Last updated: 16/10/2022

How we pick our products

31Products analysed

27Hours spent

23Evaluated articles

75User reviews

Welcome to our big cotton pads test 2023. Here we present all the cotton pads we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best cotton pads for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy cotton pads.


  • Whether large or small: cotton pads come in countless different shapes and sizes. Some manufacturers focus on sustainable production of cotton pads made from organic cotton.
  • You can compare and evaluate cotton pads based on their size, pattern and sustainability.
  • Cotton pads with texture make it easier to remove make-up. The advantage is especially noticeable in sensitive areas, such as your eye area.

The Best Cotton Pads: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying cotton pads

What material are cotton pads made of?

Cotton pads are often used every day to cleanse the face. But what exactly are these absorbent all-rounders made of? Quite simple: cotton.

Did you know that cotton pads can often be hazardous to health due to their pesticide residues?

Often there are still residues of pesticides in the cotton. These chemicals can then be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes when using cotton pads and harm us.

Most cotton pads are made almost exclusively from pure cotton. The manufacturers get the cotton fibres from spinning mills, which are less suitable for yarn production. Nevertheless, the fibres do not contain any chemicals and are bleached without chlorine.

Nowadays, the loose cotton fibres are strengthened by thermobonding, which gives them their three-dimensional structure.

Are cotton pads environmentally friendly?

This question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. However, the cotton component is completely biodegradable.

Nevertheless, forests are often cut down to produce cotton. Moreover, cotton is often grown in regions where water is a very scarce resource and the fields therefore have to be irrigated artificially. Thus, water is often illegally diverted from water bodies or rivers until they dry up.

In times of sustainability and zero waste, facial care is also a recurring topic. Conventional cotton pads are intended for one-time use. Now there are some alternatives for private use.

Here you have a short overview of possible alternatives for your facial care.

Variant Material Use
Washable make-up removal pads Bamboo viscose The bamboo pads can be used for facial cleansing with cleanser, as well as for applying tinctures and lotions. After use, rinse with water and use again or collect and then wash in the washing machine.
Washable make-up removal pads Polyester-polyamide These cleansing pads can be reused up to 300 times. Simply rinse with water or machine wash after facial cleansing or make-up removal.
Make-up Remover Glove Polyester-Polyamide Simply wet the glove with water, using circular motions to remove make-up. Then wash with soap and you’re done.
Sponge e.g. bamboo charcoal sponge The sponge is made wet with water and is intended to gently cleanse the skin. The excess sebum is removed. Simply rinse the sponge with water after use.

Which cotton pads are the best?

Just like with other products, it depends on the consumer what demands, ideas and expectations he or she has of the product.

That’s why it’s difficult to pick a winner. Nevertheless, there is a manufacturer by the name of Demak’Up, which stands out somewhat from the noname brands. They have cotton pads in different sizes, shapes and for different skin types. So if your skin is very sensitive, you should definitely try this brand.

The experts from ÖKO-Test have tested some cotton pads and described their test procedure.

This test procedure includes a test for optical brighteners. These cause allergic reactions in direct skin contact and with simultaneous exposure to sunlight. In the evaluation of the test, it was mentioned that the tested products contain these optical brighteners.


Can you reuse cotton pads?

Often, cotton pads are no longer usable after a few seconds, because everything is already smeared with black mascara and eyeliner, and end up directly in the trash. Unfortunately, there is no way to reuse them.

Did you know that there is an environmentally friendly version of cotton pads?

The eco-conscious fabric version is a good alternative to conventional disposable pads because they are reusable. They are made of 100% cotton and are therefore suitable for cleaning in the washing machine.

Until now, there is no way to reuse cotton cosmetic pads as cosmetic pads, as they would be totally destroyed during cleaning.

Decision: What types of cotton pads are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between two types of cotton pads:

  • Round cotton pads
  • Rectangular cotton pads

Cotton pads are often used on a daily basis. They are mainly used to remove make-up in the evening and to remove polish from the nails. They are also used for various cosmetic applications. Cotton pads come in different sizes and shapes. Depending on the area of application, different types can be advantageous.

Depending on the cotton pad, the surfaces are smooth or ribbed and are particularly suitable for certain areas of application. Furthermore, they differ in terms of their cultivation, which may follow organic guidelines.

Surface Application
Smooth Spread lotions and creams optimally
Ribbed Remove make-up, mascara etc.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of round cotton pads?

Small, round cotton pads are perfect all-rounders. They are characterised above all by their practical handling and good use in everyday life. They can be used not only for removing make-up, but also for removing nail polish or other cosmetic applications.

