It is true that important to keep the ears clean. But often what we fail to understand is that not only it is vital to keep the ears clean but it is also equally important that you clean the ears the right way so that no damage is done to the inner ear. 

Or else, when the ear is not cleaned properly, there can be an excessive earwax build-up making you feel that your ears have blocked up. Moreover, the earwax can get pushed towards the eardrum that can affect your hearing. 

Hence, it becomes important that you know the right procedure for cleaning the ears. Here are some points to follow.

Keep the outer ear cleanUse cotton swabs
Practice good ear hygieneUse sharp objects such as safety pins
Use products recommended only recommended by a doctorIgnore ear problems
Try home remediesUse hydrogen peroxide
Visit a professionalVacuum the ear 

How To Clean The Ears Properly?

  • Keep the outer ear clean

According to Pristyn Care E.N.T doctors, ears are organs that are self-cleaning in nature. The ear contains wax which has lubricating, protecting, and antibacterial properties.  Sometimes this can get collected in the outer parts of the ear. For this, you can clean it with a washcloth or tissue while you take a bath. This prevents earwax buildup near the eardrum.

Also Read: What does Ear Wax Indicate for Your Health?

cleaning the ear

  • Practice good ear hygiene

It is important to keep the ears clean. But it is equally important to protect the ears to decrease the chances of hearing loss. Try the following tips to protect the ears- 

  • Wear protective gear or earplugs to protect the ear from loud noises.
  • Avoid visiting very loud noises.
  • Don’t put very small objects inside the ear.
  • Make sure you take periodic breaks while using headphones. Follow the 60/60 rule. Keep the volume at 60 for not more than 60 minutes.
  • To prevent infections such as swimmer’s ear, tap the ears dry with a towel after a shower. 
  • Look out for problems such as hearing loss, maintaining balance, ringing in the ears, etc. 
  • Use products recommended only by a doctor

When there is an overproduction of earwax, there can be a buildup that can cause discomfort or hearing loss. In such cases, you can use products that can in cleaning the ear. But remember to use products such as ear drops only after proper consultation with the E.N.T doctor.

  • Try home remedies

There are certain home remedies that you can try when there earwax buildup-

  1. Soften the wax with baby oil or glycerin. Make sure to lie down with the affected ear on the upper side so that the drops can just sink in.
  2. A warm water rinse helps. Use a rubber-bulb syringe and fill it with water and squirt the water into the canal. Tilt your head on the other side to run out the water.
  3. Pat the ear dry. Make sure after cleaning the clear to dry it with a towel or blow-dryer.

 Disclaimer- Make sure you discuss these with the E.N.T doctor before trying them at home.

  • Visit a professional

Signs such as ringing in the ear or earache are an indication of some underlying cause. Without delaying the treatment in the hope that it will get better, visit an E.N.T doctor. Although these are typical signs of serious conditions, these are indications of serious conditions such as eardrum rupture or infection.

What not to do while cleaning the ear?

  • Use cotton swabs


You read that right. Don’t use cotton swabs as this can cause injury to the inner ear. Many of us use this incorrectly to clean the ears. We just insert the swabs inside the canal with the aim to clean it. This is absolutely not the correct way. What happens is that it can irritate the ear canal and push the earwax further inside the ear which can give rise to other problems. 

  • Use sharp objects such as safety pins

Similar to cotton swabs, cleaning the ear with sharp objects such as hairpin or pen to remove the earwax. This is absolutely the wrong way to clear the ear. In an attempt to clean the ear, you might eventually tear a hole or bruise the eardrum. This can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. 

  • Ignore ear problems

When it comes to getting treatment for ear problems, it should not be delayed. It is important to look out for the following symptoms pertaining to the ear-

  1. Feeling of dizziness
  2. Nauseated or vomiting
  3. Problems maintaining balance
  4. Difficulty in listening 
  5. Pain inside the ear
  6. Feeling fullness in the ear

It is time to visit the clinic if you have any one of the above-mentioned symptoms. 

  • Use hydrogen peroxide or ear candles

There is a popular belief that hydrogen peroxide can help in cleaning the ear by thinning out the ear wax. It is true that it can clean the wax but there can be side-effects also. Doctors don’t recommend hydrogen peroxide as the side effects outweigh the benefits. When excessive hydrogen peroxide is there inside the ear, it can lead to inflammation and earaches. 

  • Vacuum the ear 

Sometimes ear vacuum is used to suck out the earwax. But putting this instrument can damage the ear. This may look like a safe option but inserting this inside the canal can damage the eardrum or middle ear. 

What is Cerumen Impaction?

The earwax is a self-cleaning agent that is produced by the body. It keeps the ear clean by collecting the dirt, bacteria and other debris that enters the ear canal. Moreover, it also helps to lubricate the ears or you might feel itchy and dry. 

Usually, while chewing food the old earwax moves out of the ear canal and gets collected in the opening. The earwax dries up here and eventually falls out. 

But sometimes excessive secretion of earwax can result in a build-up that can get pushed towards the eardrum while cleaning with a cotton swab. This is known as cerumen impaction

In such conditions, you experience symptoms such as-

  • pain inside the ear
  • ringing inside the ear
  • partial hearing loss
  • foul smell from the ear
  • dizziness
  • cough 

How To Protect The Ears From Damage

Here are some tips you should follow to protect the ears from damage to ensure good hearing.

Know the dos's and don'ts of ear cleaning

  • Do not put any sharp or small objects inside the ear.
  • Make sure you do not expose yourself to loud noises. Wear protective gear or earplugs.
  • While using headphones, take periodic breaks.
  • To prevent swimmer’s ear, dry your ears as soon as take a bath or swim.
  • If you notice sudden pain, hearing loss or ear injury, visit the doctors without further delay.

Final words

These simple tips can keep your ears clean and healthy. Make sure that you don’t overclean them. It is better to let the ear clean themselves naturally to keep everything in check and promote proper hearing. If you are worried that there is some problem other than excessive earwax, get in touch with our E.N.T doctor today.

Also Read: Ear infection map – inner, middle and outer!

Pristyn Care Provides Best ENT Specialists in:


Is wet or dry earwax better?

Ear wax which is wet traps dust particles, small insects entering the ear canal. This also prevents the ear canal from drying.

How often you should clean the ears?

Every day after showering, you should gently clean the ears with the wet towel to prevent excessive earwax build-up. You should see a professional every six months for ear cleaning.

What should be the color of earwax?

Light brown, orange or yellow earwax is considered to be normal.

What is the safest way to clean the ears?

The safest way to clean the ears is without inserting any sharp object inside the ear. If not done with caution, you might hear the eardrum.