How to clean your ears

Many people consider ear cleaning an important part of their bathing routine. But what you may not realize is that every time you poke your ears with a cotton bud or swab, you could be damaging your ears. If you are concerned about getting rid of unsightly ear wax, you actually risk pushing it further inside your ear. This can cause the wax to build up or become impacted. Both can cause your ear to become blocked which can be very uncomfortable and affect your hearing. You could also damage your eardrum and the delicate skin in your ear canal.

Knowing how to properly clean ears ensures that you can avoid damaging them and your hearing health.

Cleaning your ears naturally

If you want to know how to clean ears at home naturally, just do nothing and let your body take care of it. Ear cleaning is a job that your ears do on their own naturally. Your ears produce cerumen or ear wax which acts as a self-cleaning agent. The orangey-brown substance contains lubricating, antibacterial and protective properties to keep your ears from becoming dry and works as a filter to stop dirt and dust getting into the ears.

Once the ear wax has done its work, the movements your jaw makes when you talk and chew will help the wax to work its way out of your ears. Aside from your regular bathing routine, you may not need to ever clean your ears yourself.

Cleaning ears at home

You may be thinking about how to clean your ears because they feel blocked. However, ear wax is just one of the causes for clogged ears. It could also be as a result of sinus or middle ear infection, water has got in the ear, allergies or a change in altitude. Cleaning your ears may not make any difference or could potentially make it worse.

The safest and most reliable way to clean your ears is to visit your doctor or hearing care professional. But if you want to know how to properly clean your ears yourself, there are several remedies for clogged ears that you can try at home. Just remember, cleaning your ears yourself could damage them. If you have any concerns about ear cleaning, contact your doctor or hearing care professional first.

Damp cloth

The easiest and safest way to clean ears yourself is by simply using a damp cloth. Wet a cloth or paper towel with lukewarm water and then gently wipe the outer parts of your ear. Only use the cloth to clean this area of your ear, don’t insert it into the inner part of your ear, even if you see wax there.

Ear drops

You can buy ear drops to use at home or make a solution yourself that works just the same to soften ear wax and make it much easier to remove.

You may need to use the ear drops several times before the excess ear wax drops out. You must take care when using ear drops as it can just loosen the outer layer of the wax and cause it to get lodged further into the ear canal or against the eardrum. If your symptoms don’t improve, seek further advice from your doctor or hearing care professional.


You can buy irrigation kits to use at home and these use water and saline to help remove ear wax and clean your ears. It’s often a good idea to use ear drops first to loosen the ear wax. You can then warm up the water and saline solution to around body temperature and gently squirt the solution into your ear canal using a syringe.

You shouldn’t use irrigation to clean your ears if you have:

  • Holes in your eardrum
  • A tube in your eardrum
  • Diabetes
  • Skin conditions in or near your ear such as eczema

How often should I clean my ears?

In most cases, you shouldn’t need to regularly clean your ears as they will do the work for you. It’s much better just to leave your ears alone as much as possible. Ear wax is essential for ensuring your ears stay healthy and protecting the delicate skin in your ear. You should only think about removing it if you have a build-up of ear wax that is causing you problems. For instance:

  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Dizziness
  • Itchy ears
  • Earache or ear pain
  • Ears feel full

Your ears and the body's auditory system is one of the most amazing but delicate parts of your body. This makes it so important that you know how to clean your ears safely. For most people, the hard work is done for you thanks to your body’s unique self-cleaning abilities and a gentle wipe with a damp cloth are all they need.

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