The Best Way to Clean Out Your Ears

A once-a-month ear cleaning is a good hygiene practice to prevent hardened wax from blocking the eardrum. To protect the ear canal from permanent damage, never stick anything -- a pencil tip, cotton swab, paper clip or bobby pin -- into the ear canal. It is important, however, to use a safe and gentle ear-cleaning method to remove the wax build-up in the outer ear canal without creating an environment for infection.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Apply 3 to 4 drops of baby oil into your ear before bedtime using a syringe. You can buy a syringe--without the needle--at most drug stores. To apply the drops, tilt your head with the ear you're cleansing facing up, towards the ceiling. Hold your earlobe out and up to help the oil easily enter the ear canal.

Read more about how to clean ears with mineral oil.

Place an oil-soaked cotton ball into the outer ear opening to keep the oil from leaking out onto clothing. If the cotton ball is too large for your ear, cut it in half to make it a comfortable size.

Allow the baby oil to remain in your ear for 15 minutes. You may sleep with the oil in the ear, but only if you have a wax blockage. A blockage will take longer to soften. For standard ear cleansing, 15 minutes is a more than adequate.

Remove the cotton balls from your ears and discard. Fill the syringe with warm water and, holding the earlobe up and out as before, apply half of the syringe's contents to your ear. This will flush out any loose wax or debris.

Remove the water from your ear by placing a towel against the ear and turning your head, affected ear down, to allow the water and loosened wax to work its way out of your ear canal. Repeat all steps with the opposite ear.

Read more about how to suction the ear canal.

Warnings

Never stick hair pins or cotton swabs into the ear as this increases risk of infection and pushes wax deeper into the ear, forming a complete blockage.

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