Our ears are impressive organs, not just because they enable us to hear, but also because they clean themselves. Earwax, also known as cerumen, is produced by the body to protect the ear canal. In many cases, you don’t have to worry about ear cleaning, but if you accumulate too much wax, this can cause problems. If you’re prone to excessive wax production, or you’re worried that there may be a buildup of wax inside your ear canal, here’s a handy guide to ear cleaning.

Do I need to clean my ears?

The ears have self-cleaning mechanisms, which are designed to protect the sensitive parts within the ear canal. Your body produces earwax to trap particles and debris before it can reach the ear canal. If you have the right amount of wax, you shouldn’t have to worry about ear cleaning. However, if you have too much wax, cleaning may be recommended. A buildup of wax can impact your hearing, it can prevent hearing aids from working properly, and it can also cause pain if the wax becomes hard and impacted. It’s a good idea to wipe your ears gently with a damp cloth after showering to keep them clean. If you’re worried about a potential wax buildup, or you don’t feel that your ears are as clean as they should be, don’t hesitate to ask your audiologist for advice.

How can I clean my ears safely?

Many people attempt to clean their ears by inserting various objects into the ear canal to try and remove wax. If you do have excessive wax, the best thing to do is to use oil-based drops to clean the ears. If this doesn’t work, arrange to see your audiologist. Your audiologist can use tried and tested techniques to dislodge wax safely and painlessly.

What not to do

Often, if you feel that you have a collection of wax in your ear canal, the first reaction is to stick a cotton swab down your ear. You may think that you’re helping by doing this, but it can actually be counterproductive. Putting a swab or any other object in your ear can actually push the wax further into your ear canal, and if you reach too far into the ear, you could also damage your eardrum. We also advise against trying trends like ear candles. If you need advice, or you’re worried about wax, we urge you to get in touch with your audiologist. It’s particularly important to seek advice if you pain in your ears or earache, ringing noises, dizziness, or hearing loss.

Earwax is a substance produced by the body to protect the ears. In many cases, there’s no need to clean the ears on a frequent basis, but if you have hearing aids or you’re prone to wax buildup, it’s a good idea to learn more about ear cleaning. If there is an excess of wax, this can contribute to hearing loss and cause discomfort. If you think you may have too much wax inside your ears, the best thing to do is contact your audiologist. DIY methods can be effective, but they can also do more harm than good.