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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jeff Baller

Top Tips for Ear Wax Removal

by Dr. Jeff Baller, Audiologist, CCC-A

You might not think about earwax very often, but those who have problems with earwax buildup can find it very concerning. Without knowing exactly how to remedy the situation, some people feel compelled to try strange approaches. Some of these earwax removal tactics can actually do much more harm than benefit, so it’s important to know how to approach earwax in a way that can achieve a healthy balance without upsetting the natural function that earwax provides. Let’s walk through some of the top tips for earwax removal, keeping in mind that it is essential to the health and wellbeing of your ears. Although unsightly, earwax protects the ear from foreign objects and debris that can be harmful. Preserving the presence of earwax without allowing it come into view is the key, so these general cleaning practices can be very helpful.

Maintaining Earwax Equilibrium

A healthy ear has enough earwax to moisturize the ear canal and to collect the dust, debris, and foreign objects that threaten to harm the sensitive features of the inner ear. If a gnat or tiny bug enters the ear canal, earwax can keep it from doing any harm, so total earwax removal is not the goal. Instead, think about achieving earwax equilibrium. Keeping enough earwax to perform this function while preventing buildup requires a gentle but regular cleaning routine.

Most people benefit most from wiping the curves of the outer ear with a clean, damp cloth on a daily basis. This general topical cleaning removes the earwax that emerges from the inner ear into sight, while allowing it to remain where it belongs. Crucially, a person should not insert any object, including a cotton swab, into the ear canal. A good rule of thumb is to make sure no object bigger than your elbow approaches the entrance to the ear canal.

Earwax Removal

It’s possible that you have a more serious issue with earwax buildup, and there are some at-home cures you can use that don’t involve inserting objects into the ear canal. A few drops of a solution, such as glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, saline, or mineral oil, can be dropped into the ear as an earwax softener. Tilt your head to one side and add just a few drops of this solution, and then wait for about 30 minutes.

After that time has passed, you can flush the ear canal with warm water and then tilt that ear toward the ground to drain the excess. You might not remove a mass of earwax with one treatment, so you repeat treatments can be helpful. If you find that this simple method doesn’t make a dent in your earwax problem, then you will need to seek professional help. Your general practitioner can offer solutions, or you might be referred to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist to remove a larger mass from the ear canal.

Do’s and Don’ts with Earwax

Along with the general principle that you should not insert anything larger than your elbow into the ear canal, another at-home remedy should be avoided: ear candles. These devices use a cone of wax-covered paper and an open flame to warm and suction earwax from the ear canal. However, this process can be quite dangerous, and it can disturb the equilibrium of earwax that should remain in the ear. Not only is the flame dangerous, but the suctioning effect can pull too much earwax out of the ears, leaving it dry and exposed to debris.

Rather than performing these actions, why not allow your earwax to reach its own steady balance of earwax by wiping out the exterior on a daily basis? If you follow these general tips for earwax removal, you should be able to continue to reap the benefits of their protection while keeping the ugly substance out of sight.

Though unsightly, earwax is a naturally protective function of the ear, so it is important to remember not to remove too much. Tempting though it may be, inserting a cotton swab into the ear canal can actually force earwax deeper into the canal, making issues worse. Resisting the temptation promotes the health and wellbeing of your ears.


Should you be in need of a professional ear canal cleaning, please call us at 253-905-4330, email at Eardoc@RainierMobileAudiology.com or visit www.RainierMobileAudiology.com to schedule. Our Audiologist who specializes in cerumen removal will expertly do this for you.

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