Guide to Medical and Sterile Swabs

Medical and sterile swabs are essential devices in medical operations. These single-use tools are designed and fabricated for diverse applications, including wound treatment, specimen collection and even equipment cleanup.

It is important to note that there are different types of swabs available for varying uses.

If you are on the market for swabs for your work environment, you must evaluate the available options before making your purchase.

Here is a simple guide on the different medical swabs, their benefits and uses to help you select the best products.

Calcium Alginate Tipped Swabs

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate (Nasopharyngeal) Swab, Mini-Tip, 5.4", Aluminum Shaft

Puritan Sterile 5.4″ Long Calcium Alginate (Nasopharyngeal) Swab

Calcium alginate swabs have organic tips. These tips are fabricated using a material derived from seaweed. These products are primarily used for specimen collection, but they are also quite advantageous in wound treatment.

The primary benefit of using calcium alginate swabs over alternatives is the biodegradability.

The fibers on the body and around wounds from the tips will degrade naturally, eliminating residues.

Learn More About Calcium Alginate Swabs

Sterile Cotton Tip Swabs

Puritan Sterile Swabs: Cotton Swab, 6", Wood Shaft

Puritan Sterile 6″ Long Cotton Swab, Wood shaft

If you are looking for general purpose medical swabs, you should choose cotton tip products. These tools are low-cost items which are perfect for high volume needs. Moreover, the products have desirable properties such as high absorbency, safety and softness.

Cotton swabs can be used for wound treatment, cleaning and dressing application.

You can also use the swab for sample collection and DNA testing, but you should use DNA free cotton swabs for the most accurate results.

Read More About DNA Collection:

Sterile Flocked Tipped Swabs

Sterile PurFlock Ultra Flocked Sterile Swab, Elongated Tip, 500/cs

Sterile PurFlock Ultra Flocked Swab

You should choose flocked medical swabs if you are on the market for specimen collection tools. These swabs are specially manufactured to guarantee superior performance in this application.

The flocked tip of the swab is made by arranging multi-length polyester fibers with split ends uniformly around the shaft.

Unlike other swabs, the collection of specimen does not depend on absorption. Instead, the collection relies on the special design, guaranteeing the best extraction performance.

Sterile Foam Swabs

Puritan Foam Sterile Swab, Large Tip, 5" Polypropylene Shaft, 50/box

Puritan Sterile Foam Swab, Large Tip

Foam tip medical swabs are fabricated using medical-grade polyurethane foam.

The high absorbency of the foam makes the product beneficial for specimen collection and testing applications.

The soft, nonabrasive nature of the foam is suitable if you are looking for swabs to clean your delicate equipment. Moreover, it is important to note that the material can withstand exposure to chemicals which compromise other types of tips.

OB/GYN & Proctoscopic Sterile Swabs

Puritan Sterile Polyester Swab, Regular Tip, 6", Polystyrene Shaft

Puritan Jumbo Tip Cotton Swab, 8″, Paper Shaft

You should select special OBGYN medical swabs if you are looking to acquire products for gynecological examination and preparation.

These medical tools are designed and fabricated with oversized tips, guaranteeing efficient application.

The OBGYN swabs are sterile, highly absorbent and latex-free. When shopping for your swabs, you can purchase rayon or cotton tips. Also, consider acquiring cervical scrapers and collection devices along with your swabs for efficiency.

Sterile Polyester Tip Swabs

Puritan Sterile Polyester Swab, Regular Tip, 6", Polystyrene Shaft

Puritan Sterile Polyester Swab

If your laboratory or other medical space requires swabs for biological tests, it is important to consider polyester tip swabs.

These sterile devices are made using medical-grade polyester which is compatible with most lab tests.

For instance, the polyester tip swabs can be used in PCR testing, rapid test diagnostics and general microbiological analysis. The product is also useful in specimen collection, and its exceptional sterility will prevent sample contamination.

