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Can I Safely Put Peroxide in the Ear?

By B. Chisholm
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hydrogen peroxide is safe to use in the ear at the correct dilution, in the right situation and for the right indication. It can be used for ear wax removal, loosening debris or wax and providing an antimicrobial effect. Commercial preparations of hydrogen peroxide for use in the ear are available in some countries. In others, the preparation may be freshly prepared by a pharmacist. In this case, the solution should be used as soon as possible after preparation.

Wax, or cerumen, is a hydrophobic yellowish substance produced by the ear. It is made up of secretions, dead skin and hair, which naturally come out over time. The wax provides both a waterproof barrier and protects the ear from bacteria and other foreign substances. Unnecessary removal of the wax is not recommended, as the wax works to protect the ear.

Excessive accumulation of wax may occur, however, and this may need treatment. Impaction of wax may cause hearing loss, pain or dizziness. If pain is experienced, peroxide in the ear should not be used without medical supervision. Other causes, such as rupture of the ear drum, should first be ruled out by the doctor. Such causes may require alternative treatment.

Diluted hydrogen peroxide in the ear is used to soften the wax and allow easier removal. It is a water-based solution and works using a foaming action to loosen debris and wax. The foaming effect is due to the release of oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide in the ear may be used to soften the wax before irrigation of the ear, or on its own for a longer period. Usually the drops are instilled 15 to 30 minutes before irrigation, and the user needs to keep his head tilted to keep the drops in the ear canal until the irrigation is finished. When used alone, the drops should be instilled once or twice daily for three to four days. Again, it is necessary to keep the head still and tilted for a little while after instilling the drops to prevent them from running out of the ear.

The ear is a delicate organ and should always be treated with care. If there is any doubt as to the cause of loss of hearing, pain or dizziness, medical attention should be sought. Objects and solutions should not be inserted into the ear without medical supervision. It is not normally necessary to clean out ear wax, as the process should occur naturally.

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Discussion Comments
By anon338996 — On Jun 19, 2013

Last night I woke up with extreme pain in my right ear. It was a sharp, piercing pain. Repositioning my head didn't help. I could hear something weird in there too, like the rushing sound you hear when you hold your ear up to a sea shell. I'd been swimming a couple of hours earlier in a pool, and before that spent hours outside in a wooded area where I've gotten a lot of ticks the last couple of months. I was afraid it was a tick, but my friend couldn't see anything with the flashlight.

I couldn't take the pain; it was stabbing frequently but at irregular intervals. I went to the bathroom, poured a little hydrogen peroxide in it and let it sit a bit. Then I tilted my head into the sink. A little ant came out! The ant had been chewing in there. I don't think you're supposed to put alcohol in your ear, but since I worried about infection, I put a little in after the peroxide.

I feel so much better this morning. I'm still a little sore in the same area I felt the pain that woke me up, but I can hear normally. Who would ever think they'd have to worry about insects entering their ear and chewing their eardrum? Sheesh.

By honeybees — On Aug 27, 2011

My husband gets a lot of wax in his ears, and has used peroxide for ear wax removal several times.

A couple months ago a small bug flew in his ear and he could hear it buzzing around in there. He tried to remove it on his own by cleaning out his ear with hydrogen peroxide, but it didn't work.

When he went to the doctor, he really cleaned out his ears and was surprised at how much wax was in there. He said in this situation with the bug, it might have even helped by trapping it and keeping it from going all the way down the ear canal.

Since he had the wax removed from his ears, he can't believe how much better he can hear.

By John57 — On Aug 27, 2011

It seems like I regularly get ear wax build up in my right ear. This doesn't affect my hearing, but when I go to the doctor and they check my ears, there is always wax on that side.

I decided to try some hydrogen peroxide for my ear wax removal at home. I thought I would give it a try myself and see if it worked before scheduling an appointment with the doctor.

I read through several different websites that gave information on how to do it correctly and how much peroxide to use. It was all pretty self explanatory and I didn't have any problems or burning when I put the drops in my ear.

