Our hearing is an incredibly important sense, although it’s also one that’s regularly taken advantage of. While it’s crucial to protect your hearing when surrounded by loud noises, it’s also important to understand how to clean your ears and what exactly earwax does for the auditory system.

Earwax has a bigger impact on your hearing health than you might at first suspect, so here are four tips to clean your ears without damaging your auditory health.  

1. Don’t over clean your ears

Did you know earwax is actually produced by our bodies to help keep the ears clean? It’s made in the inner ear and collects dirt, dust and debris from inside our ear canals, and then pushes it outward when we chew, yawn or talk.

So while you may think digging in your ears and removing wax is the hygienic thing to do, you’re actually disrupting your auditory system’s natural cleaning mechanism. If you’re not experiencing excessive, overly dry or foul-smelling earwax, or if your hearing is not muffled or impacted, just leave your wax alone.

2. Minimal ear cleaning required

So when is it OK to clean your ears? Most audiologists agree the best time to do any ear cleaning is after getting out of the shower or bath. To clean your ears, simply take a clean damp or dry cloth and wipe the outer parts of your ear. The steam and humidity from your shower or bath will help soften any earwax you may have moving out of your ear and then you use the cloth to wipe away any stray pieces. And you’re done!

3. Never stick anything inside your ear canal

Have you heard the old saying “never stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear?” Well, in this case, it’s incredibly true. Although cotton swabs, hairpins or pen caps may be tempting to stick inside your ear canal to remove wax with, you should never do this. For starters, you’re likely to actually impact more earwax than you are able to remove, which could result in an earache or decreased hearing ability. Additionally, the inner ear is comprised of delicate parts, including your eardrum, which is incredibly easy to rupture or damage when digging in your ears.

If you’re concerned you may have a wax impaction that’s affecting your hearing, consult with an audiologist and allow them to properly diagnose and treat your condition. 

4. Ask your audiologist for advice

Cleaning your ears should not be a difficult process to follow, especially if you have regular hearing and produce a normal amount of earwax. Before considering any ear cleaning drops or kits, be sure to schedule a visit with your audiologist to ensure you’re using a safe product and that your problems aren’t related to something more serious.