Moreover, they are not only available in drugstores, but also in almost all supermarkets for less than one euro. The pads have become a standard item. Most cotton pads absorb moisture very quickly and disintegrate quite quickly with intensive use.

  • Practical handling
  • Low price
  • Ideal for everyday use
  • Suitable for removing make-up
  • Single use
  • Small surface
  • Soften quickly

Accordingly, cotton pads are only used once, after which they are disposed of. On the one hand, they are dirty after a single use and, on top of that, they dry badly. Another disadvantage is the small surface, which does not absorb much dirt.

When removing a complete make-up application, several cotton pads are needed to clean the face completely. Because they are made of pure wool, cotton pads are very moisturising, but even with little liquid, the pads soak quickly, which can lead to unpleasant consequences.

What distinguishes rectangular cotton pads and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Rectangular cotton pads are particularly well suited for targeted application. They can be used not only for facial application and for removing nail polish, but also for cleaning wounds. Often, rectangular cotton pads are also characterised by a higher density.

This means they lint less and cannot stick. For this reason, they are suitable for light wounds. There are also larger rectangular cotton pads, which are very practical for cleaning a baby and especially when changing nappies. Furthermore, rectangular cotton pads are more space-saving in storage than round pads.

  • Spot targeted application
  • Higher density cotton wool
  • Suitable for cleaning wounds
  • Easier baby cleaning
  • Space-saving storage
  • Single use
  • Soak through quickly
  • Available in a few supermarkets

For everyday use for cosmetic applications, the small rectangular cotton pads are rather impractical because they cannot adapt to the shape of the face. Moreover, due to lower demand, rectangular cotton pads are very rarely available in supermarkets, but they are available in most drugstores.

Finally, it remains to be mentioned that rectangular cotton pads mostly have a smooth surface and there are no additional structures for further cleansing effects.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate cotton pads

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate cotton pads. This will make it easier for you to decide whether certain cotton pads are right for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Size
  • Organic
  • Sample

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.


Basically, there are two different sizes of cosmetic cotton pads – normal and large. However, there are also other types, such as cotton pads for babies or for e-cigarettes.

Here, however, we would like to focus mainly on cosmetic cotton pads. The normal cotton pads are available in every supermarket and drugstore. On the other hand, you can buy the cotton pads that are about twice as big almost exclusively in the drugstore. These are available in a round or oval shape. It is up to you to decide which one you prefer.

Nahaufnahme Hand und Wattepad

Cotton pads come in different sizes – depending on what you use them for. (Photo: chezbeate /

Organic cultivation

The demand for organic products is also increasing more and more in the cosmetics industry. That’s why there are now even cotton pads made from organic cotton.

These are available in drugstores for as little as about 1€, whereby strict attention is paid to the cultivation of cotton to ensure that all guidelines are adhered to.

Nevertheless, even cotton pads from organic cultivation are not necessarily more environmentally friendly, as the cultivation areas are often located in dry regions and the fields have to be irrigated artificially. This in turn leads to seepage into the waters or rivers in the immediate vicinity.


If you have ever carefully compared the cotton pads, you will have noticed that some of them have a pattern pressed into the cotton. This, in turn, is supposed to ensure that your eye make-up in particular remains firmly in the pad and is not released again during further cleaning.

And yes, it’s true, pads with “embossing” make even your waterproof eye make-up easier to remove and keep the dirt inside. However, this option can often cost a few cents more. However, it is worth it, especially with waterproof make-up, to be able to remove it as gently as possible.

Interesting facts about cotton pads

Can you throw cotton pads down the toilet?

In general, you should be careful not to throw cotton pads down the toilet, as this can lead to a blockage in the toilet in the worst case.

It’s best to just throw them in a bin.

How can you store cotton pads?

The packaging of most cotton pads is often a rather unsightly plastic wrapper. If you still want to store the pads hygienically in a nice box, you are now spoilt for choice with hundreds of options.

Often, the fluffy pads are stored in a cylindrical container with a pretty lid. This is not only practical, but also pleasing to the eye. You can buy these containers at DM, Rossmann or Amazon.

Alternatively, you can also make your own storage for your cotton pads. You can find many step-by-step instructions on YouTube.

How do I dispose of cotton pads?

Cotton pads are generally biodegradable, but does that make them suitable for organic waste? No, you should only dispose of cotton pads in the normal waste.

Especially if you have previously used them to clean your face with various products or to polish your nails, you should only dispose of your cotton pads in the household waste. If unpleasant odours remain, e.g. from nail polish remover, it is best to buy a bin with a lid.

Image source: / alterphoto