3 safer ways to remove ear wax than using cotton swabs or Q-tips — according to doctors

By Alexandra Frost

Ear wax is the natural safeguard for your ear canal, acting as protection against sand, bugs, and dirt getting in and damaging your canal or eardrum. But if ear wax builds up too much, it can impair your hearing — everything sounds muffled, and it can give you that feeling like you are underwater. Instead of reaching for a cotton swab or Q-tip, which experts say aren't safe because they can puncture your eardrum and do other damage, try one of these products instead.

According to Omid Mehdizadeh, MD, otolaryngologist (ENT) and laryngologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, irrigation systems are "perfectly fine as long as there's not too much pressure and as long as it's comfortable." He says to avoid using cold water in the ear, which can cause vertigo or dizziness. Irrigation systems are one of the tools ENTs would use in the office if a patient came in with excessive ear wax, and is a home remedy you can try without doing harm.

In addition, if people have an uncomfortable amount of ear wax clogging the ear, it can help to liquefy the wax with drops, which Dr. Mehdizadeh says are usually composed of peroxide, which fizzes in the ear. "It's okay for one to two weeks max, but not on a regular basis because it can cause irritation."

 Elephant Ear Washer Bottle System by Doctor Easy
This system comes with three disposable tips.
Amazon

What we like: No ball syringe, simple mechanism, gentle

This irrigation system is ideal because it offers a simplistic mechanism involving a spray bottle with three disposable tips. It doesn't have a lot of extra bells, whistles, and complicated parts that make ear wax removal intimidating. Some systems have the ball syringe to suck out the remaining fluid and wax, but this one doesn't, which means it can be considered safer than other products that are supposed to be inserted into the ear. In fact, ball syringe options fall in the category of things Dr. Mehdizadeh thinks may be dangerous to insert in your ear.

The price is reasonable, and you can buy replacement tips if you plan on using it more than three times. One downside of this design is that it doesn't come with instructions, but there are instructional videos on the purchase site that can help.

$31.95 from Amazon

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