How to Clean Inner Ear Wax

Cotton buds in woman's hand
Woman holding a cotton swab (Image: Michał Ludwiczak/iStock/Getty Images)

The presence of wax in your ears is a natural occurrence. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, specialized cells in the ear canal secrete a wax-like substance called cerumen designed to keep the inner ear protected from moisture and infection. Normally, the cerumen moves towards the opening of the canal and falls out on its own. Some conditions such as over-production of ear wax, chronic ear infections or the use of hearing aids cause wax to build up in the ear canal. This results in discomfort, hearing loss and possible damage.

Step 1

Prepare your supplies. Within easy reach, place your cotton swabs, cotton balls, hydrogen peroxide and dropper. If you have a trusted assistant, this process would be easier.

Step 2

Lie on a horizontal surface with one ear facing upward. Use the dropper to place three to five drops of hydrogen peroxide in the upward facing ear. You will hear bubbling, which means the peroxide is working. Allow the peroxide to work for at least 15 minutes or until the bubbling stops.

Step 3

While still lying down, place a cotton ball in the ear canal of the ear in which you just placed peroxide. Now, lie with the other ear facing upward. The cotton ball will catch the material coming out as you change positions.

Step 4

Place three to five drops of hydrogen peroxide in the opposite ear. Again, wait at least 15 minutes, or until the bubbling stops. Place a different cotton ball in the opposite ear to catch the material draining out when you sit upright.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton swabs

  • Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Cotton Balls

  • Dropper

  • Mineral Oil (optional)

  • Warm water (optional)

Tip

Hard or difficult clumps of ear wax can be softened with a drop of mineral oil placed in your ear 10 minutes prior to the peroxide.

Warm water will also help soften problem ear wax. Use the dropper to place two to five drops in the upward-facing ear prior to using peroxide.

Use the cotton swabs to remove any remaining material.

Warning

Never use an instrument of any kind to dig or force ear wax from the inner canal. You can rupture the ear drum or damage the thin canal wall.

According to the University of Iowa, the inner ear can be damaged so easily that hardened earwax should only be removed by a health care provider.

Consult a health care provider immediately if you see blood or experience pain, discomfort or hearing loss.

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