Why Cleaning Ear With Cotton Swab Should Be Avoided?

Ranjeet KumarReviewed by Mr. Ranjeet Kumar Sr. Audiologist, Speech Therapist & Cochlear Implant Specialist, BASLP on May 8th, 2020 written by Editorial Team

There is a familiar saying in the healthy hearing world, “Don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.” Cotton swabs or Earbuds seem harmless being the reason for getting commonly used for ear cleaning purposes.

Though it can prove to be dangerous for your ear and hearing. Still, some people swear by Q-Tips to clean earwax and debris from the ear canal even after being warned by the medical experts.

You can purchase the latest hearing aids at a fair price through HearingSol, If you need any assistance or you have a query regarding Cleaning Ear or Hearing Loss, feel free to call us at +91-9327901950. We are always here to help you.

Use of cotton swabs leads to many unwanted results i.e. punctured eardrums causing bleeding, super impacted wax, inflammation of ear canal, temporary or permanent hearing loss, vertigo, conductive hearing loss, ear infections, or even paralyze the face.

This DIY ear cleaning process can have severe negative consequences. There are many cotton earbuds packages with a warning for not using it to clean the ear canal. But still, people end up in emergency wards with perforated eardrums.

A related study stated more than 2,63,000 children were affected by this between the year 1990 to 2010, which is almost 34 injuries a day. Two-third of the children were below 8 years of age.

What Is The Need Of Earwax?

Earwax is also known as cerumen or waxy oil which is produced by specialized cells in the ear canal and is composed of layers of skin, fatty acids, cholesterol, and alcohol.

This protects our ear from dust, foreign particles, microorganisms and contains antibacterial and lubricating properties. It also prevents small insects from entering the ear canal while we are sleeping.

Need of Earwax

Though it looks disgusting and irritating, earwax does more good than harm to us. Its accumulation differs from person to person.

While in some people accumulation is faster than others which can lead to wax build-up. This can cause pain as well as decreased hearing ability.

To avoid medical consultation people use cotton earbuds instead, to remove earwax from causing more harm to themselves.

Why Cotton Swabs/Earbuds Should Be Avoided?

not to clean earwax through earbuds or Cotton Swab

It is important to keep in mind that nothing should be placed in the ear nearby ear canal to clean dirt and debris, as gentlest of the pressure can rupture eardrum because of its delicacy.

As eardrums are much closer than we have thought. Cotton earbuds seem to be of perfect shape and size to fit in the ear canal to clear the wax build-up.

This can be your biggest mistake because even the slightest slip can damage your eardrums. Further, it can even push the earwax deeper into the middle ear which will add on to your problem.

Some common symptoms of heavy earwax build-up are tinnitus, pain, dizziness, coughing, or drainage from the ear.

People use several items to clean their ear. The most interesting ones are listed below:

  • Cotton Swabs(Q-Tips)
  • Hair Pins
  • Pens or Pencils
  • Tweezers
  • Straws
  • Paper Clips
  • Toys

Earwax build-up is truly frustrating but using these above items will not resolve your problem instead it can generate some severe ear problems which none of you want to have so, cotton swabs or other above-given items should not get into our ears for any purpose.

Cleaning ear with q-tip actually touches your eardrums. You know that your eardrums are very sensitive, thus q-tip damage ear. Earbuds also strangle the small hairs present inside our ear and hence improves hearing.

What Are The Major Problems Arise Using Cotton Swabs?

There are the following problems you will face when you try to clean your ear with cotton swabs or Q-tip’s. So before you try to insert any of these things you must have a look upon these below-given factors:

1. You can injure your ears

The skin of our ear canal is very thin, so it can easily damage if something touches or rubbed inside the wrong way. The use of a q tip can cut the ear canal or cause a wound.

When you are putting a Q-tip in your ear. It can rupture your eardrum and can affect your hearing. Sometimes It is very painful and can affect your hearing.

2. Little wax is good for ears

It is not necessary to clean ear on a permanent basis, because our ear has self-cleaning quality, and little wax protect our ear if we properly clean our ear then the chance of immediate hearing loss is increased.

Having some wax in our ear canal help to protect your ear with dust and bugs.

3. Make your ear itchy

As we discussed above, the skin of the ear canal is very thin and sensitive. Constantly clean the ear make it dry, Dry skin means itchy skin. Because of that many people have an itchy ear complaint.

4. Make it worse

When you are cleaning your ear, you find some brown or white spots on the tip of q-tip. Yes, that means you get some wax out.

But unintentionally you push some wax inside the near ear canal. Even though you are removing the small part of the wax but on another hand, you are pushing more inside near the ear canal.

This can cause the wax to become impacted deep into the ear canal. Once it happens you have to go to the physician to clean it out.

“Anything that fits in the ear could harm to your eardrum and canal with the potential for temporary or even permanent damage.”

