Don’t Use the Cotton Buds Anymore: A Doctor Discovered the Most Effective Way for Cleaning Ears

Good intentions to keep ears clean may be risking the ability to hear. The ear is a delicate and intricate area, including the skin of the ear canal and the eardrum. Therefore, special care should be given to this part of the body. Start by discontinuing the use of cotton-tipped applicators and the habit of probing the ears.


Ear wax is a problem everyone has to deal with. The human body produces ear wax as a protective measure (keeping out bacteria, bugs, and dirt), but sometimes TOO MUCH ear wax is produced. When that happens, you have two choices:

  1. Suffer from deafness (yes, the ear wax can clog your ears and reduce hearing)
  2. Clean your ears

Read on to find out how to properly clean your ears! We’ve got advice on the proper way to clean your ears (Should you use hydrogen peroxide? Candling? Cotton swabs? The tip of your car keys?), the various tools you can use to get rid of excess ear wax, and more.

As much as we love that so fresh, so clean feeling, if you have any willpower, wean yourself off cotton swabs. They do much more harm than good, and excessive ear cleaning will almost certainly land you in the doctor’s office, says Leon Chen, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat doctor at Manhattan’s ENT and Allergy Associates. While you may see a satisfying bit of yellow on the cotton bud, chances are you’re actually pushing most of the wax deeper into your ear canal, past where it’s naturally produced (and ideally should stay).

But we’re not exactly known for our willpower. So limit your cleaning to three times per month, and only clean after a shower since the heat causes the wax to melt, says Dale Tylor, M.D., a pediatric and general otolaryngologist at Washington Township Medical Foundation in Fremont, CA. She advises people to ditch Q-tips and go for an oil and hydrogen peroxide routine instead. Once a week before bedtime,

She advises people to ditch Q-tips and go for an oil and hydrogen peroxide routine instead. Once a week before bedtime, fill an eyedropper with olive, mineral, or baby oil. Put up to three drops inside each ear, and massage the triangle of cartilage that covers your ear to coat your ear canal. Follow up with a cotton ball to keep the oil off your pillowcase. The next day when you’re in the shower, place hydrogen peroxide on your hand and rub it into your ear. The peroxide will bubble out, taking the softened wax with it and leaving you wax- and worry-free.



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