What’s the green alternative to cotton wool pads?

Looking for a green alternative to cotton wool pads? We give you some ideas for reusable cotton wool pads and cloths so you can reduce your use of single-use items.

The non-organic cotton industry is a huge source of global environmental pollution  using almost one quarter of all the world’s insecticides and 10% of pesticides. These toxic chemicals cause health problems for cotton workers and are responsible for poisoning wildlife and rivers, as well as killing an estimated 16,000 people each year.

Greenest alternatives to cotton pads

There are simple ways to be a shade greener which will save you money, as well as helping to save the planet. The best idea is to replace disposable cotton wool with washable and re-usable cotton wool pads, muslin cloths or something similar.

Muslin cloths


Muslin cloths are perfect for removing cleanser whilst giving your skin a gentle exfoliation at the same time. I love cleansers which you remove with a muslin cloth. In my post simple way to supercharge your skincare regime I explain why organic cotton face cloths should be a part of everyone’s daily skincare routine. My favourite organic, unbleached muslin cloths are from Green Fibres (buy from Amazon). You can also buy muslin cloths from Balance Me.

Waste-Free Handmade Cotton Pads, Reusable Make Up Remover Cotton Discs

Exclusive discount for Be a Shade Greener readers

My friend at Handmade Tales repurposes scraps of fabric from other projects, fabric given to her by friends from their own projects that otherwise would have ended up in landfill plus fabric bought at local charity shops to make these beautiful reusable cotton pads.

Use code: SHGREENER20 for 20% discount

Valid for first 10 customers.

Buy from Handmade Tales

£7.00 for a pack of 7 (one for each day of the week)

Organic Hemp Makeup Remover Rounds, Face Wipes, Exfoliating Face Pads

Naturally Evergreen Organic Hemp Makeup Remover Rounds Face Wipes Exfoliating Face Pads

These reusable eco makeup remover pads are made from organic hemp cut-offs from an eco fashion company. They are soft and the hemp terry has a gentle exfoliating effect on your skin.

Buy from Naturally Evergreen

£6.99 for 7 pads (one for each day of the week)

Washable cleansing pads

I use these as an environmentally-friendly alternative to cotton wool for applying toner or for removing make-up. You could also use them for cleansing as the name suggests. I’ve had my set for years and they have saved me the cost of buying cotton wool as well as helping me cut down on waste. I just throw them in the washing machine after each use. The cleansing pads have a cotton outer layer and a washable polyester fibre filling.

Buy from Ethical Superstore or Amazon which also sells them.

Bamboo & hemp fleece makeup remover pads

These are ideal for removing make-up, especially eye make-up or  for applying toner. This fabric is 70% Organic Bamboo and 30% Hemp and the material has been tested for harmful chemicals including lead and OEKO certified. Hemp is a strong fabric which gets softer with washing. Bamboo fabrics are naturally antibacterial, antifungal, anti-static & hypo-allergenic.

Buy from SewTheLoveIn on Etsy.

£9.29 for a pack of 14 which is great if you’re going on holiday and won’t be able to wash them while you’re away. Ships worldwide from United States.

Organic Cotton & Bamboo Make-up Pads

These make-up pads are made from absorbent and naturally antibacterial bamboo towelling with two layers of soft unbleached organic cotton muslin.

A set of 5 costs £5.50 or you can save money per pad by buying a pack of 10 for £5.50.

Buy from Tabitha Eve on Etsy.

Earth softly washable cleansing pads (soft bamboo)

These environmentally friendly alternatives to throwaway cleansing pads are made from soft micro fleece backed with the soft bamboo towelling. You can buy a pack of 6 reusable Earth Softly Washable Cleansing Pads Soft Bamboo for £5.49.

Greener alternative to cotton wool pads

If no green alternative to cotton wool pads is going to do the job, then be more eco-friendly by using organic cotton wool.

Organic cotton pads

green alternative to cotton wool pads

I buy mine from Big Green Smile who sell a range of organic cotton wool products including pleats, pads, balls and buds.

Natural Collection also have a selection of organic cotton wool and I have a special discount for my readers:

Natural Collection discount code exclusive to Be a Shade Greener readers: X3BSG

Discount: £3 off your first order (no minimum spend)

Expiry: 28 February 2019

Join the discussion

Have you got any other eco alternatives to cotton wool? Please post your green alternative to cotton wool below.

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Original post: February 2015, Updated: January 2019

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