How Do You Clean Out Your Ears?

Last Editorial Review: 10/4/2017

Ask the experts

How do you clean earwax out of your ears?

Doctor's response

Earwax, also called cerumen, helps keep the ears healthy by lubricating the ear canals, cleaning out the ears, and trapping dirt and germs.

Ears are actually self-cleaning and doctors do not advise sticking anything inside the ear, including a cotton swab, because it could push wax further into the ear canal, or even rupture the eardrum. Keep ears clean by wiping the exterior with a soft cloth. If you experience problems with earwax buildup that affect your hearing, consult your doctor.

Doctors also do not recommend ear "candling," which involves lighting a long, hollow candle (typically made from cloth soaked in beeswax) on one end and placing the other end in the ear canal. Not only is there no scientific evidence this helps any condition, it is dangerous and can lead to burns, blockages in the ear canal, or perforation of the tympanic membrane in the ear.

To learn more about ear health, read our full medical article about earwax.

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