How to Get Rid of Flaky Earwax

Many people think earwax is unsanitary, but surprisingly, your ears would be even dirtier without it. Earwax collects dirt, oils and dead skin cells as they make their way through your ear canal. At the end of the canal, the wax turns dry and flaky, then falls out of your ear by itself. If you have too much wax, though, you may want to remove it before it builds up. Contrary to popular belief, a cotton-tipped swab doesn't help. In fact, it may push wax further back into the ear canal. Remove excess earwax safely to avoid harming your delicate ears.

Cotton swabs can actually make earwax worse. (Image: naruedom/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Soak a cotton ball with an over-the-counter ear drop solution. Or use baby oil, hydrogen peroxide, saline solution or mineral oil. Use water-based products to break up earwax and oil-based ones to soften the wax so it slides out easily.

Step 2

Tilt your head to one side so the opening of your ear faces up, then hold the cotton ball over your ear canal. Do not push the cotton ball into the canal. Hold your head in this position for about a minute. This allows the liquid to drip into your ear canal and loosen or break apart the wax.

Step 3

Tilt your head to the other side to allow the wax to drain out. Use a cloth or tissue to collect the liquid and wax as it comes out.

Step 4

If your ears still feel clogged, fill a bulb syringe with water and squirt some water into the ear canal to help remove any remaining wax.

Step 5

Repeat this process for the other ear, if necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton balls

  • Ear drops

  • Baby oil, hydrogen peroxide, saline solution and mineral oil

  • Cloth or tissues

  • Bulb syringe

Tip

If you have a chronic problem with earwax, consult with an ear, nose and throat doctor to have it removed safely. Visit a doctor if your ears feel clogged or if you think your hearing is worsening because of wax buildup.

Warning

If you have an ear perforation, do not put any type of wax softeners in your ears. A doctor can tell you whether you have a perforation. Signs include tenderness, pain and a rash.

Wearing ear plugs, ear-bud headphones or hearing aids for a long period of time may worsen wax compaction.

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