Sterile Rayon Swabs

Puritan Sterile Rayon Swab, Regular Tip, 6", Wood Shaft, 1000/cs

Puritan Sterile Rayon Swab

Rayon medical swabs are ideal for use in medical applications where cotton-tipped products are unsuitable.

Their soft and absorbent nature makes these swabs perfect for specimen collection.

In general, the tips of these tools are made using wood pulp. However, the natural material is processed extensively to eliminate compounds which could contaminate the specimen. Therefore, you can collect, process and transport your samples without concern.

Sterile Wound Measurement

Puritan Sterile Wound Measurement DM Stick, Foam Tip, 6", Polystyrene Shaft

Puritan Sterile Wound Measurement DM Stick, Foam Tip

Measuring surgical wounds, lacerations and other forms of damage can expose a patient to infections. Therefore, it is important to have sterile wound measurement swabs to acquire the right readings while minimizing the risk of infections.

Wound measurement sticks and swabs are favorable because they are flexible and use a metric rule.

Also, the foam tips at the end of the shafts are perfect for undermining, packing and tunneling around the wound.

Choosing The Right Sterile Medical Swabs

Puritan Double Sterile Polyester Swabs, Regular Tip, Polystyrene Shaft

Puritan Cell Collection Twin Pack Regular Tip Polyester Swabs

Choosing and purchasing the right medical swabs for your needs is not an insurmountable process. You will only need to consider your potential application of the medical tool in your work environment.

It is also advisable to compare the different tip sizes and shaft lengths and designs. In addition, you must think about the suitability of the shaft material for your applications.

If you are interested in a range of disposable swabs and applicators, consult Harmony for more information.

Swabs & Applicators 101

Swabs & Applicators 101

What are Swabs & Applicators?

If you’ve used a Q-Tip, you already know what a swab basically is. However, there are many more uses and variations of Swabs & Applicators (AKA single-use applicators). Learn about swab tips and shaft materials, and their uses.

In general a swab is:

A small piece of absorbent material attached to the end of a stick/shaft or wire, and used for cleaning a surface, applying medicine/chemicals, or collecting a sample of a substance.

Uses for Swabs

Common uses for swabs and applicators include: cleaning hard to reach areas, applying solvents/chemicals, wound cleaning, applying medicine, collecting samples.

Single-use swabs are widely used in healthcare, diagnostic, forensic, controlled environments (cleanrooms), food safety, and drug manufacturing industries.

Swab Tip Materials

Swabs tips come in many different materials. Here are some of the most common swab tip materials.

Cotton Tip Swabs

Our cotton tip swabs are made with top pharmaceutical grade spun cotton fiber. Cotton fiber swabs are absorbent, soft, low cost, and safe for many applications. If you require low-lint for your application, cotton swabs are available in low-lint options or standard.

Whether you require 3 inch cotton swabs, 6 inch cotton swabs, or double tip cotton swabs (twice the bang for your buck!) we are sure to have the cotton swab you need.

Polyester Tip Swabs

Polyester is a synthetic fiber. Polyester tip swabs are non-absorbent. Polyester swabs also contain no fatty acids or latent sugars. This is important in the collection of specimens for testing.

Polyester swabs are a good medium for cell collection, screenings, and testing. Ideal for use in microbiology, rapid test diagnostics, and industrial surface testing.

Foam Tip Swabs

Foam swabs are made of soft, non-abrasive polyurethane foam. Foam swabs are lint and residue free. They won’t leave anything behind. Foam swabs are also shred-resistant and perfect for cleaning applications.

The foam tips are thermally bonded to the shaft, so there is no glue or bonding agents in the swab that could contaminate your environment. Foam swabs are soft enough for delicate cleaning but not too soft that they bend or fold.

Rayon Tip Swabs

Rayon is a semisynthetic fiber material made from cellulose. Rayon swabs are soft, highly absorbent and ideal for applications where cotton wouldn’t be suitable.

Rayon is low-linting. Rayon swabs are widely used in specimen collection, testing, and screening.

