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Listen Up! How To Clean Your Ears

By Ashley Hume
Posted On May 14, 2016
Listen Up! How To Clean Your Ears

Like many people, I always assumed that regularly ridding my ears of earwax buildup was just a normal part of maintaining good hygiene. I never questioned the tried-and-true method of using a Q-tip to swab the insides of my ear canal at least a couple times a week. I usually felt a sense of satisfaction afterward, confident that I was taking care of my ears while removing unsightly and unnecessary gunk.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that earwax is actually vital to the overall health of my ears. The ear is a self-cleaning organ that pushes earwax out of the ear canal on its own. Furthermore, earwax is designed to protect your inner ear from bacteria and other irritants including dust, pollen, insects (ew!) and exposure to water.

However, as usual, too much of a good thing can be bad in the long run. An excessive amount of earwax will promote the spread of bacteria into your inner ear, leading to ear infections and even hearing loss. Ears do need to be cleaned but using a Q-tip is actually the worst way to accomplish the task. Q-tips actually push earwax further into the ear. Additionally, you risk inserting the Q-tip too far and perforating your eardrum.

So put that Q-tip down and try one of the following medically approved methods for earwax removal.

  • Mix together equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and tilt your head sideways. Squeeze a few drops into your ear and let the solution run through. Bend your head in the opposite direction and the solution will run out of your ear. Clean with a fresh cotton ball.
  • Repeat the above steps with a solution made up of one teaspoon of salt and a half-cup of warm water.
  • Fill a dropper with baby or mineral oil. Tilt your head sideways and squeeze two to five drops into your ear canal (don’t insert the dropper into your ear). Gently stop up your ear with a cotton ball and wait for a few minutes. Remove and then tilt your head to the other side to allow the oil to drain.