Most people believe that waxing ears is part of personal hygiene and that the ears should be clean at all times. However, as much as wax in the ears might make you feel dirty, it is actually important to the outer ear canal. It offers protection and lubrication to the canal, helping it to stay supple and this way you do not feel dry or itchy. Most people end up doing more damage than good when cleaning their ears.
How to Clean Your Ears
Precaution: If are experiencing any form of pain in your ears do not remove earwax. This is more so if you have discharge that is not earwax, if have ever had ear surgery, if you think that you might have hurt your eardrum or you have tubes in your ears. If you have had an ear problem in the past or a raptured eardrum, avoid the hydrogen peroxide procedure.
Method 1: Soften with Liquids and Flush Out
- Prepare the solution
You can either buy a carbamide peroxide solutionat a drug store or make your own cleaning solution. For this you will need 1-2 teaspoons of 3-4% hydrogen peroxide solution, one or two teaspoons of mineral oil and one or two teaspoons of glycerin.
- Prepare an applicator
Use an applicator to pour the mixture in your ear. Make sure it is more than half way full. If you do not have an applicator, you can use a syringe or simply pour the mixture from the bowl directly to your ear.
- Tilt to the side and pour in solution
Tilt your head such that the ear you are cleaning is facing upwards. This will make the cleaning process more efficient. Pour the solution into the ear holding the bowl or the applicator a few centimeters away from the canal. It is better if you have someone who can help you out.
- Wait and then empty
Let the solution sit in for 5-10 minutes. If you are using hydrogen peroxide, let the solution sit until the fizzing sound stops. Once the time is done, hold an empty bowl or cotton ball on the outside of your ear and turn your head slowly empting the solution.
- Flush out the wax
Once the wax is soft, use a rubber bulb syringe to flush out the wax. Squirt warm water, 37 degrees Celsius, into the ear canal. If you have stubborn wax, you can use an enema bottle instead.
- Repeat if necessary
If you have excessive wax build up, you might need to repeat the procedure twice a day for a maximum of 5 days. Overdoing it could lead to damage of the eardrum and the canal walls.
- Dry with a towel
Once you have drained the ear, dry it with a towel. Place the towel on the outside of the ear and pat your ear gently to get rid of excess fluid. Repeat this with the other ear.
Another way of going about this procedure is by:
- Using warm mineral oil or a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide. Warm to body temperature and pour 2 drops for a maximum of 5 days twice a day.
- Once the wax is soft, use a warm shower to get rid of it. Direct the water to your ear then tilt it to let it drain out. Dry with a hair drier on low, holding it a few centimeters from the ear.
- If this does not work, you can get a non-prescription wax softener, and then use an ear syringe to flash it in. Do this once a day at night for a maximum of 2 weeks.
Here are some tips on how to clean your ears:
- It is best to clean your ears after showering. This is because the cerumen is normally softer then.
- If the hydrogen peroxide is drying up your ear canals, pour a few drops of either mineral oil or baby oil.
- To soften the wax and make it easy to remove, pour a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, commercial ear drops or water into the ear canal.
- Place a few drops of a mixture of one measure white vinegar, one measure rubbing alcohol, one measure room temperature tap water in the ear, and this will do the magic. (If the water is too hot or too cold, you might get dizzy)
Method 2: Use Ear Pick (for Dry Ears)
If you happen to be Asian, there are chances that you have dry-type earwax. You might think pouring liquids to your ear will help, but it will do the exact opposite. To remove wax from your ears, you should use an ear pick. You can buy this from an Asian supermarket or a pharmacy. An ear pick is basically a bamboo stick that has a small scoop at the tip. When using the ear pick, make sure that you do not push it too deep into your canal. Since this type of wax is formed in very small quantities, it is a good idea to remove it the manually. If you have someone who can help you do it, it’s even better.
It is not a must that you know how to clean your ears. You can always go to any ear nose and throat specialist and they will clean up the wax using professional techniques. You should also know that the ear not only cleans itself, but it also does the clearing on its own thanks to normal body movements. Wax is always being moved from the inner ear to the outer ear by talking, chewing and even moving the jaws.
How Not to Clean Your Ears
Ear wax is normally formed in the deep parts of your ear. When the doctor notices buildup on your ear drum, it means you have been using foreign objects to clean your ears. This build up could eventually lead to hearing loss. So to avoid this, DO NOT:
- Clean your ears with long pointy objects like twisted napkin corners and bobby pins.
- Use cotton swabs. They will just push the wax deeper into the canal causing blockage.
- Use ear candles. Ear candles can cause serious injuries as warned by the FDA in 2010.
If you have excessive production of wax or feel stuffy in your ears, consult your doctor.
How Often Should I Clean My Ears?
Since wax is an important part of your ears, it should not be cleaned out too often as you will get dry itchy ears. On the other hand, if you let wax accumulate in the ear, it might cause blockage. However, cleaning of the ears cannot be standardized as different people produce different amounts of wax. For some, it is very little and others it is too much and has to be constantly cleaned. To be on the safe side, use a face towel to wipe off excess wax from the outer ear every morning when you take a shower. But this does not mean you twist the corner and stuff it in. Just wipe the opening of the ear and you will be good to go.