4 Tips for Safe and Effective Ear Cleaning
Ear cleaning is a tricky topic. Just like any other part of your body, it’s important to keep your ears clean and free of bacteria. The tricky part is that your ears are designed to self-clean using the substance we all too often try to remove: earwax. Earwax isn’t the dirt you should be trying to remove from your ears; it actually helps keep dirt, bacteria and moisture out of them. The only time earwax is the problem is when your ears overproduce it. With this caveat in mind, here are four tips for safe and effective ear cleaning.
Clean your ears after a shower
Scraping dried-up wax out of your ears not only sounds unpleasant, it’s more likely to irritate them and trigger even more earwax production. The easier and safest time to remove excess earwax is right after a shower when the interior of your ears is warm and soft. Whether you simply wipe around the outside or use a few drops of an earwax softener, do it after your shower.
Clean with the natural design of your ears
The shape of your ears and your earwax, are designed to push dirt and bacteria out of your ears. Using pointed objects that push dirt and wax further into your ears works against your body’s natural process. Use only a circular motion to wipe around the outside portion of your ears to remove excess wax and moisture that has been pushed to the surface. If you use a device, choose one specifically designed for cleaning earwax safely – not a cotton swab, your finger, or other objects.
Use drops and irrigation sparingly
Some people produce enough earwax that it interferes with hearing, causes pain, or encourages ear infections. Home remedies like a few drops of peroxide, mineral oil, equal parts vinegar/water/rubbing alcohol, and over-the-counter earwax softeners are safe, but should be used sparingly. In most cases, you shouldn’t be using drops in your ears more than a few times a week. These substances can irritate and dry your ears, triggering more earwax production to protect them. Methods like irrigation encourage infections by introducing too much moisture to your ears. In short, the less you find it necessary to clean your ears, the better.
Seek professional help for serious earwax buildup
If earwax has become hard and impacted in your ear canal, it’s a danger to your hearing and your health. Home methods probably won’t work. For serious blockages, consult a qualified hearing health care professional for syringing and other in-office cleaning methods.