Safe Ways to Clean Your Ears Using Natural and Alternative Remedies

Updated on March 20th, 2020
how to clean ears

The body produces ear wax, or cerumen, to lubricate the ear and ear canal. This sticky layer also possesses antibacterial properties and protects the ear by trapping dirt and all other foreign particles, thereby preventing them from entering the ear.

Normally, day-to-day activities like moving the jaw, speaking, and chewing pushes the earwax from the canal to the outer ear. Thus, the ear can be considered a self-cleaning organ(1).

However, in some cases, the wax buildup can make hearing difficult or cause a ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Such a condition is known as impaction and is followed by symptoms like earaches, clogged ears, odorous ear, dizziness, and coughing.

For some people, the shape of their ear canal can make it difficult for the ear to clean itself. Hence, in such circumstances, cleaning ears becomes a necessity.

How to Clean Ears?

1. Salt Solution for Ear Irrigation

saltwater for

Saline water is the best antibacterial solution that is readily available at home. In fact, saltwater irrigation is one of the most commonly used techniques(2) to clean ears safely and effectively.

[Read: Home Remedies for Ear Pain]

Why Does it Work?

Due to its ability to soften ear wax, saltwater can be used to irrigate the ear or simply as ear drops. Further, saltwater possesses antibacterial, antiseptic(3), anti-inflammatory, and antifungal(4) properties that will definitely cleanse the environment without side effects.

Materials Required

  • A teaspoon of salt
  • Half a cup of warm water (at normal body temperature)
  • A cotton ball
  • A clean washcloth


  1. Stir in the salt inside the warm water until it is completely dissolved.
  2. Soak the cotton ball in the solution.
  3. Tip your head to the side until the ear opening is facing upwards.
  4. Squeeze the cotton ball to put a few drops of saline water inside the ear. Stay in this position for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Now, tilt your head in the opposite direction to help the saline water to drain out.
  6. Clean the outer ear with the washcloth.
  7. Follow the same steps on the other ear.

NOTE: Ear irrigation kits are readily available in the market.

[ Read: Remove Ear Wax Naturally ]

2. Olive Oil

Using oil to clean ears is a common home remedy that has proven to be effective time and again. Here’s how to clean ear wax with olive oil.

Why Does it Work?

Olive oil lines the ear canal and its membrane to protect your ear from water-based ear infections. In fact, studies(5) indicate that the antibacterial property of olive oil is highly effective in reducing earache stemming from an ear infection.

Materials Required

  • Warm olive oil
  • Sterile dropper
  • Clean washcloth


  1. Tilt your head to one side and use the dropper to pour 3-4 drops of warm olive oil in your ear.
  2. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  3. Tip your head towards the other side to let the oil drain out.
  4. Wipe clean the outer ear with the washcloth.
  5. Repeat the process in the other ear.

[ Read: Treat Ear Infection Naturally ]

3. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide

For many years, the usage of hydrogen peroxide to clean ears has been considered to be an effective remedy. In fact, hydrogen peroxide is a primary component in a number of eardrop solutions.

Why Does it Work?

Hydrogen peroxide can unclog your ears due to its effervescent properties. Additionally, the bubbling of hydrogen peroxide can help the softening of wax.

Materials Required

  • A teaspoon distilled water
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • A sterile dropper
  • A clean washcloth


  1. Mix 3% hydrogen peroxide and water in a 1:1 ratio
  2. Use the dropper to administer 3-4 drops of this solution in your ear.
  3. Let it settle for about 5-10 minutes and then tilt your head in the opposite direction to drain out the liquid.
  4. Wipe clean your external ear with the washcloth.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 for the other ear.

[ Read: Hydrogen Peroxide for Ear Wax ]

4. Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol

A combination of vinegar and rubbing alcohol(6) is yet another way to clean your ears properly. Further, it is a highly effective remedy for treating swimmer’s ear.

Why Does it Work?

A mixture of vinegar and rubbing alcohol softens and loosens ear wax and flushes it out of your ear canal. Vinegar, or acetic acid, bears antibacterial qualities that prevent the growth of bacteria. On the other hand, the rubbing alcohol combines with the water and evaporates, thereby removing the water.

Materials Required

  • 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • White vinegar
  • Rubber bulb ear syringe


  1. Combine the rubbing alcohol and white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. Warm this solution to body temperature.
  2. Fill the bulb ear syringe with this solution and rinse each ear by squirting the solution inside your ear.
  3. Dry the ear using a hair dryer on a low heat setting.

[ Read: Remedies for Clogged Ear ]

5. Warm Water

warm water

Amongst all the other home remedies, the most effortless of them all is using warm water to flush your ear.

Why Does it Work?

Warm water can soften the earwax and flush it out of your ear canal. Normally, it is strongly advised to let a professional clean your ear with warm water.

Materials Required

  • Filtered, distilled water (warmed to body temperature)
  • Rubber bulb ear syringe


  1. Fill the syringe with the water and pour a few drops in your ear.
  2. Leave it for a couple of minutes, then drain your ear by tilting it to the other side.
  3. Follow the same steps on the other ear.

[ Read: Relieve Ear Pain Naturally ]


Here are a few things to keep in mind while cleaning your ears:

  • Clean your ears under supervision.
  • Avoid using cotton swabs or Q tips to clean your ears as it can push the ear wax deeper into the ear canal. A common rule of thumb is to avoid inserting anything smaller than your elbow inside your ear.
  • Use cotton swabs only to clean your external ear.
  • Follow the package instructions if you are using an irrigating kit.
  • Avoid inserting sharp objects like toothpicks, bobby pin, etc. inside your ear.
  • Do not attempt to clean your ears if you have diabetes, compromised immune system, hole in your eardrum, or tubes in the ear.
  • Limit the exposure to loud sounds. Wear protective earplugs to block out such sounds.
  • Do not use headphones for prolonged periods, especially at full volume.
  • Dry out your ears after swimming.

When to See a Doctor

Consider seeing a doctor if you feel a fullness in your ear and you are not comfortable cleaning your ears at home. Additionally, consult your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in or around the ear
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Difficulty hearing or muffled hearing
  • Repeated blockages

These symptoms could be a sign of an ear infection.

[Read: How to Unclog Ear]

Closing Thoughts

Now that you know how to clean your ears, you can use these remedies to prevent excessive wax buildup in your ears. However, it is normally recommended to allow the ear itself with minimum intervention. If you experience extreme pain or a sudden loss of hearing, see your doctor immediately.

[ Read: Remedies for Ear Piercing Infection ]


1. How often should you clean your ears?

If your ear produces excessive wax, consider cleaning it once or twice a week.

2. How to clean baby ears?

Dip a clean washcloth in some warm water and wring out the excess. Gently wipe the baby’s external ear and the area around the ear. Do this daily. Do not stick anything inside your baby’s ear even if you can see wax buildup inside. Make use of doctor-prescribed eardrops.

3. Are there any side effects of cleaning your ears too frequently?

Clean your ears sparingly as excessive wax removal can dry out the sensitive membrane of your ear canal.

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