Potential Dangers of DIY Ear Cleaning

In Uncategorized by Dr. Arica Black, AuD

Dr. Arica Black, AuD

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is the body’s natural way of lubricating and protecting your ears. It filters out foreign and potentially harmful objects like dirt and dust. While it provides protection, too much earwax is harmful.

You may be tempted to clean your ears to prevent cerumen buildup. But before you pick up a cotton swab, here are the potential risks of DIY ear cleaning.

  • Potential Damage to the Eardrum – The eardrum is a delicate and sensitive part of the ear. As such, there is a major risk of rupturing your eardrum if you accidentally poke it.
  • Earwax Buildup and Blockage – Using cotton swabs will push the earwax deeper within the canal. This will make cerumen harder to remove once it gets stuck.
  • Ear Infections – Cleaning your ears too much can trigger an ear infection between the eardrum and the outer ear. This condition is known as otitis externa.

Why Cleaning Your Ears Is Discouraged

Our ears are self-cleaning organs. They clean themselves by moving the earwax slowly out of the canal opening. We are unaware of this when this process happens. Earwax only becomes a major problem if your hearing becomes impaired. Some people tend to produce more cerumen than others, depending on their age, ethnicity, and diet.

Dos and Don’ts When Cleaning Your Ears

Ear blockage due to earwax can lead to hearing problems, but there are proper ways to address it. Here are some dos and don’ts on how to properly clean your ears.


  • The best thing to do when you have earwax is to leave it alone. Since the ear is self-cleaning, you don’t have to do a lot to clean them.
  • Use cotton swabs to clean only the outer ear.
  • If you’re not sure how much earwax buildup you have, you should consult an audiologist. Schedule an appointment with your doctor for a professional ear wax removal.


  • Do not perform alternative ways of cleaning your ears, such as ear candles. Not only are they highly dangerous, but there has been no scientific evidence of their effectiveness.
  • Do not stick small objects such as cotton swabs, bobby pins, and other small and sharp objects to your ears.
  • Do not clean your ears too much by using over-the-counter drops and other home remedies. Since cerumen is naturally made by your body to lubricate and protect the ears, cleaning them too much can increase your chances of getting ear infections.

Contact us at The Hearing Doctor to learn more about cerumen (wax) management. We specialize in professional cerumen removal. Our clinic is located at 5607 114th St, Lubbock, TX.