Updated 10 April 2015

Do you use cotton earbuds to clean your ears?

There is a common misconception that you should clean your ears with a cotton earbud, but this is very bad advice.

The ear is a self-cleaning organ made up of specialised, sensitive tissue that produces wax to protect  the ear canal from infections and foreign bodies. Earbuds are particularly problematic as they may cause impaction of wax, irritation of the wax-producing cells (leading to more wax being formed) and even damage to the eardrum.

Here are some alternative, and safer, ways to clean your ears:

• Mix equal amounts of cool peroxide and hot tap water. Allow the mixture to reach body temperature and then irrigate the ear - gently - no more than twice a month.

• Mix one part plain vinegar and one part water and use four or five drops once a week.

• Make an appointment with a doctor to have ear wax removed, or try an over-the-counter treatment to soften the ear wax so it can be flushed out.

Read more:
Preventing hearing loss
Misophonia: when sounds drive you crazy




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