How To Clean Out Ears

If you suffer from a regular build up of wax or dirt in your ears you will want to know how to clean out ears safely. Cleaning of the ears can be dangerous if done incorrectly and you should take care when doing this. This article will explain the safest way to clean out your ears properly and minimize the risk of damage to your inner ear.

It is too easy for people to damage their own ears by inserting small objects such as cotton buds or Q-tips into the ear. Scratching the skin or even perforating the ear drum can lead to painful infections. Although the ear has its own internal cleaning mechanism, ears do suffer from the same hygiene problems as other parts of the body but you must use extreme caution when cleaning the ears yourself.


You may have a problem with cleanliness of the outer ear or a build up of wax in the inner ear.  The approach when cleaning the two different areas are different and you should be aware of how to clean out ears safely and when you must NOT clean them but should seek medical advice.

How To Clean Out Ears – The Steps You Should Take

Cleaning Out The Outer Ear

It is safe to clean the outer ear which is the part of the ear that you can see.  The outer ear includes the earlobe and the actual opening into the inner ear which is known as the ear canal. The outer ear will probably become coated with skin oil or “sebum” which is the oil produced by the body to protect and moisture the skin.  The “sebaceous glands” normally open onto hair and because the ears are on the hairline they will probably be coated with the skin oil.  Dirt and dust may get trapped on this sticky oil and you may wish to gently wipe over the outer ear, including the back of your ears, with a damp soapy cloth following by a damp clean cloth to remove the soap.

The outer ear also includes small folds which probably will trap skin oil, dust and dirt and earwax. When you are taking a shower you can gently wipe the folds and curves of the outer ear as this will help to keep them clear of dirt/debris or wax. You could also carefully use a cotton swab to clean the folds of the outer ear.  Gently wipe the swab into the folds using a clean one whenever one becomes covered in excess ear matter.

Do not clean the outer ear if there is a wound on the ear or if it has a crust, scab or discharge. The ear might already be infected or you might cause infection by wiping or rubbing it. You should consult your doctor in this situation.

Cleaning Out The Inner Ear

This is a controversial matter because the inner ear is very delicate and sensitive making it susceptible to damage.  When thinking about how to clean out ears you must remember that the ear naturally produces wax to protect the inner ear and eardrum. It is an important element of the body’s defences to prevent dirt and bacteria entering the inner ear and causing infection or hearing problems.

Normally the ear wax falls out of the ear without us even being aware of this but it is when there is an over production of ear wax that it becomes uncomfortable and people feel the need to remove the wax. When the wax becomes hard and causes pain it may be essential to remove it.

One of the frequent ear pain complaints seen by doctors is when people have tried to clear the wax themselves and it has been pushed back into the ear and compacted causing pain and irritation.

When considering how to clean out ears and you decide you wish to try removing the wax yourself you could try the following:

  • Sometimes after a shower or a sauna the ear wax becomes softer and it might be easier to gently remove this.
  • Warm up some olive oil and place two or three drops into your ear which may loosen the wax, alleviate the discomfort and allow the wax to come out. Be very careful not to use hot oil.
  • Wax-softening drops can also be bought from a pharmacist e.g. sometimes hydrogen peroxide is used for ear wax removal.
  • There are special cleaning kits which can be bought from the pharmacy which may work in removing the wax. This is a specifically designed product to soften the wax by putting a few drops of the liquid into the inner ear which will warm up the wax and allow it to flow out of the ear.  If necessary you can repeat the process but do try to remove the wax with a cotton swab. If you are not confident in following the instructions correctly you should not use the kit but rather seek medical advice.

Do not poke about in your ear in your ear with small objects. Even cotton swabs should not be used for deep cleaning as the can push the wax further in and compact it. If the wax is hard do not try to remove it but seek medical advice.


If the ear wax is discoloured see your doctor. If you have frequent problems with your ears, talk to your doctor who might refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist. If you notice any significant hearing loss or pain and burning in the ear itself arrange an appointment with your doctor immediately. I hope you know have a better understanding of how to clean out ears properly and safely and minimize the risk of damaging your inner  or outer ear.