Flocked Tip Swabs

Flocked swabs have a unique tip structure and construction. Flocked tip swabs are comprised of multi-length fibers arranged around the applicator handle. This brush-like structure assures ultra-clean tips and reliable performance.

Unlike traditional wound fiber swabs, flocked swabs have no internal core to absorb and trap collected specimens. Flocked swabs have superior collection and release characteristics which make them ideal for specimen collection and testing purposes.

The process starts with producing the swab fiber, composed of a unique porous microchannel “fiber-within-fiber” design structure. The swab fiber is then applied to tips to produce a versatile, high-performance brush-like swab without an inner fabric or core to collect specimens. Further proprietary manufacturing processes result in multi-length, “split-end” fibers that create a greater overall surface area and tension for more rapid elution and maximal sample preservation. Scientific studies have confirmed Puritan flocked swabs provide the most efficient collection and elution on the market.

Microfiber Tip Swabs

Microfiber swabs are highly resistant to normal cleaning solvents, which make them perfect for removing contaminants and excess materials.

Microfiber tip swabs are soft, non-abrasive (wont scratch delicate surfaces!), and has excellent wipe/dry characteristics lending itself to cleaning applications.

Swab Shaft Materials

Depending your application, there are different types of swab shaft materials you should use.

Wood Shaft Swabs

Economical and rigid, these shafts do the job for many applications.  The down side?  Wood is a natural material with variations in moisture content and fracturing is possible.

Wood dust from these shafts is minimal, but in areas where particulates is a problem, wood should not be used.

Paper Shaft Swabs

Non-linting and non-conductive, these clean, white shafts are good for use in controlled environments.

Semi-rigid, they will not fracture in use, but if bent will not return to the original shape.  Paper shaft swabs cannot be sterilized by autoclaving.

Polypropylene Shaft Swabs

Very clean and non-absorbent with no particulate to shed.

Can be rigid or semi-flexible and resistant to breakage.  This plastic material will stand up to many chemicals.  Autoclaving to 250 degrees F is OK.

Polystyrene Shaft Swabs

Economical plastic shafts can be hollow or solid. Also very clean and non-absorbent, non-dusting.

Depending on the composition can fracture as needed, or be flexible for use in tight spaces.  Suitable for use with IPA. More rigid than polypropylene. This material is suited for applicators with scored break points, providing a clean break.      

Aluminum Shaft Swabs

Slender and flexible but once bent will retain the angle for precise cleaning.

Clean with no particulates, but conductive.  For medical applications, slender dimension is desirable.

Additional Types of Swabs

Anti-Static & ESD Swabs

ESD swabs have anti-static properties that make them safe for working with static-sensitive components. Anti-Static & ESD-Safe Swabs are ideal for precision cleaning, sampling, validation, and more.

ESD swabs have special antistatic handles that make them ideal for use in cleanrooms and other static-sensitive environments. We offer ESD/Anti-Static swabs that are foam tipped, polyester tipped, cotton tipped, and nonwoven tipped with anti-static attributes.

Transport Swabs

There are primarily two types of transport swabs. Dry transport swabs consist of a dry swab and transport tube or cap. Media Transport Swabs are a vial of transport medium liquid and dry swab. This “wet” transport swab keeps collected specimens suspended in a liquid medium for testing.

Both Dry Transport and Media Transport Swabs are used for collection and/or transportation of a wide range of specimens (including: bacteria, viruses, microorganisms, trace evidence, DNA, and more). The transport tube/vial contains the specimen and provides safe and stable transport.

Environmental Surface Testing Swabs

Environmental Sampling and Surface Testing swabs are used for industries in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics. Surface Testing Swabs are designed for sample collection and validation of hard to reach areas. Surface testing swabs are used to test for contamination and chemicals on surfaces.

Environmental Sampling Kits consist of a polyester tipped swab and polypropylene vial for transport with broth/solution/buffer liquid.