Some person produces more wax than others. This is because of ethnicity, diet, family history, and other factors. At the old age, the ceruminous gland shrink, because of age, the ear wax becomes dry.

Dryness keeps the ear from cleaning itself well, so skin particles may accumulate as a consequence and result in a greater amount of wax in the ear.

Is Ear Cleaning With Cotton Swabs Really Required?

There is no clear answer to this question. But your ear does not need frequent cleaning as you loose earwax naturally.

Though the outer part of the ear (pinna) requires cleaning every now and then. This can be done easily using little soap with water and washcloth while you shower.

The skin of the ear canal grows in an outward motion or spiral pattern, which helps easy removal of earwax. The earwax moves naturally from the deep inner ear to the ear canal where it dries up and falls.

But in many cases, such as while washing hair or taking shower, water enters the ear canal to loosen the accumulated wax and fall out while the person is sleeping.

Chewing motion of jaw can also help in this. So, you really don’t need to do anything to check whether your ear is clean or not.

In rare cases, the earwax gets stuck due to excessive build-up and causes the blockage which can be painful.

You should visit a doctor for your ear clean-ups in these cases and avoid using any cotton earbuds or swaps to clean it on your own.

Do’s And Don’t of Ear Cleaning

A person with heavy earwax build-up should consult a doctor who can remove ear wax using a little peroxide mixed with water and inject it into the ear. You must follow the given do’s and don’t carefully

Do’s of Cleaning Ear

The process is painless and really effective. If earwax build-up is frequent in your case, then ask your doctor regarding the earwax removal procedure which can be carried out at home.

Even if you are suffering from itchy or painful ear, consult your physician to get rid of itchy ears and avoid your DIY ideas for better hearing health.

Earwax build-up is a major problem for hearing aid wearers and needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. You can follow the below-given points to get relief from earwax before visiting a doctor.

  • Over-the-counter(OTC) products and eardrops for earwax removal can be effective.
  • Use lukewarm baby oil, mineral oil, or liquid docusate sodium into your ear for 60 seconds and then drain it over the washcloth.
  • Hydrogen peroxide might dissolve earwax when used 2-3 times per day if not then visit your doctor nearby to have a hearing test.
  • Olive oil or Cerumenolytic drops can be used to loosen the earwax, but extracting it should be done by a doctor.

As many cases have been acknowledged for an ear infection or hearing loss while trying to clear earwax. This should be performed by a nurse or GP using micro-suction or syringing.

And in the case where there is no symptom of blocking the ear canal, the earwax should be left alone.

Don’ts for Cleaning Ear

Ignoring symptoms and trying home remedies for earwax will ultimately lead you to severe infections or ear pain. Sometimes overcleaning can also cause irritation to the ear canal.

Water Irrigation or ear syringing method is also not advisable as it causes a sudden change in pressure inside the ear canal. If not performed properly can cause more harm.

Some other home remedies such as “ear vacuum” are advised against as well. Any other cleaning kit or device which is not certified medically can add on to your problems.

Though cotton swabs or earbuds are fine for outer ear maintenance, Consulting a hearing professional will be a safer choice.

What Do Experts Say About Using Cotton Swabs?

Hearing Experts don’t advise using Q-tips, pencils, keys, or anything smaller in size than your elbow. The reason behind is that as the q tip goes in your ear, ear bleeding after cleaning with q tip can also initiate.

The main danger of inserting foreign things inside your ear is that you can’t realize and see how potentially it can cause significant harm.

Do you have any idea what can happen to your ear? You can irritate, scratch, and cut the ear canal.

Also, you can damage the eardrum, and furnish your efforts unsuccessful by pushing whatever has been build by the wax deeper down the ear.

For those having heavy wax build-up, a doctor visit may be needed. Doctors can easily remove ear wax using peroxide mixed with water which is then injected into the ear.

It is virtually painless and effective to eliminate impacted wax.

If you experience significant wax build up in your ear canals, book an appointment with hearing healthcare professional. They can assess the situation and determine the best course of action.


At the end of the article, it is concluded that we can say that q-tip which is used widely in the world for cleaning ear wax is not suitable and safe for your ear.

The reason is that it can cause hearing loss at any step of life. It is not very necessary to clean your ear on a daily basis. It is not bad for your health even.

For the more waxy ear, we have discussed various solutions above, which can help you to clean your ears safely.

You can purchase the latest hearing aids at a fair price through HearingSol, If you need any assistance or you have a query regarding Cleaning Ear or Hearing Loss, feel free to call us at +91-9327901950. We are always here to help you.

Relevant Article:

✅ How to Remove Water from Ears (15 Easy Way To Get Fluid Out)
✅ Causes Of Hearing Loss In Children
✅ 13 Ways To Prevent Hearing Loss

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