Cleaning Your Ears: When, Why, and How to Do It

When to clean your ears

Your ears are self-cleaning and usually don’t need to be cleaned. Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a natural substance that helps protect your ears from dirt, dust, and other irritants. It also helps keep the skin in your ear canal moist and healthy.

However, there are a few times when you may need to clean your ears:

  • If you have too much earwax buildup. This can cause symptoms such as hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and earache.
  • If you have a perforated eardrum. A perforated eardrum is a hole in the eardrum. If you have a perforated eardrum, you should not clean your ears with water or any other liquid, as this could damage your inner ear.
  • If you have a swimmer’s ear infection. Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer ear canal. If you have swimmer’s ear, your doctor may recommend cleaning your ears with water.

Why to clean your ears

Earwax buildup can block the ear canal and cause hearing loss. It can also cause ringing in the ears, earache, and dizziness. If you have too much earwax buildup, you may need to clean your ears to remove the excess wax.

How to clean your ears

The safest way to clean your ears is to use a washcloth to wipe the outer part of your ears. You can also use a few drops of earwax softener to soften the wax and make it easier to remove.

If you have excessive earwax buildup, your doctor may recommend removing the wax using a syringe or other medical device.

What to avoid when cleaning your ears

Do not use cotton swabs or other objects to clean the inside of your ear canal. This can push the earwax deeper into the ear canal and damage the eardrum.

Do not use water to clean your ears unless you have a perforated eardrum or swimmer’s ear.

If you have any questions or concerns about cleaning your ears, talk to your doctor.