What’s the best way to clean your ears?

Published 08 August 2018  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 3 mins read

The best way to clean ears is a subject that’s not often given much thought – most people just reach for the cotton buds, but really, that’s one of the worst things you can do. We’ve got some simple guidance on how to take the best care of your ears to keep them healthy and clean.

Avoid putting cotton buds in your ears

Virtually all of us are likely to have used cotton buds to try to remove ear wax (cerumen) at one time or another, but we strongly recommend not doing so. Not only does it result in around 7,000 hospital admissions every year, but they push wax deeper into the ear canal and remove the natural oils that guard your ears against itching and infection.

Instead, try to leave your ears to clear the wax by themselves – it’s what nature designed them to do. However, occasionally cerumen can build up to excess levels and become a problem.

It may be that just a couple of drops of olive oil in your ear canal twice a day will dislodge the ear wax after a few days. If not, the audiologists at The Hearing Care Partnership offer an expert ear wax removal service using the latest, safest removal methods, including microsuction.

Gently does it

Did your mother ever tell you to wash behind your ears? Your ears hold apocrine sweat glands, which are the same glands that make other parts of your body sweat and can cause odour, so it’s sensible to include your ears in your normal bathing routine. When it comes to cleaning them though, you don’t need a special ear cleaner or ear cleaning solution – a gentle wipe with a damp flannel in the shower is all that’s needed.

Don’t worry about water

While some people are apprehensive about the idea of getting water in their ears, the chances of it causing a problem, such as an infection, are slim, so there’s no need to undertake a complete ear wash after a dip in the sea.
The only time water can be an issue is if it stays in your ears for a long time after you’ve got out of the water, but this is rare. The water can remove your ear’s natural defences and cause infection, which is known as swimmer’s ear. However, it can be treated with antibiotics, or swimming ear plugs can prevent it altogether. The Hearing Care Partnership offer a wide range of specialist ear plugs and hearing protection – just ask for more information.

Ask the experts

If you have any queries or concerns about the day-to-day care of your ears, speak to one of our expert audiologists. Whether you’d like more information on hearing protection or ear wax removal, we’re happy to help. You can call us on 0800 52 00 546, book an appointment online or visit your local practice.