Proper Ways to Clean Your Ears
Your ears produce wax to keep your ear canals lubricated, to ward off bacteria and keep debris away from the eardrum. It’s a good thing. But sometimes we have too much of a good thing. It’s important to properly clean your ears to remove excess wax. While there are a number of ways to clean your ears at home that are considered safe, make sure you talk to your audiologist before trying these methods to ensure it’s the proper action to take.
Use hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide foams when it comes in contact with oxygen. This foaming action can be harnessed to remove earwax from the walls of the ear canal. Just place four to five drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear and lay on your side so that the treated ear is up. Stay in this position for at least five minutes. You will probably hear a fizzing noise and feel a bit of a tickle as the peroxide foams. After five minutes sit up and wipe the ear with a cotton ball. Don’t expect large pieces of hard earwax to fall out. This method simply softens the earwax so that your body can naturally expel the earwax while you talk and chew. Repeat process for the other ear if necessary. You may need to use this method a few times a week until the wax clears.
Use mineral oil
The wax in your ears contains oil. Because oils are attracted to one another, you can use certain oils to remove earwax. Mineral oil (not baby oil) works great. Just place three to four drops of room temperature or slightly warmed baby oil in the ear. Lay on your side with the treated ear facing the ceiling. Maintain this position for 10-20 minutes. The mineral oil will soften the earwax and draw it away from the walls of the ear canal. When you roll over to treat the other ear, some of the wax will drain onto the cotton ball. The rest will naturally work its way out through the actions of chewing and speaking.
Use a washcloth
Most earwax can be removed after it has worked its way out of the ear canal. Just use a washcloth moistened with warm water and a little soap. Be sure to rinse and dry to keep the skin from drying out.
What not to do
There are several methods of cleaning out wax that can damage your ears. Never use the following to clean your ears:
- Cotton swabs
- Ballpoint pens
- Bobby pins
If you are interested in alternative health, you may have heard of ear candles. Ear candling is very dangerous and even the FDA called ear candles "dangerous to health when used in the dosage or manner, or with the frequency or duration, prescribed, recommended or suggested” so save the candles for a romantic dinner.
If you have earwax that is impacted, hardened, or is causing discomfort, see an audiologist for professional removal. Audiologists have the tools and training to safely remove earwax without damaging your ears or hearing.