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How to Safely Clean Your Ears? Hint: It Doesn’t Include Q-Tips

If you’re looking to learn how to safely clean your ears at home, you may be experiencing excessive buildup of earwax or ear blockage. In fact, this is an extremely common issue that most people experience at some point in their life. While having an impacted ear is common, the process of wax removal is a very delicate procedure best performed by the experienced professionals at North Shore Hearing P.C. 

Simply put, if your ear canal is entirely blocked, you shouldn’t attempt to perform the removal on your own. On the other hand, if your ear canal is only slightly dirty or you only have a partial blockage, you can use the following instructions to safely clean your ears at home. Continue reading to learn more about how to clean your ears at home. 

Ear Wax Is Important!

ear wax is how your body protects and lubricates the ear. The American Academy of Otolaryngology suggests ear wax has antibacterial properties and can help protect the ears from infections. Because of this, most people do not need to clean their ears. 

As you chew and move your jaw, excessive wax is naturally pushed out of the canal onto the outer ear. Once it gets there, it will eventually dry up and flake off. Cleaning your ears too often can cause itchy, dry ears. Simply put, cleaning out ear wax that isn’t causing symptoms isn’t recommended and typically isn’t needed. 

Ear Blockage 

When ear wax accumulates in your ear, you may experience minor hearing loss as well as ear irritation. In addition to experiencing a fullness in the ear sensation, other signs of an ear blockage include:

How to Safely Clean Your Ears at Home? 

As a reminder, if your ear canal is entirely blocked, you should reach out to the team at North Shore Hearing P.C. for professional wax removal. At the same time, if you have narrow ear canals, you will find better success by scheduling an appointment with our team. 

Use Warm Water to Clean Your Ears at Home

Get started by running saline or warm water into your ear canal. You may also be able to use an irrigation kit. You should only do this if your eardrums are intact and you have no signs of perforation, such as pus drainage, bloody drainage, or ear pain. Within a few minutes, the luke warm water will often the ear wax, which will allow it to drain out of your outer ear. 

You can perform this method by letting a little bit of warm water enter your ear while you are showering. Moving your jaw or chewing may be an effective way to help old ear wax out of the ear canal. In either case, you should wipe it off of your ear lobe with a cotton ball or cloth once the old ear wax makes it to the ear opening. 

OTC ear waxSoftener Can Clean Ears Safely

Over-the-counter ear wax softeners can help remove blockages. ear wax softeners commonly contain peroxide, mineral oil, glycerin, baby oil, saline, and hydrogen peroxide. You can use the instructions on the package, which will typically involve putting a specific number drops into the ear, waiting, and then rinsing your ear or allowing them to drain. In either case, make sure to follow the instructions on the package. 

The Syringe Process

You can also use a syringe to help irrigate your ear. To do so, gently rinse your ear canal using saline solution or water. You’ll find the most success with this method if you've used an ear wax softener approximately 30 minutes prior to irrigating. 

Can I Safely Clean My Ears with Q-Tips? 

While many people use Q-tips to clean their ears, it doesn’t mean it’s right or safe. If you read the packaging of the Q-tips, it clearly warns you against inserting them into your ear canal. Why? Because usually when people insert the Q-tip in their ear canal, they end up pushing ear wax further into the ear and compressing it. This tends to make any problem much worse. 

At the same time, using Q-tips to clean your ears can cause damage and even lead to different levels of hearing loss! This is because cleaning your ears too much can increase the likelihood of ear wax impaction and even cause infections. 

As a general rule of thumb, you should never stick tiny objects into your ear canal. And if you have ever had a ruptured eardrum, ear surgery, ear drainage, or ear pain, you should be especially cautious of Q-tips. 

Can I Safely Clean My Ears with Candles?

The process of using a candle to clean the ear is called ear candling. Even if some people boast about the effectiveness of this method, the experts at North Shore Hearing P.C. do not recommend it at all. Primarily due to the fact that hot candle wax can cause serious injuries and damage to the ear, which can lead to permanent ear canal damage. 

Contact North Shore Hearing P.C. 

When it comes to protecting your ears and hearing, the experts at North Shore Hearing P.C. will be with you every step of the way! 

Contact North Shore Hearing P.C. today to schedule an appointment.

Diane Faulknor, MA, CCC/A

After 18 years of experience in the field of audiology and hearing aid dispensing, I felt it was time to start my own practice which has led to the creation of North Shore Hearing, P.C. I take pride in the care I provide for my patients as hearing is not just a medical issues we need to deal with, but also the social and lifestyle ramifications that people with poor hearing live with on a day-to-day basis. Based on not only your hearing loss, but also the type of lifestyle you lead, we'll work together to fit you with the most appropriate hearing aid available in today's marketplace.