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How to Properly Clean Your Ears (and What Not to Do)

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Ear wax is one of those things everybody has — and everyone finds a little gross. Nobody wants to find it building up on the outside of the ear canal, where others can see it or it may attach itself to your earbuds. It’s fine to clean your outer ear when ear wax gets unruly, but you should think twice before digging into your ear with a Q-tip or another ear-cleaning device. Most physicians recommend against cleaning your ears in this way, as you could cause serious damage. Here’s a look at why your ears are generally better left to clean themselves.

The truth about Q-tips

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The cotton swab, better known as the Q-tip, is the most common device used for cleaning your ears. Its shortcomings illustrate the basic problems with using these types of instruments for ear wax removal. 

Thanks to their long, narrow shape, Q-tips are better for pushing ear wax into your ear than pulling it out. When you attempt to use one to clean your ear canal, you risk simply compacting the ear wax and creating a blockage that makes it harder to hear.

Worse still, if you push a Q-tip too hard or…

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