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How do I Choose the Best Ear Wax Removal Tool?

By Matt Brady
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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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.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Cageybird — On Sep 05, 2014

I'm a little obsessive when it comes to keeping my ears wax-free. I've been known to use all sorts of things as ear wax removal devices, including paper clips, car keys and cotton swabs. I know none of those methods are safe, but I have a hard time finding ear wax removal products in my town.

I tried an ear wax removal tool I saw advertised on TV, but it didn't work as well as I had hoped. It was a miniature electric vacuum which supposedly suctioned out excess ear wax and water. The motor was way too loud and the suction was weak. I could do a better job with some ear drops and a rubber syringe. My doctor also told me that trying remove all of the wax from my ears was not a good idea, either. The wax helps trap dust and pollen and other contaminants.

By Buster29 — On Sep 05, 2014

I have noticed how difficult it can be to find ear wax removal products in many drugstores these days. I used to be able to find a kit with a rubber bulb syringe and a bottle of ear wax cleaner just about anywhere, but now I have to go to the larger drugstores to find one. I can usually find treatments for "swimmers' ear", but not for impacted ear wax removal.

I've heard that candling can be a good ear wax removal home remedy, but I've never tried it myself. Health food stores sell special cone-shaped candles made from beeswax. The user inserts the narrow end of the candle into his or her ear, and then lights the other end under supervision. The warm air is funneled into the ear, and a partial vacuum is supposed to draw out excess ear wax and other unwanted material.

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