7 Tips to Safely Keep Your Ears Clean
- Jerald S. Altman, MD

Many people are used to cleaning their ears with cotton swabs. Their goal is to, well, keep them clean.

This well-intentioned act, however, can actually risk our hearing ability.

The ear, particularly the inside parts, is extremely delicate. So, special care has to be taken when cleaning the ears.

The following tips will help you keep your ears clean in a safe way!

1. Stop using Cotton Swabs

Cotton swabs should not be used in the ear canal. People use them like a rammer is used, to push the ball into a cannon before it firing.

Ear wax (also known as cerumen) is produced by the ears and is a self-cleaning agent. It is our body's way to keep the ears clean. The body normally keeps moving old wax out of the ear, where it dries and falls out, taking any dust from the ear canal.

2. Clean the ears by not cleaning them

Confused? Well, the ear canals are generally self-cleaning. Thus, there is no need to poke things in your ear. If it seems as if your ears are plugged or if your hearing has decreased, get your ears checked by a doctor.

3. Wash external ears only

It's perfectly fine to clean the external areas of the ear using a damp cloth. Just make sure nothing is inserted into the ear canal.

4. Use hydrogen peroxide to get rid of stubborn wax

If you have too much wax that refuses to come out on its own AND if there is no hole in your eardrum, a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear, once a day, is safe to use as well. If there is no improvement in 3 days, see your doctor.

5. Never use bobby pins to clean ears

Bobby pins scratch your ear canal, which can lead to an ear infection. Also, it can rupture your eardrum, seriously affecting your hearing ability. Period.

6. Do not use ear candles

The FDA issued a warning back in 2010 stating that ear candles can lead to serious injuries and a possible loss of hearing. Never use ear candles!

7. Visit a doctor

If you feel things are not normal or if you feel as if your ears are producing too much wax, visit a doctor and let them recommend the appropriate treatment or cleaning procedure. Do not attempt to clean them yourself.

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