How to clean ear wax

Updated February 21, 2017

Earwax is a substance that naturally cleans and protects the ears. Under normal conditions, earwax does not need to be removed. Earwax only needs to be removed if it builds-up, hardens and effects hearing. Earwax should never be removed without first consulting with a doctor. Certain ear conditions can make home earwax removal dangerous to the health of the ear.

Lean your head to the side and point one ear up.

Drop a few drops of warm clean water into the ear that is facing up, using an eye dropper. Water that is at body temperature will feel the most comfortable in the ear canal. The water will soften the earwax. Earwax is a water soluble substance. Water is as effective as over-the-counter store bought ear wax removal drops. The American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, recommends the use of water for effective and safe earwax removal

Leave the head tilted for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the water to soften the earwax. Lay down and relax while you let the water do its work softening the wax. Softening the wax first, makes ear irrigation more effective.

Fill a clean bowl with warm, clean, room temperature water. To fill the bulb syringe with water, squeeze the bulb end of the syringe. Stick the end of the syringe in the water and release your grip on the bulb to fill the syringe with water.

Put your head up so that you are looking straight ahead. Irrigate the ear, using an ear syringe bulb filled with warm water to rinse earwax out of the ear canal. To use the syringe, insert the syringe tip just inside the ear canal (no more than 1/8-inch) and squeeze the bulb to release the water into the ear. Do the ear irrigation over a sink or other area where the water can drain.

Face the ear that you just irrigated down to let any excess water drain out.

Repeat the process with the other ear.


Consult with a doctor before irrigating wax out of your ears, if you experience pain in your ears from irrigation or if the irrigation does not remove hardened wax build-up.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm clean water
  • Eye dropper
  • Ear bulb syringe
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