Best Home Remedies for Earwax Removal and Useful Tips

If you do not clean ear wax daily then it can accumulate overtime causing discomfort and hearing issues. If you are one of these people who have a lot of ear wax, then you must be looking for home remedies for ear wax removal. Before getting into these home remedies, we would like to investigate the underlying reasons behind the formation of earwax and its buildup.

Formation of earwax

Earwax, scientifically known as cerumen, is a result of a biological process. As the name suggests, it has a waxy material that prevents dust and other outside particles from entering the ear canal. Earwax is an essential substance produced by your body and it is considered one of its protective procedures. It also makes sure that a certain amount of moisture is maintained in your ear canal. So, a certain amount of earwax is actually good for your ears. If there is no earwax, the inner parts of your ears become exposed to external harmful particles that can damage your ears and can ultimately affect your hearing.

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Reasons behind earwax buildup

Although earwax naturally tends to fall off without causing buildup in your ears, sometimes earwax gets stuck in your ears. This can happen because of several reasons:

  1. Removal of Earwax using Q-tip and other DIY earwax removal products

This might come as surprise for many but using Q-tip to manually remove earwax is one of the biggest reasons behind earwax buildup. Using a Q-tip for earwax removal at home is considered one of the important steps of daily hygiene. Unfortunately, this is a completely wrong practice.

According to otologists, when you use a Q-tip to clean earwax instead of cleaning it, you push it further to your ear canal.

Daily use of Q-tip leads to earwax buildup. You are basically clogging your ear canal as opposed to cleaning it.

You might see the dirty earwax on your Q-tip and become happy that your ears are clean now, but sadly they are filled up with more earwax in reality. Earwax can accumulate in your ears because of other DIY earwax removal products that you might use. For instance, the use of bobby pins instead of Q-tips for earwax is quite common. This also causes the same damage to your ear canal.  As an added disadvantage such pointy things, like bobby pins, can even puncture your ear drum.

The use of a rolled up cotton swab as another DIY earwax removal product does the same harm to your ear. The process of ear candling in which a lighted candle is used to remove ear wax produces similar results with additional drawbacks. Using the flames of a burning candle can cause blisters in your ear drum and burn it. There is also a chance that during this process the wax from the candle can melt and fall into your ear. People sometimes try to clean ear wax with water. According to otologists, this is not a good idea, as water can mix up with wax and form an even thicker mixture, which can further clog your ear canal.

  1. Ear Disease or Infection

You might be suffering from some kind of an ear infection or disease that is causing earwax blockage so that earwax builds up instead of falling out. There is also a chance that your ear canals have over production of earwax, which is causing it to accumulate, or the earwax it produces is much harder than it normally should be.

  1. Deficiency of Fatty Acids

If you are Omega-3 fatty acid, magnesium or zinc deficient then you might have excessive earwax. Shifting to a healthier diet enriched with these ingredients can assist you in decreasing earwax buildup.

  1. Excessive use of Hearing Aids or Earphones

If you are someone who has their earphones or hearing aids plugged into their ears for a long period of time then you might as well be facing the issue of earwax buildup. Basically, these items block the opening of the ear, thereby forcing earwax to go back or accumulating at the opening. Now that you know the reasons behind earwax buildup, we shift our attention towards finding out how can we know whether we have earwax accumulation or not.

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How to find out about earwax accumulation?

There are a few symptoms associated with earwax accumulation that can be easily detected. You might not feel anything initially but overtime irritation can start to increase, including itchiness and pain in your ears. You might be prone to hearing issues or hearing weird sounds like that of a whistle. This act of hearing noises is a medical condition known as tinnitus.

You will generally have an uncomfortable feeling of fullness in your ears paired with dizziness at time. In extreme cases, you might suffer from hearing loss. You might also visually see excessive amount of earwax in your ears. For this you need someone to look at your ear. Once you have found out that you have excessive earwax in your ear, you can either visit your ear specialist or you can try some of our home remedies for ear wax blockage.

It is important to thoroughly go through our suggested remedies and apply them with care. Please remember that ears are one of the most delicate organs of your body and thus they must be treated gently.

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Home remedies for ear wax removal

Here are 5 most effective home remedies for ear wax buildup.

  1. Mixture of Salt and Water

Mixture of Salt and Water for ear wax removal at home

Considered to be the most effective home remedy for earwax elimination, the mixture of salt and water can assist you in getting rid of earwax in no time. To make this saline water you just need two ingredients – warm water and salt. You need to take half cup of warm water and add 1 teaspoon of salt in it. Once salt is dissolved in water, take a cotton ball and put it in the mixture.

Once the ball is completely soaked, take it out and squeeze it in your ear. For this step you are supposed to tilt your head a little so that you don’t get water inside your ear. After squeezing the warm water, remain as it is for maximum 5 minutes. Then remove water from your ear by just tilting your head a bit. What this saline water does is that it makes the hard earwax softer and easier to remove. So after draining the water, you can take a cloth piece to remove the wax. As the wax is softer now it can be easily removed. Do not push the cloth too hard inside your ear.

  1. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide for ear wax removal at home

Another one of those highly recommended home remedies for earwax blockage is Hydrogen peroxide – H2O2 . This chemical compound liquefies hard wax. It is commonly used as a disinfectant as well. What you need to do is to mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide with water and put this mixture in a dropper. Using the same technique of tilting your head, deposit a few drops of this solution to your ear. Within ten minutes you will see that your earwax will start to liquefy, turning into a gooey substance which can be easily removed using a soft cloth. Again, be as gentle as possible. The main drawback with Hydrogen peroxide is that you need to use 3% concentrated one. Anything above this can damage your ear.

