The Q stands for quality and the word tip describes the cotton swab on the end of the stick.
In 1922, Leo Gerstenzang, an immigrant from Warsaw, Poland, who had served in the U.S. Army during World War I and worked with the fledgling Red Cross Organization, founded the Leo Gerstenrang Infant Novelty Co. with his wife, selling accessories used for baby care. After the birth of the couple's daughter, Gerstenzang noticed that his wife would wrap a wad of cotton around a toothpick for use during their baby's bath and decided to manufacture a ready-to-use cotton swab.
After several years, Gerstenzang developed a machine that would wrap cotton uniformly around each blunt end of a small stick of carefully selected and cured non-splintering birch wood, package the swabs in a sliding tray type box, sterilize the box, and seal it with an outer wrapping of glassine (later changed to cellophane). The phrase "untouched by human hands" became widely known in the production of cotton swabs.
Q-tips Cotton Swabs were originally called "Baby Gays."
The principle Q-tips manufacturing plant in Long Island City, New York, produces Q-tips Cotton Swabs around-the-clock.
The science library at Brandeis University is named after Leo Gerstenzang.
Q-tips Cotton Swabs is the best-selling baby product in the United States and the best-selling cotton applicator swabs in the world.