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How to Clean Your Ears Safely

Otolaryngologist doing ear irrigation and earwax removal to a young adult woman with modern medical equipment.

Your ears are delicate structures with self-cleaning capabilities, but it’s possible for earwax to build up. Here are some tips for safely removing it.

What’s the Purpose of Earwax?

Earwax, or cerumen, is produced by glands in your ear canal. It protects your inner ear from dirt, debris and bacteria. It’s also a lubricant that keeps your ears from becoming dry and itchy. Old wax is expelled naturally with jaw movement.

3 Ways to Clean Your Ears

Professional Ear Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning your ears, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Audiologists have the training and equipment to clear impacted earwax safely. They complete an otoscopy and remove wax with a curette, vacuum or irrigation tool.  

Damp Cloth or Cotton Ball

Soak a cloth or cotton ball with warm water, mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide or saline and press it against one ear at a time.

Tilt your head toward your opposite shoulder and let the liquid drip into your ear to soften the wax. Soak your ear for a few minutes then straighten your head to drain the solution.

Over-the-Counter Ear Drops

Ear drops lubricate your ear canal and can dislodge blockages. Over-the-counter ear drops may contain baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin or peroxide to dry out excess cerumen. Tilt your head and allow the drops to sit in your ear for three to five minutes before draining and drying your ear canal.

Ear-Cleaning Techniques to Avoid

Ear candling: That process involves inserting a cone-shaped wax tube into your outer ear. A candle is placed into the cone and lit to supposedly create a vacuum or soften compacted wax. The effectiveness of ear candling is debated. It can also result in burns and ear drum punctures.

Cotton swabs and other objects: Using a Q-Tip can be detrimental to your hearing health. Cotton swabs, bobby pins or other objects push ear wax deeper into your canal, causing it to compact. You could also perforate or puncture your eardrum if you go too far into your ear.

Ear cleaning kits: Those kits include a spade- or drill-shaped tool designed to pull wax out of your ear. They’re more likely to push cerumen toward your inner ear and can damage your eardrum.

How Often Should I Clean My Ears?

The shape of your ear canal and the rate of wax production could require you to clean your ears regularly. You may also experience buildup more frequently if you have hearing aids or wear earbuds often.

Safe Earwax Removal Service at Hearing Associates

Are you dealing with pain, discomfort or infection caused by earwax buildup? Our expert team offers pain-free earwax removal services for current hearing aid patients. Call 888-760-2032 or schedule your appointment online.