What Are the Safest Methods of Ear Wax Cleaning?

Almond oil can be used for ear wax cleaning.
Baby oil, which can be used to soften ear wax so it can be removed.
There are several methods to safely remove ear wax.
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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2014
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The safest methods of ear wax cleaning typically do not involve placing solid objects, like cotton swabs or fingers, into the ear because this often impacts the wax. Using a couple drops of warmed oils, like olive oil or baby oil, can soften the wax enough for a gentle stream of water to flush out. Some products are specifically designed for ear wax cleaning and work similarly to oils, though they may come with a special tool to use water to flush out the wax. Health professionals sometimes use similar methods, but they occasionally scoop the wax out with metal tools before flushing. Lastly, some methods of ear wax cleaning, such as using cotton swabs or candles, are best avoided to prevent impacting the wax or damaging the ear.

Mineral oil, almond oil, and other organic oils can be used for ear wax cleaning. The oil is first warmed, and then a few drops are placed into one ear. After five minutes or so, the ear should be flushed with water with the ear tilted toward the floor so that the wax drops out. The water, whether from the shower or a syringe, should not have too much pressure to it, or it can cause pain. This process may need to be repeated up to three times per day over the course of three to five days; patience is key when dealing with a large amount of ear wax.


Some people will have more success with ear wax cleaning when using a commercial product. These products may have organic oils, hydrogen peroxide, or sodium bicarbonate in them and come with a tool to flush water into the ear. Like homemade ear wax cleaning solutions, this method is normally used multiple times to achieve maximum results. If the ear wax buildup does not come out during the first few tries, it might simply take more oil and time to soften the wax for extraction.

Health professionals can use tools that are not recommended for use by the layperson. Manually scooping earwax from the ear can be quite painful. In some cases, however, seeing a doctor is the safest way to remove earwax. Doctors are usually more qualified to handle deeply impacted wax or wax that is severely affecting a person’s hearing.

Certain methods are often touted as safe but are best avoided. For example, ear candling and using cotton swabs are generally ineffective and can harm more than help. Swabs can go too far into the ear and puncture the eardrum. Ear candling is an alternative medicine that is scientifically proved not to work, on top of it being dangerous to light a candle in someone’s ear.


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