There are tons of uses for cotton swabs from makeup and cleaning to numerous crafting projects. Unfortunately, when we’re done with those cotton swabs, they ultimately end up in the garbage. But here is a craft that allows you to upcycle those used cotton swabs. That may sound gross at first, but I promise you’ll only be using the stick in the middle not the actual dirty cottony bit.

Part 1: Prepping the Cotton Swabs:

To stay, simply collect the used cotton swabs. I left a jar in the bathroom and threw in the used cotton swabs after removing nail polish or fixing my make up.



All you’ll need for this first part is:

  • Used cotton swabs
  • Scissors


After you have gathered your cotton swabs, use the scissors to cut off each end so you are left with only the middle bit. If it is too difficult to cut through the stick, you can use the scissors to hold it in place as you wiggle the stick back and forth until it breaks.











Store the sticks until you have enough for your desired design.


Part 2: Making the frame



  • Cardboard box (I used a cereal box)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Cotton swab sticks
  • Tape
  • Plastic film/sheet
  • Paint and paintbrush


For this project, I copied one of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems onto a piece of paper to frame. It definitely helps if you have a cat around to assist you. Whatever you plan on framing, make sure you have it handy so you can make a frame to fit it.


1. Cut four strips of cardboard from the box to the desired width. Then measure out how long each needs to be to fit whatever it is you are framing.


2. The side pieces should overlap with the top and bottom pieces. Cut the ends of the side pieces diagonally so that it meets the corners of the top and bottom piece.


3. Then glue the side pieces onto the top and bottom pieces.


4. If desired, you can reinforce the joints on the back with pieces of tape.


Now you have your base frame. Time to decorate!


Part 3: Decorating the Frame


1. To decorate the frame, all you have to do is come up with a design and glue the cotton swab sticks into place. If you need to, you can draw the design on the frame with pencil and glue the sticks over it. If you need to make a stick smaller, use the same technique you as when you cut the cotton swab bits off the stick. Simply hold the stick in the scissors and rock it back and forth until it backs. While making mine, I had a separate cup for scrap pieces that I was able to use to fill in places as I went.


2. Now it’s time to paint. I chose to paint all of the sticks one color…
…and the rest of the frame a different color for a two-tone effect.










3. Once you’re done painting, you can add a layer of gloss or Mod Podge on the cardboard for a shiny finish.


Part 4: Finishing the Frame

1. To attach the plastic film front to your frame, cut a sheet of plastic so that it is slightly larger than the opening of your frame on all sides. I usually use pieces of plastic wrapping from things like poster frames or boxes with see-through windows.


2. Lay the sheet on the back of the frame so that it completely covers the opening.


3. Use tape to secure the sheet in place, pulling it tightly over the opening of the frame as you tape it down.


It should look something like this. If you want, you can glue another frame cutout onto the back of the existing frame to further hold the sheeting in place and reinforce the cardboard.


4. Use scrap pieces of cardboard to make a backing for the frame. I used the corner holders on the bottom and one strip along the top-ish for easy hanging.


5. Glue the backing pieces into place. For temporary hanging, you can hot glue a used Commandstrip directly onto the back of the frame and attach to the wall with a new Commandstrip.


6. Hang and enjoy.

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