Since then, I try to do this on a regular basis so the wax doesn't build up as much.

By Jacques6 — On Aug 26, 2011

@amsden2000 - You can follow the instructions on the bottle only if they are for removing ear wax. Just make sure that it isn't for rinsing your mouth or something, since that takes a different solution.

I use 1 and 1/2 teaspoon for each cup of water -- which males it around 3% hydrogen peroxide. That's what my doctor suggested I use for my mixture and that's what the standard is when you get the premixed stuff. Make sure you use it right after you mix it up and dry your ears carefully afterward.

By amsden2000 — On Aug 26, 2011

@MedicineBall - How much do you dilute your peroxide? Every website I've looked at seems to have a different idea on how to dilute it to use for ear wax removal. Should I just follow the bottle's suggested use?

I have scratched the inside of my ear before -- not fun. It hurts and it's very distracting when I'm trying to work. Honestly, it sounds like hydrogen peroxide keeps your ears clean enough you wouldn't need the q-tips.

I might still use them to dry my ears afterward, but not for cleaning.

By MedicineBall — On Aug 25, 2011

@amsden2000 - Hydrogen peroxide can prevent ear infections and it's safe to dry your ears with q-tips -- just do it carefully. When drying your ears, never press hard with the q-tip. You can hurt your ear drums. It might feel good to scratch in there – but don't!

Hydrogen peroxide works really well for ear wax removal and it is very cheap. Since you have to dilute it, one bottle can last a long time. As for pricing, I can usually my bottles for under a dollar, depending on the bottle size.

Hope this helps.

By amsden2000 — On Aug 24, 2011

I used to ear infections as a kid, so I always have to keep my ears clean. I've tried using ear drops, but I've never used hydrogen peroxide. It sounds like it's cheaper option than the ear drops. Since I have to clean my ears so often, it can get kind of expensive.

Does hydrogen peroxide prevent ear infections? Is it safe to dry my ear with a q-tip when I'm done? My doctor told me not to leave my ears too wet inside, since that can lead to infections. Any help would be great!

By SZapper — On Aug 24, 2011

@KaBoom - I think I'd be scared to put hydrogen peroxide in my ears. That being said, I have a friend that uses a hydrogen peroxide solution to irrigate her sinuses!

She has tons of sinus issues, and she went to and ENT. He suggested she use a neti pot with a hydrogen peroxide solution. He cautioned her to make it a pretty weak solution and also told her hydrogen peroxide sinus irrigation isn't for everyone, so not to suggest it to her friends!

By KaBoom — On Aug 24, 2011

A good friend of mine had some impacted earwax removed awhile back. She had so much wax built up in there that she was having trouble hearing! Her doctor suggested she try the peroxide at home, but she was too scared. She felt better having the doctor take care of it.

So she the doctor did the procedure at the office. My friend said the amount of stuff that came out her ear was amazing and gross at the same time.

By MrSmirnov — On Aug 23, 2011

Does anyone know if it is a good idea to put peroxide in your ear if you want to later try ear candling?

I have had a lot of trouble with excess wax buildup in my ears and it seems to me that using a peroxide solution in the ear might be a good way to get some of the excess wax out. I feel that having too much of a wax buildup is making it difficult for me to hear as well as I could.

I would also like to try ear candling as I am curious as to how it feels. It seems like another safe way to draw bad things out of your ears. I just wonder if they would work together.

By manykitties2 — On Aug 23, 2011

It seems like a good idea to go to the doctor if you are considering putting peroxide in your ear to take care of wax build up or other issues. For myself I feel like I get too much of waxy buildup and I am self-conscious about the appearance of the wax. I don't want my stylist to see it.

I usually take a damp cotton swab and gently clean out my ears if I see anything that looks too obvious. While I know this could be dangerous I am very careful not to actually insert the cotton swab into my ear canal. I have heard horror stories about people puncturing their ear drums like that.

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