How to clean your ears

Ear wax is normal even if you think your auricles produce superfluous. A yellowish-brown waxy secretion, ear wax serves many functions. Besides its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, it safeguards the outer ear canal from the invasion of insects and bugs. If there were no ear wax, your hearing organs would flood with water while swimming. Acting as a moisturizer and a lubricant, ear wax aids delivery of therapeutic ingredients at the same time of protecting the eardrum from any potential injury. The study of Human migratory patterns takes into account such intricate details as the type of wax found in your ears. Depending upon dry or wet varieties, which represents certain genes, anthropologists link different ancestral connections.

The regular movements of jaws steadily push the ear wax outwards. So should one make an active attempt at removing ear wax? The answer is yes. There comes a point when removing ear wax is necessary. Elderly often present with hard dried wax. Likewise, individuals with developmental delays may require active intervention. Frequent wearing of devices as in-ear headphones, earplugs or hearing aids act as a stimulus to more wax production in the ears. If the ear canal is anatomically narrow, a small amount of wax may also block the outer canal calling for frequent removal of wax.

Some of the grounds that call for effective wax removal are

  • Disruption of ear function, i.e. transient hearing loss that worsens with time
  • An earache
  • A feeling of fullness in one or both ears
  • Tinnitus: buzzing or ringing in ears
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • When wax production exceeds the self-cleaning speed

However, the subject of how to clean your ears remains debatable. While your nana may enlist traditional remedies to get rid of the ear wax, experts advise consulting an ENT specialist for this endeavor. So no matter how irresistible and satisfying it may seem, do not insert cotton buds into your ears. It pushes the wax further deep into the canal while damaging it at the same time, sending unwanted invites to all sorts of infections.

How to properly clean your ears at home

clean your ears at home

  • A gentle wipe

Regular cleaning practices always pay off. It is true for our ears too. Where over-enthusiasm as regards to cleaning ear wax is discouraged, a regular wipe with damp cloth or towel is recommended. It is best to do it after you have taken a shower. Just wipe the external ear with a clean towel, dabbing a bit at the ear opening. The wax usually softens after a hot bath. Swiping with a damp cloth facilitates the natural movement of wax outwards. Do it on a regular basis and fight back the urge to put a cotton swab inside your ear.

  • Use eardrops

If your ears feel full, you can put a drop or two of wax softeners. Available as over-the-counter preparations, the drops softens the wax and makes their way out easier. Required to be used only once or twice daily, few drops deliver results within a day or two depending upon the texture of wax. A little rinse is all that is required.

These usually contain glycerin, baby oil, mineral oil, saline or peroxide as solutions. Hydrogen peroxide is another cost-effective solution for removing wax. However, it requires a strength of 3-4% to clean out the ear wax. An equal ratio of water and vinegar also make efficient wax removal remedy.

Eardrops have a high safety margin among all the home-based remedies for effective wax removal. However, if there is any evidence of injury, they are best avoided. See a specialist instead. As with other medicines, always follow the instructions.

Lie down on your side with the affected ear facing upwards

With one hand, lift your ear a little upward and outwards

Instill the required number of drops

Wait for few minutes to let the drops work their way in

Sit up after few minutes and blot the liquid coming from the ears

Repeat in the other ear

Methods of cleaning out ear wax at the clinic

Methods of cleaning out ear wax at the clinic

Though effective generally, eardrops may not provide a complete solution to hard, long-standing cases of wax plugs. They only help soften the wax. Never use cotton buds for wax removal. You will be pushing the wax down in the ear canal making it stick to the eardrum. The most frequent of all ear problems arise from this simple yet ineffective way of wax removal.

The eardrum is a sensitive tissue that gets damaged by inept wax removal techniques. Seeking professional help is advisable. Using ear drops or ear sprays a few days before appointment aids any therapeutic intervention your doctor may advise. How to clean out your ears? Consider the following options.

  • Irrigation
  • Syringing
  • Micro-suction ear wax removal


A safe method to remove ear wax, irrigation involves spray machine that washes the outer ear canal. A saline solution is usually used for washing purpose. The temperature of the solution is kept at body temperature to avoid side effects as vertigo or dizziness. A container placed by the ear collects the drainage. The ear is pulled upwards and a little back so as to straighten the ear canal. The solution is sprayed so as to wash the roof of the canal and avoid direct impact with the eardrum. Repetition is required at the end of which the ear is mopped dry and checked to ensure complete removal of wax.


Though simple procedure similar to irrigation, syringing has its drawbacks. Firstly, it does not cater to the complete removal of wax. Secondly, there are chances of eardrum perforations as well as increased probability of ear infections. The procedure is not a favorite with ENT experts.

Micro-suction removal of wax

Micro-suction removal of wax

Considered a gold standard, micro-suction is the latest among therapeutic interventions used by professionals. Using a specialized microscope, the specialist keeps an eye on the entire ear canal maintaining a high level of safety and precaution.  The procedure does not require any solution. A medical grade vacuum pump gently extracts all the wax. A no-fuss, no-mess procedure, micro-suction is big on saving time. If you want a comfortable and cost-effective means of cleaning the wax out of your ears, go for micro-suction.

Take home message

One of the normal physiological defense of our body, ear wax need to stay where it is. If it causes symptoms as feeling or fullness, impaired hearing or dizziness, a consultation with a specialist is advised. Home-based remedies do not cater to proper cleansing of ear wax. Adopt certified methods of ear wax removal to avoid damage to one of the most important body part.

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