When choosing an ear wax removal tool, you first need to consider the severity of wax buildup and, most importantly, what tools and substances are safe to insert into the ear. If the buildup is severe enough for wax to be impacted into the ear—to the point of discomfort and hearing difficulty—you should make an appointment with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. If the buildup is less severe, you might purchase an ear wax removal kit, which contains drops that help safely eliminate wax buildup. If using a tool to clear out wax, do not use cotton swabs or anything else that could potentially damage the ear canal. Use something less invasive, such as a wash cloth, instead.
Ear wax removal kits are widely available in retail stores. Most kits contain cleansing ear drops to insert into the ear. After the drops are in the ear for an amount of time, the ear may be wiped out with something non-invasive, such as a tissue or wash cloth. Such kits, if used correctly, are an effective and safe way to not only remove existing ear wax, but also to prevent excessive ear wax from building up in the future.
You might also use hydrogen peroxide as an ear wax removal tool. Dropping some hydrogen peroxide into the ear, as you would with drops from an ear wax removal kit, can be effective in ridding the ear of wax. Warm olive oil can work in the same way.
Cotton swabs are not safe for use as an ear wax removal tool, though they’re commonly used for that purpose. Some people also use ear spoons, a kind of narrow pick which can scoop out wax. If used improperly, these tools can penetrate too far into the ear canal, possibly damaging the canal and the ear drum. There are, however, cotton swabs which are designed to be used safely as an ear wax removal tool. Such swabs have a bulb that prevents them from reaching too far into the ear canal. Although they should still be used with caution, ear-safe swabs can be an effective ear wax removal tool.
If you have severe wax buildup, see an ENT specialist instead of attempting to clean it out yourself. With excessive ear wax, it is possible to accidentally push the wax farther back into the ear canal. The impacted wax can lead to worse agitation, and possibly cause infection and impacted hearing. ENTs are specially trained to safely remove buildup without damaging the ear canal.