Stop Putting Cotton Swabs In Your Ear! How to Remove Earwax Safely

Baby­bel cheese, can­dles, and crayons may seem like a strange group of items to have some­thing in com­mon. But they have one com­mon ingre­di­ent that is also found in your ears: wax. 

Ear­wax — also med­ical­ly known as ceru­men” — is a key part of keep­ing your ears healthy. Ear­wax is pro­duced by your body to catch and stop bac­te­ria, pathogens, and oth­er lit­tle objects from get­ting into your ear. It also stops your ear from irri­ta­tion due to water. 

While ear­wax is nat­u­ral­ly occur­ring and has a big job to do for your ear health, too much of it can be annoy­ing — or even down­right painful.


Ear­wax is nor­mal and even good for your ears, but it’s also impor­tant that you have the right amount of ear­wax. Remov­ing waxy buildup — the safe way — can keep you from expe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms like par­tial hear­ing loss.

Ear­wax Removal Meth­ods to Avoid

There are many ways to remove ear­wax, but not all of them are safe. Sur­pris­ing­ly, one of the most com­mon approach­es to clean­ing out your ears — using a cot­ton swab — is the one that med­ical spe­cial­ists wish you would stop doing. 

Many peo­ple use cot­ton swabs to clean out ear­wax — but the prod­uct is not meant to be insert­ed into your ear canal. Safe uses for cot­ton swabs include apply­ing make­up, apply­ing oint­ment and cream if you have an injury, and even clean­ing your lap­top keyboard. 

None of these rec­om­mend­ed uses include dig­ging around in your ear to remove earwax. 

Because of their size, shape, and gen­er­al avail­abil­i­ty, peo­ple use cot­ton swabs to clean their ears with­out think­ing too much about it. Using a cot­ton swab inside your ear canal can actu­al­ly cause you to push the wax fur­ther into your ear. 

You may also be tempt­ed to sim­ply use your fin­gers to remove ear­wax. How­ev­er, putting any­thing in your ear canal — includ­ing your own fin­gers — can cause dam­age to your ear. 

With­out the use of a cot­ton swab, you may be won­der­ing, What am I sup­posed to do when my ears are too waxy?” Don’t wor­ry, Duly spe­cial­ists can help you remove ear­wax safely. 

Hav­ing too much wax build up in your ears can be annoy­ing — and it can also be painful. Sched­ule a vis­it with a Duly oto­laryn­gol­o­gist (ENT spe­cial­ist) today to remove excess wax.

How ENT Can Remove Ear­wax Safely

At Duly Health and Care, you can receive care for ear­wax removal through an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) spe­cial­ist or your pri­ma­ry care provider. 

They can remove wax from your ears by using:

  • Drops to soft­en the earwax

  • A mag­ni­fy­ing glass to bet­ter see inside your ear

  • Small tools to man­u­al­ly remove the wax

  • Water for a method called irri­ga­tion” to flush out the wax

You can sched­ule an ENT or pri­ma­ry care appoint­ment online at any time to talk to a physi­cian about your ear­wax. They can take a look into your ear canal to see if there is any excess buildup and deter­mine the best treat­ment for you. 

Ear­wax may be a part of life, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Let Duly Health and Care help you achieve the relief you want.

Safer Ways to Remove Ear­wax at Home

In addi­tion to see­ing an Ear, Nose, and Throat provider, there are also some safe ways to remove ear­wax at home that don’t include using a cot­ton swab. 

In fact, many ear­wax issues can be reme­died at home — or at least man­aged in between reg­u­lar vis­its to see your provider. 

You can remove ear­wax on your own by:

  • Clean­ing the out­er canal around your ear with a cloth and warm water

  • Soft­en­ing ear­wax with com­mer­cial ear drops, baby oil, glyc­erin, or min­er­al oil

These meth­ods may work, or you may not feel the relief you’re hop­ing for. Talk to your provider if you’re experiencing:

  • Pain in your ear 

  • Hear­ing loss — even after ear­wax removal 

  • Ear dis­charge

  • Fever

  • Feel­ing waxy buildup despite at-home ear­wax removal efforts

The Bot­tom Line: Don’t Use Cot­ton Swabs in Your Ear

While it might be tempt­ing to just put a cot­ton swab in your ears every time they feel too waxy, ditch­ing this habit can be great for your ear health. 

Using gen­tler meth­ods that don’t include putting some­thing small in your ear canal can pro­tect you from acci­den­tal­ly push­ing the wax deep­er into your ear — or worse, lead­ing to a cut in your ear canal or a punc­ture to your eardrum.

With options offered by ENT, and pri­ma­ry care providers at Duly, you can ditch this dan­ger­ous ear­wax removal method once and for all.


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