Medical/Sterile Swabs

Sterile/Medical Swabs have a wide range of uses. Our sterile medical swabs are offered in Rayon and Cotton, available in a variety of head shapes. Handle options include wood, plastic and biodegradable paper.

Sterile Swabs are wrapped and always fresh. Ideal for medical applications such as wound care, surgery, diagnostic testing, DNA testing, Gynecological OB/GYN screening, and more.

Wood Applicators

Wood Applicators include applicator sticks, cuticle/orange sticks, and wood medical spoons. Disposable wooden applicators are often used for specimen transfer, as mixing rods, in laboratory work, and other general purpose applications.

Our wood applicators are made with straight-cut splinter-free ends. Wood Applicator Sticks come with different bevels, points, or straight edges depending on your use need. Wood applicator sticks are biodegradable and available sterile or non-sterile.

Critical Environment (Cleanroom) Swabs

You can’t use any old swab in a Cleanroom. Critical Environment Swabs are precision manufactured, ensuring the swabs eliminate contamination and provide consistent cleanliness. Critical Environment Swabs are available in materials such as cotton, microfiber, knitted polyester, and anti-static/ESD.

Cleanroom Swabs are designed for effectively cleaning small surfaces in controlled environments and other critical environment applications. Cleanroom swabs are widely used in industries such as healthcare, diagnostics, fiber optics, electronics, semiconductors, and more.

 

When it comes to swabs and applicators, there are a lot of variations to consider depending on your usage case. With so many options we know it can get a little overwhelming. But don’t worry! We’re here to help.

If you’re not sure exactly what you need, we are available to help via Phone, Chat, or Email. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions selecting the right swab for you and your application.

Rayon Swabs: The Better Tipped Swab

rayon tipped swabs

Rayon Tipped Swabs: The Better Swab

First of all, swabs come in different sizes, formats, and materials. You need to pick the right kind for the job. Confused with the huge assortment of swabs available in the market? Learn more about rayon swabs below.

Because Rayon Swabs are soft and highly absorbent, they are a good choice for applications where cotton would not be suitable.

Rayon Swabs (preferred over cotton swabs) for specimen collection.

Swabs are generally thought of as cotton wads wrapped around on one side of a small rod.

Did you know that swabs are made with many different materials? 

Also, a majority of swabs used in the medical field are sterile and often made of synthetic material for better test results without contamination. If you are investing money in a swab, one strong option to consider should definitely be rayon swabs.

The Best Swab for the Job

With so many different kinds of swabs on the market, it can be hard to know which kind is best for your particular applications. Concerned with clinical applications? They are available in varying sizes and formats so that they are compatible with your applications and testing procedures.

Tips on Choosing the Best Swab Tip

  • The shaft of the swab is very important. Make sure that it is made of the highest quality material. Generally, you will have wood, plastic or aluminum as choices. Different shafts materials offer different flexibility and traits.
  • If the application is for nasopharyngeal or pediatric fields, you’ll want to use a rayon swab with an aluminum shaft that is ultra thin and highly flexible.
  • Look out for the swab bud. If it is for clinical purposes, the rayon swab is the best available option.

Why are Rayon Swabs Preferred?

  • Since one primary use is for clinics and medical fields, most rayon tipped swabs come wrapped individually so that there is no contamination and the medical results are accurate.
  • Rayon tips made of the top notch quality USP grade rayon fiber.
  • They are easily disposable and most are sterile.
  • Rayon swabs are available with either wooden, plastic, or aluminum shafts and you have the option to choose.

Try Out Rayon Swabs

A rayon tip swab is also considered the best for gynecological cell collection and for research work. In fact, they are without any odor or taste and thereby ideal for food industries as well. Overall, rayon swabs are better in most cases than other alternative options like cotton.

Like Mom always said, you won’t know until you try it. Try out rayon tipped swabs in your applications and see the difference today.

If you need assistance selecting the right swab for your needs just get in touch and we’ll be glad to help.

View our selection of rayon tipped swabs here.

Harmony Lab & Safety Supplies