• Dr. Beki Kellogg

How to Safely Clean Your Ears

The task of cleaning your ears can seem to be straightforward, yet washing your ears

may not be as beneficial as you might imagine and if done improperly may even be

harmful.


The primary reason for the temptation to clean your ears is because of a buildup of the

waxy substance in them. This substance, commonly referred to as earwax, is medically

referred to as cerumen and is completely normal for your body to produce. This waxy

product is actually incredibly helpful in protecting and lubricating your ears – without

earwax, the ears may end up feeling itchy and/or dry. As you have probably heard

already, doctors tend to recommend leaving it alone and caution against putting

anything foreign in your ear as it could potentially lead to other serious problems (e.g.,

infection, eardrum rupture, etc.). Although, if you find that your ear canals feel as if they

are becoming blocked/plugged by earwax and are wanting something to do to help,

there are a few things that you can do.


What You Should Do

If you are going to attempt to remove this buildup, we recommend utilizing a warm/wet

washcloth to gently go around the outside of your ear canals. In addition to this, while in

the shower, you may put a cap full of hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil or glycerin in your

ear to soften the wax. We advise doing this while in the shower, because the wax has

already begun to soften while in the humid environment – just like your nose! Allow the

solution to sit in the ear for ~30 seconds before tilting your head to drain the liquid.

Additionally, there are over-the-counter wax kits, if the problem seems to be more

stubborn.


What You Shouldn't Do

Finally, to address the ever-so-popular Q-Tip, these are not recommended within the

ear canal. However, if you are going to use Q-Tips against our advice, it is very

important that you do not go too deep into the canal; if utilizing this item, lean towards

the side of caution and stay very shallow within the canal. Absolutely do not use other

items like keys, paperclips and bobby-pins to clean your ears. Items like these are very

sharp and can cause a lot of damage to the inner ear which can lead to even bigger

issues in the short and long terms.


When in Doubt, Consult a Professional

In summarization, if you are going to be cleaning your ears, start by softening them up

first and be very cautious with what items that are going into your ears. Ideally, it is

recommended that you visit an audiologist to help out with these issues. Here at Hope

Hearing & Tinnitus Center we understand that certain people are at a higher risk for

cerumen issues than others, and if you find yourself suffering from excess earwax, we

also recommend talking to one of our specialists about strategies to prevent this.

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