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Do not Use Earbuds to Remove Wax!!

Written by
Dr. Jagdish Chaturvedi
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Sep 04, 2014 and last reviewed on Jun 13, 2022   -  1 min read


This article stresses upon the fact that earbuds should not be used to remove wax. It also discusses the best way to remove ear wax.

Do not Use Earbuds to Remove Wax!!

Yes, it is true that the use of earbuds is not recommended for removal of ear wax.

Why is it Unsafe to use Earbuds?

The reason is very simple.

  • Ear wax is produced by glands present in the outer part of the ear canal which is close to the ear pinna (outer part of the ear).
  • The skin in the outer ear canal grows outwards at a speed of one to three millimeters per day.
  • Wax that is produced is expelled out on its own along with the growing skin.
  • Therefore there is no need to try and remove the wax from within the ear canal.
  • By inserting an earbud the wax is pushed inside the canal into a narrower bony region from where the skin is tightly adherent to the bone and hence does not grow outwards.

When the ear wax stays there, it dries up and gets impacted. This can cause decreased hearing and also ear pain if it gets infected.

How to Remove Ear Wax?

  • The best way to remove ear wax is by cleaning the ear canal superficially with the edge of a thin towel or handkerchief after a hot water bath.
  • Those with large amounts of sticky wax may need to use ear drops that help dissolve wax and can be removed using a small procedure called syringing.

Remember, ear wax is protective. It prevents entry of dirt, reduces infection and even prevents insects from entering into the ears.

For any clarifications regarding ear wax removal, consult an ENT otolaryngologist online -->


Frequently Asked Questions


Can Earbuds Make Ear Wax Worse?

Earbuds tend to increase ear wax build-up. The ears are designed to be cleaned by themselves, so using earbuds can harm them. They affect the airflow present in the ear canal, leading to more buildup of ear wax.


Why Should Earbuds Not Be Used?

The earbud not only removes the wax but pushes it inside the ear canal. This drives the wax against the ear drum of a person. This can lead to loss of hearing and severe ear pain, which can become chronic with time.


How to Safely Remove Ear Wax?

The safest way to remove the ear wax is to visit the doctor for earwax removal. The doctor uses special instruments like forceps, cerumen spoons, or suction devices to clear or empty the blockage. Some offices also offer professional irrigation for ear wax removal.


How to Massage Ear Wax From the Ear?

Massage is an effective method to remove ear wax. Warm olive oil with the help of a dropper can be administered in the affected area of the ear before placing cotton. It helps massage the ear to relieve ear wax.


What Food Can Lead to Ear Wax Formation?

Excessive production of ear wax can be seen when the person consumes a lot of dairy products like eggs, milk, and cheese. This happens because dairy products contain lactose. Doctors recommend the consumption of flex seeds along with castor oil to help prevent earwax buildup.


Why Does So Much Ear Wax Form All of Sudden?

Earwax is a normal part of the human body and is a mixture of dead skin cells from the secretion of the sweat gland and ear canal. The formation of ear wax can occur suddenly due to ear infections, irritation from hearing aids, ear hair, chlorinated water buildup, and residue from bathing products. Unremoved earwax buildup can often lead to severe pain in the ear, drainage from the ear, and an odor coming from the ear.


Can be Blocked Ear Wax Get Cleared by Itself?

Ear wax often gets removed on its own with time. But in some cases, earwax may cause problem in the ear. A massage method or doctor can be consulted if the ear wax does not get removed on its own.


What Does Excessive Earwax Feel Like?

Sometimes the person does not realize or experience the amount of ear wax in the ear. Sudden partial hearing loss can be a sign of excessive ear wax. It can also give the feeling of something stuck in the ear and can be irritating.


How Long Does It Take to Soften the Ear Wax?

The ear wax can be softened by using warm mineral oil. It can also be mixed with hydrogen peroxide in an equal amount at room temperature. Two drops of this fluid are warmed to the body temperature and are applied in the ear two times a day for at least five following days.


What to Do When Ear Wax Appears Too Deep?

If the ear wax appears too deep inside the ear, the person can consult the doctor for its removal. The wax is flushed out using a syringe filled with saline or warm water, or diluted hydrogen peroxide. Medicated ear drops are also available and can be recommended to soften the wax, such as Carbamide peroxide.


How to remove stubborn earwax?

The stubborn earwax can be removed using an eyedropper to apply mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide, or glycerine in the ear canal with warm water. This is done by softening the wax using a rubber bulb syringe and gently squirting warm water into the ear canal. Although it gets removed easily sometimes, it becomes difficult to remove stubborn earwax.


Can Hot Shower Be Useful in Clogged Ear?

The shower can be useful in case of a clogged ear; the person can sit in the bathroom for 10 to 15 minutes. The steam originated from the hot water helps to loosen the mucus in the ear. Another option includes the placement of a warm or hot washcloth over and around the ear.


What Is the Easiest Way to Remove the Ear Wax by Ourselves at Home?

The ear wax can be removed by softening it with mineral oil. As the wax becomes soft and loosens, it gets removed on its own. Warm water can be used along with a rubber bulb syringe to remove the excessive ear wax.


How to Clean the Ears Without the Ear Buds?

A washcloth can be used to remove the ear wax instead of the earbud. Also, it can be removed by losing it through mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide, glycerine, or baby oil. A hot shower can also be helpful for the removal of ear mucous easily.


What Is the Alternative Apart From Ear Buds to Clean Ear Wax?

An alternative that can be used to remove the ear wax instead of the earbud is tissue twirls consisting of pieces of tissue dipped in water and whipped around the ear. A damp washcloth can also be used to remove the ear wax. The other method includes diluted hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil, or castor oil instead of earbuds.

Last reviewed at:
13 Jun 2022  -  1 min read




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