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Dos and Don’ts of Ear Cleaning

Woman Touching Ear

We wash our bodies every day; we carefully use facial scrubs; and we use a nailbrush when we want to get dirt from under our fingernails. Yet despite this focus on cleanliness for the rest of the body, we have a tendency not to clean our ears with the same regularity.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, there are ways and means of cleaning your ears. Do it right and your ears will be in good shape; but if you clean your ears incorrectly, you could find yourself in an awful lot of pain.

Let’s try and clarify the “dos” and “don’ts” of ear cleaning once and for all.

Do keep it simple

If you browse through any drugstore, you will doubtless find a number of different lotions and potions that claim to help clean your ears. If you then turn your attention online, you’ll find even more “life hacks” that will supposedly help you keep your ears clean and healthy.

All of the above – the suggestions, the special oils, the lotions that are meant to prevent infection – are, at best, an expensive waste of time. The best way to clean your ears is to keep it very simple indeed.

For the most part, your ears will clean themselves. You can wash the outer cochlea when you wash the rest of your face, but your inner ear should be left well alone.

Do see an audiologist if earwax impaction is a problem for you

One of the major reasons people try to clean their own ears is issues arising from ear wax impaction. Impactions are the most common cause of temporary hearing loss, which can be incredibly irritating. As a result, people have a tendency to try and remove an impaction themselves.

It’s best to visit your audiologist to have earwax impactions removed. This ensures it is completed safely and your audiologist can provide some guidance on how to handle frequent buildups.

Don’t use cotton swabs

Firstly, you shouldn’t insert anything into your ear canal under any circumstances. Secondly, cotton swabs generally push impactions further into the ear, they can dry out and irritate your ear canals and they can even perforate your eardrum if inserted too far.

If you notice a bad enough impaction visit your audiologist to have it professionally removed.

Don’t fall for trends

Stay firmly away from “new age” or “wellness” trends such as ear candling. If you’ve never heard of ear candling, here’s a quick primer: it’s a practice where a candle is used to draw earwax from the ear canal. Proponents claim this can clear impactions (it can’t) and that the practice is safe (it isn’t).

Treatments such as ear candling should always be avoided; ask any audiologist. Your ears are precious; don’t risk harm to them for a “benefit” that might not even materialize.

If you can keep these dos and don’ts in mind when considering ear cleaning, then all should be well.