotton swabs. This made Q-tips® cotton swabs available in both wooden and paper sticks.

A Q-tips® cotton swabs History 1962

1962 – The demand for Q-tips® cotton swabs products continued to grow and in 1962, the Q-tips® Company was acquired by Chesebrough-Ponds. The production facility in Long Island City, New York, was relocated to Jefferson City, Missouri. This plant continued to produce all Q-tips® cotton swab requirements for the domestic market until 1974.

1974 – Chesebrough-Pond’s moved a portion of Q-tips® cotton swabs production to Las Piedras, Puerto Rico.

A Q-tips® cotton swabs History 1980

1980’s – This period provided numerous growth opportunities and saw the transition to “100% cotton” for all Q-tips® cotton swabs.

1987 – Unilever, the company founded in 1885 in England as Lever Brothers by grocer William Hesketh Lever and his brother James, acquired Chesebrough-Pond’s including Q-tips® cotton swabs.

1995 – Q-tips® cotton swabs Vanity Pack was introduced.

1998 – Q-tips® Atimicrobial cotton swabs were launched.

2003 – Q-tips® cotton swabs remain the market leader and continually searches for new and improved opportunities to serve consumers.

2007 – Introduced the repackaged 30-count Purse Pack. Q-tips® cotton swabs also started sourcing paper from sustainable forests.

2008 – Q-tips® cotton swabs switched to a plastic (PET) that is more environmentally friendly.

2009 – Introduced the repackaged Q-tips® cotton swabs Vanity Pack. Q-tips® cotton swabs remain the market leader in the cotton swab category.

2010 – Introduced the Q-tips® cotton swabs Baby Pack.

2011 – Introduced Q-tips® Precision Tips cotton swabs. Final results were confirmed in November 2011 that Q-tips® cotton swabs are biodegradable.