skip to Main Content

How Do I Safely Clean My Ears?

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a sticky substance secreted by glands in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. It plays an important role in your body by stopping foreign particles from entering the ears. Earwax actually serves as a natural self-cleaner, so it is typically unnecessary to safely clean your ears yourself. In addition, ear wax: 

  • Protects the ear from dust, and debris
  • Contains antibacterial properties to prevent infections
  • Keeps the ear canal lubricated and therefore prevents the skin from flaking and drying out

Ways to Safely Clean Your Ears

Although ear wax serves an important function in our body, sometimes ear wax can build up in our ear canals or outer ears. Here are some ways to safely clean your ears at home: 

Damp Cloth

Use a washcloth with lukewarm water and soap to clean the outer part of your ear.


You may also use a syringe to irrigate your ears, which can rinse out the wax in your ear. This method is most effective when you use a type of wax softener 15 to 30 minutes before irrigating. You can find an over the counter wax softener that is designed for this purpose, or you can apply a baby oil or mineral oil using an eyedropper.

Regardless of whether you irrigate your ears or gently wash them with a damp towel, it is important to thoroughly dry your ears with a clean, dry cloth after cleaning them.

Ear-Cleaning Habits to Avoid

It is very important to remember to never put anything directly into your ear, such as small items like bobby pins, pens, or Q-tips. These items can push ear wax further into your ear canal and can cause considerable damage to your eardrums. 

You can also protect your ears by:

  • Removing any water after you swim to prevent swimmer’s ear from developing
  • Limit your exposure to loud noises
  • Monitor any hearing changes you may experience, especially if you are taking medications
  • Take breaks from your headphones

Know When to See Your Doctor

If you have a hole in your eardrum, have ever had ear surgery, or are experiencing intense ear pain, you should never attempt to clean your ear yourself. It may be time to visit an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist at the Ear and Sinus Institute if you are experiencing the following symptoms: 

Dr. Marc Dean, a board certified otolaryngologist, specializing in ear and sinus diseases and may be able to help you with any ear blockages or infections that you have. Contact the Ear and Sinus Institute today to learn more. 

Make an Appointment
Call Us to Schedule an Appointment: (817) 332-4060
Back To Top