How to clean your ears safely

Presse Santé

Earwax is a way for the body to lubricate and protect the ear. It is usually not necessary to clean your ears, but sometimes earwax and other impurities accumulate. Cerumen or earwax slowly leaves the body. Chewing and jaw movements push earwax out of the canal into the outer ear. When earwax and dead skin it collects reach the outer ear, it dries and peels off. Earwax has natural antibacterial properties that can help protect the ear from infection.

Cleaning your ear too often can lead to dry and itchy ears. Using an object such as a cotton swab to clean the earwax can actually push it back into the ear. Cleaning earwax, which does not cause any symptoms, is usually not necessary or recommended. However, sometimes a person may need to clean his ears if earwax or debris has accumulated to such an extent that it has caused symptoms such as muffled hearing. In this article, you will learn how to clean your ears at home.

How to clean your ears

The safest approach to cleaning your ears is to see a doctor or other healthcare professional, as they may use specialized tools to safely remove excess earwax or dirt.

These tools may include

suction device
spoon shaped tool

Your doctor can also help determine if there are other underlying medical conditions that require attention. If you still want to clean your ears at home, you can try one of the following methods:

Using a damp cloth

One can dampen a cloth or paper towel with warm water. After squeezing the excess, the cloth can be used to clean the outer areas of the ear. It is never good to put an object in your ear.

Mineral oil or traditional ear drops

It is possible to buy ear drops for home use, over-the-counter. There are also several solutions that can be used in the form of drops to release earwax and make it easier to remove.

These solutions include

baby oil
mineral oil


One can buy an irrigation kit that uses plain water or a combination of water and saline, or one can see a doctor for professional irrigation. The use of ear drops before rinsing may help.

To start the procedure, one should warm the water and ear drops to body temperature before application to avoid side effects such as dizziness. However, care must be taken not to overheat the solution, as this could cause burns. To rinse the ear, a person uses a syringe and draws water or saline into the ear canal. Ear drops applied before rinsing should sit in the ear for about 15 to 30 minutes with the head tilted to the side.

Some people should not use earwashes if they have:

holes in their eardrum
eczema or other skin conditions in or near the ear
weakened immune system
tube in the eardrum

Methods to avoid

One of the most common methods people clean their ears at home is cotton swabs. The risks of using cotton swabs are:

pushing earwax deeper into the ear
slow down the natural process of removing earwax
injure the eardrum
put a cotton swab in your ear

Cleaning the ears with earwax plugs involves inserting a wax-coated narrowed tissue into the ear canal. The individual then ignites the exposed end of the fabric so that it burns. This method can lead to:

skin burns
clogged wax in the ear
home fires
holes in the diaphragm between the ear canal and the middle ear
perforated eardrum
It is never good to insert the object directly into the ear, as this could injure and push the earwax further. Too frequent ear cleaning can remove earwax, which protects it from bacteria and other impurities.

Symptoms of earwax blockage

When earwax accumulates in the ear, one may experience mild hearing loss and ear irritation. One can also feel a feeling of fullness in the ear. In some cases, it can go hand in hand with ear pain.

When to consult a doctor

The doctor can diagnose ear infections and remove blockages of the earwax. A person should see their doctor if they suffer from earwax blockage and are not comfortable using a home cleaning solution.

A person should also see their doctor if they have symptoms of an ear infection, such as:

pain in or around the ear
fluid leakage from the ear
hearing problems

In addition to acute infections, one should see one’s doctor for recurrent blockages. Your doctor can discuss ways to prevent this. The person can schedule regular cleaning with their doctor to keep their ears clean and free of blockages.

Earwax plays a basic role in keeping the ears free of dirt and bacteria. In most cases, earwax leaves the body naturally without intervention. Having a doctor or other healthcare professional remove excess earwax is the safest and most effective way to remove a blockage. For those interested in a home solution, there are several safe methods that do not risk the insertion of objects into the ears.

* Presse Santé strives to impart health knowledge in a language accessible to all. IN NO EVENT can the information provided replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

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