Also avoid using H2O2 if you have recently undergone an ear surgery or you are diagnosed with a hole in your ear drum. In both these cases H2O2 might aggravate your problem. Hydrogen peroxide is easily available at local drugstore.

  1. Mixture of Alcohol and White Vinegar

Mixture of Alcohol and White Vinegar for ear wax removal at home

An equal-parts mixture of alcohol and white vinegar is one of the tried and tested home remedies for earwax buildup. It is also considered the quickest and easiest way of removing earwax. A few drops of this mixture can assist in dissolving earwax and helping in removing it in no time. White vinegar also prevents the formation of fungi and is anti-bacterial in nature. Thus, it does not only remove earwax but cleanses your ears as well.  You have to repeat the same process keeping your head at a tilted position. You just need 2-3 drops of this solution, nothing more than that. After waiting for a few minutes, you can tilt your head the other way in order for the dissolved earwax to fall out of the ear by itself.

  1. A variety of oils

Oils for earwax removal

The most natural earwax removal technique involves the use of a variety of oils either separately or in form of a combination. Commonly apllied baby oil can be used as an earwax remover. You simply put 2-3 drops of this oil into your ear and place a cotton ball above it so that no oil drips out of your ear. Once the oil settles down and mixes with your earwax, you can remove your ear wax gently with a Q-tip (not pushing too hard).  Olive oil can be used in a similar fashion. Being an anti-septic agent in nature, olive oil also has an advantage of keeping your ears free from infection. You need to heat olive oil a little bit before using it. Almond oil can also help in softening and removing earwax. You don’t have to heat it or anything. You can also use any other mineral oil for natural earwax removal. It works just like a moisturizer in keeping your ears soft and smooth.

  1. Baking Soda

baking soda for earwax removal

An alternative to salty water, baking soda mixture works just like saline water in order to remove earwax. Add a quarter teaspoon of baking soda in water and mix until it is completely dissolved. Put 2-3 drops of this mixture in your ear and let it sit there for a few minutes. Once the earwax is softened you can use a cloth to remove it.

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2 Bonus Home Remedies

Here are 2 bonus home remedies for you that are very simple, easy, and yet effective.

  1. Warm Water

warm water as a natural ear wax removal

You might be wondering how warm water on its own can help you in getting rid of your earwax. But it’s one of the simplest methods. You need a syringe for this purpose, which you will fill with warm water – not cold, not boiling! Water that is just slightly above room temperature. Using the syringe you will dispense few drops of water in your ear. Make sure that you are able to fill up your ear canal with this warm water. In order to let the water stay at place, keep your head slightly up and wait for a few minutes. What this water will do is that it will displace your ear wax making it easy to be removed.

  1. Glycerin

Glycerin as a natural ear wax removal

Glycerin works great when it comes to removing earwax. It works as a lotion and when applied to earwax, it softens it and removes it easily. You need to pour in a few drops of glycerin in your ears, place a cotton ball in your ear and let it sit there for a few hours. Take out the cotton ball and clean your ear with water. Let your ear dry after the process is done.

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What to do in case of deficiency of fatty acids?

If the cause of excessive buildup of earwax in your ears is the deficiency of fatty acids then you need to focus more on correcting your diet. You should start of by increasing your daily intake of these fatty acids. You can do this by taking Omega-3 fatty acid supplements. You can also add foods rich in fatty acids like cod liver oil, sardines, flaxseed, salmon and other sea food items in your diet.

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Alternative earwax removal techniques

Alternative ear wax removal techniques

If none of the above earwax removal remedies give fruitful results and you still have earwax accumulated in your ears, then you should most definitely visit your doctor. Your doctor will suggest you one or some of the following ear wax removal product/process:

  1. Ear Drops

In the initial phase of earwax removal treatment, doctors usually prescribe their patients some ear drops that are to be used at least twice daily. These ear drops have special formula that helps in relaxing the hardened ear wax and removing it easily. Some of these are to be used for a longer period of time as well.

  1. Ear irrigator

What an ear irrigator does is that it uses water at high pressure in order to clear out ear wax. Doctor uses this pressurized water at different points to displace earwax.

  1. Microsuction

If ear drops and the electrical irrigator don’t work, then doctors go for suction of ear wax known as Microsuction. In this process a suction device is used to gently suck ear wax. This is a fast and painless process without any consequences. 

  1. Removal of ear wax using Jobson Horne Probe

A slim metal instrument named Jobson Horne Probe is used for removing ear wax. A ring is attached to one end of this instrument that helps in manually removing ear wax. You don’t a microscope for this process rather direct looking at the ear is required. Once these procedures are done you have your ears free from ear wax.

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What to do once earwax removal is complete and successful?

Now that you have successfully removed your ear wax there are a few things that you need to be doing in order to keep it from coming back again and again. As explained previously, Q-tips are one of the major reasons for earwax accumulation. We are wrongly taught to use them daily in order to clean our ears. Stay away from using Q-tips and other DIY earwax removers, like pointy bobby pins and cotton swabs. These items only clog your ears even more. Don’t use earwax candling or hot oil to clear ear wax as there is a lot of risk involved in these methods. You have a greater chance of burning your ears or damaging them in any way. Overall, clean your ears gently. Don’t push too hard in an effort to remove more earwax.

Always use a clean cloth or tissue paper to remove earwax. Any dirty item that will come in contact with your earwax will only make it worse instead of cleaning it up. We also suggest you buy an Earwax removal kit. Such kits are widely available in the market and are a great way of removing wax if you have a persistent problem of earwax buildup. 

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Sources and References

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The safety and effectiveness of different methods of earwax removal
  2. FairView: Earwax Removal
  3. WikiHow: How to Get Rid of Ear Wax
  4. NHS Choices: Earwax build-up

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