We feel tempted to clean our ears because of a substance called cerumen, commonly called earwax. It’s normal for your body to produce earwax, and it actually helps protect and lubricate your ears.

If you didn’t have earwax, your ears would probably be itchy and dry. Earwax even has antibacterial properties, which means your ears are self-cleaning.

Earwax is like a filter for your ears, keeping out harmful things like dirt and dust, and trapping them so they don’t go deep inside. If it does build up inside your ear canal, especially if it clogs the canal, then you should remove at least some of the wax to prevent your hearing from being impaired.

Learn about ear wax removal methods

There are numerous methods of ear wax removal, but many of them are home remedies that are unreliable or sometimes even dangerous. The most well-known of these are cotton swabs, which also happen to be the largest cause of eardrum injury. Below you can read about a number of wax removal methods and our consensus on their effectiveness.

Why should you clean your ears?

Ears are usually self-cleaning and generally don’t need any help as the earwax works its way through the ear canal. When you chew and move your jaw, you help move old earwax out of the ear canal to the ear opening. That’s where it usually dries up and falls out. If you are experiencing a build-up of earwax in the ear canal you can start by softening the wax with a wax softener and this should help the wax work itself out of your ear. 

Why would you want to remove ear wax safely at home rather than having a doctor do it?

In addition to saving time and money, it’s simply more convenient to clean your ears at home. You really should only go to the doctor if your ears are severely impacted or you have an ear infection, either viral or bacterial to diagnose.

What are some ear wax removal methods?

Some ear wax removal methods include:


Ear drops including over-the-counter products like Debrox only soften ear wax, they don’t remove it.

Bulb Syringe

A bulb syringe provides suction and usually is good for removing water or ear drop solution but not for removing hardened ear wax.

Mineral or Olive Oil

Olive oil has some antibacterial properties and is a healthy oil to use in your diet, and although there have been a few studies none seem to support the belief that olive oil dissolves ear wax. Olive oil may add a bit of lubrication to the ear and make it easier for a doctor to remove the wax, but it does not appear to dissolve the wax.

Ear Cleaning Candle 

Ear cleaning candles have not proven to be effective at removing ear wax and sometimes they have even resulted in burns to the person using them so we cannot endorse this ear cleaning method.

Cotton Swabs

Cotton ear swabs are good for cleaning your OUTER ear - the part with all the folds including your ear lobes. Cotton swabs should not be used for cleaning inside the ear canal. Cotton swabs are a leading cause of ear injury due to eardrum trauma. When you use a cotton swab you can’t see how close you are to your eardrum so it’s very easy to bump into your eardrum - it’s also quite painful! Additionally, using cotton swabs to clean out earwax can be difficult, sometimes it just results in the earwax being pushed further down your ear canal.

Q Grips 

If you are seeking a safer alternative to cotton swabs, then Q Grips for ear wax might be the answer, but do Q Grips really work, or are they actually effective? In our experience, Q Grips can remove some ear wax, but they won’t remove it all and they don’t give you a good view of the inside of your ear canal so you can’t see how much ear wax is in there or where it is at.

Ear Cleaning Tool Kit

Don’t put tools in your ears unless you also have a clear view of your delicate eardrum. Ear cleaning tools are safe for trained medical professionals to use, but they should not be used on your own ears.

Use a digital otoscope

A modern approach to earwax removal is to use a digital otoscope with a wax removal attachment. ScopeAround makes a number of devices that are safe to use because you can see inside your ear the entire time you are using the device. Digital otoscopes have integrated LED lights to illuminate the ear canal and help the tip of the otoscope avoid your eardrum. If you want to know how to remove ear wax safely at home, the digital otoscope is the best method. The soft silicone-tipped spoon attaches to the end of the otoscope and that combined with the camera gives you the perfect tool to scrape out pieces of earwax. 

Shop ScopeAround Otoscopes Today!

ScopeAround brought the first digital otoscope with camera for consumers to the market over five years ago so we have more experience and customer feedback to make the best digital otoscopes available. We make a complete range of digital otoscope products including free-standing models to USB-connected, Lightning cable-connected, and WiFi-connected devices with an otoscope camera app for your mobile device. Shop ScopeAround otoscope cameras now!


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