How to Safely Remove Ear Wax: Common Myths and Facts

Get rid of ear wax buildup and hear the difference

Concerns about how to clean ears safely are common among patients that our Ear Nurses treat. However, due to the abundance of (mis)information, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. The following are some common myths about ear cleaning that you should avoid.

Myth 1: Ears should be washed with soap and water.

Fact: Ears should not be washed at all! In fact, they should be kept dry. Washing ears with soap and water can wash away the oils produced by the skin in the ear, which is necessary to keep our ears lubricated.

Myth 2: Ears can be washed out using the shower rose.

Fact: Aiming water down the ear canal from the shower can result in pain, injury, and earwax impaction deeper into the canal.

Myth 3: Cotton buds should be used to clean ears and remove earwax.

Fact: Cotton buds can damage your ears and serve only to push earwax deeper into the canal, causing a temporary hearing loss, tinnitus, injury, dizziness, infection, or even eardrum perforation.

Myth 4: Ear wax is dirty and should be removed.

Fact: Ear wax plays an important role in keeping our ears healthy and comfortable. It forms a barrier that protects the ear and the delicate inner parts from air-borne particles, foreign objects, and insects. Earwax is also slightly acidic and therefore has a natural ability to fight bacteria that may otherwise lead to infection.

What You Can Do Instead

  • Drop some olive oil into your ears occasionally to keep the earwax soft and moving towards the outside of the ear.  
  • Use a face cloth to wipe around the entrance to the ears after your shower or swim.
  • If you experience any pain, hearing loss, blocked sensations, itchiness, or ringing in the ears, visit a professional for a thorough assessment and cleaning.

In Conclusion

The best way to clean your ears is to leave them alone.

Avoid using cotton buds, water, or soap, and embrace the benefits of earwax.

If you have concerns about your ears, seek the expert Ear Nurses for your ear wax removal.

Cindy Morris, Registered Nurse Education Coordinator