How to Clean Your Ears: The Harmless Methods and Those to Avoid

by Kremy

Some people use cotton buds, while others say ear candles are the best way to clean their ears. Indeed, putting anything in the ear canal is a bad idea. In general, ears clean themselves and do not need additional care. The only reason you’d need to take care of them is to soften and remove an obstruction that’s deep inside. And if you want to do it, you have to know how to do it carefully. Here are the best ways how to clean your ears and those that hide a risk!

How Do You Know If You Have a Buildup in Your Ears?

what is the best way to clean your ears

Earwax is a self-cleaning agent produced by the body. It collects dirt and bacteria. In fact, earwax is naturally discharged from the ears through chewing and other jaw movements. This is why many people never need to clean their ears. However, sometimes it accumulates and affects hearing.

The symptoms of earwax build-up are as follows:

  • Pain or fullness in the ear
  • Sensation of a blocked ear
  • Partial hearing loss that worsens over time
  • Ringing in the ear called tinnitus
  • Itching, or odor from the ear
  • Cough

What’s the Best Way to Clean Your Ears?

how to clean your ears properly


Sometimes trying to clean your ears the wrong way causes more trouble than it’s worth. If earwax is becoming a nuisance, experts recommend several simple methods of removing it.

Special Ear Cleaning Drops

If the amount of earwax is small, over-the-counter ear cleaners are effective. Look for drops containing hydrogen peroxide. Here’s how to use them:

  • Lie on your side. Make sure the ear you are cleaning is facing up and add the drops as indicated.
  • Let the cleaning solution sit in your ear for about five minutes. This allows the liquid to soak in and soften the earwax.
  • When you stand up, the liquid should drain out along with the loosened earwax.
  • Prepare a tissue paper to collect everything.

Ear cleaning drops may be ineffective if you have too much earwax or when the ear canal is blocked with a firm buildup.

Bulb Syringe

If ear-cleaning drops don’t work, it may be necessary to rinse the ears with a bulb syringe, available in pharmacies.

Fill the syringe with lukewarm water (neither too cold nor too hot), place it near the opening of the ear and squeeze the bulb very gently to avoid damaging your eardrum. The water will flood the ear canal and break up the earwax. Turn your head to the side over a sink to let the fluid (and, ideally, earwax) drain out.

Caution: Do not use the flushing method if you have a hole in your eardrum or have already had an operation!

Earwax Removal Methods to Avoid

how to clean your ears without a cotton bud

Experts recommend avoiding these two remedies:

Cotton Buds

Cotton buds should not be inserted into the ear canal. The tip pushes the earwax deeper, and the more you use it, the worse the situation becomes. In addition, if you push too far, you risk puncturing your eardrum. Or if you scratch your ear canal, it can become infected because dirt and bacteria can then get under the skin.

Ear Candles

Candles are ineffective and may burn you.

How Often Should I Clean My Ears?

how to clean inside the ear

Do not clean your ears too often. This could irritate your ear canal or even cause a larger blockage if not done properly.

If you don’t have a problem with earwax buildup, wash only the outer part of your ears by wiping them with a damp washcloth. Washing the outer ear should remove any dirt that has come out of the ear canal on its own.

If you have symptoms of earwax buildup, you may want to consider using an over-the-counter kit. Follow the instructions on the package and remember to contact a doctor for further advice.


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