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"What is the safest and most effective way to clean wax-clogged ears? "


I am a 26 year old male with seasonal allergy symptoms (nasal congestion, itchy eyes,etc), and I occasionally have issues with wax clogging up my ears and affecting my balance and ability to hear. I have gotten quite a bit of mixed advice on how to safely and effectively clean out my ears, whether it is for regular hygiene or occasional wax clogging. I have gotten information that says that Q-Tips are okay -and- not okay for cleaning the ears. I would like to know the most safe and effective process to keep my ears clean and healthy.


There is definitely a topic that gets lots of attention and does not have much clarity. Cotton tipped applicators just seem to be the perfect choice, but ear-nose-and throat surgeons (aka, otolaryngologists) are united in stating that the risks of sticking something that far into your ear are too great to be recommended. Additionally, the fact that the ear wax is protective to the canal itself is another reason to leave it as it is.

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Finally, the removal of the ear wax will just stimulate the creation of even more wax that will make the problem become one that needs to be addressed more regularly. That leaves the role of the Q-tip as not much more than a device to clean the outer ear itself, and not be placed in the ear canal. Other options that are to be avoided include candling, which is dangerous on so many levels. The best options are the application of the many over the counter products that soften your ear wax and allow it to fall out by itself at night while you sleep. If things are really bad, your primary care doctor will be able to help you with gentle irrigation of the remaining wax. Good luck, and please speak to your doctor as needed.

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