How to get water out of the middle ear

Updated April 17, 2017

Water can enter your middle ear during activities such as swimming and bathing. Once water has found its way into your ear canal and tubes, it may become trapped by wax or other debris. Trapped water in the middle ear can be uncomfortable or painful and may affect your hearing abilities. Worse yet, trapped water may lead to an ear infection if it's not drained promptly. Because not everyone's ears are alike, you may need to try a variety of techniques before successfully getting water out of your middle ear.

Swallow hard. Swallowing opens the Eustachian tubes in the middle ear and allows fluid to flow through. If the fluid doesn't come out right away, try repeating the hard swallowing several times.

Put a few drops of rubbing alcohol in your ear. Rubbing alcohol evaporates water trapped in your middle ear.

Put a few drops of apple cider vinegar into your ear. Apple cider vinegar kills bacteria, preventing an ear infection, and flushes out dirt or debris that may trap water.

Take antihistamines to dry out your sinus and ear canals.

Apply heat from a hair dryer set on low (never apply hot air) or a warm compress to your ear area. Heat relaxes the muscles around your ear and provides a soothing sensation. The warm air from the hair dryer helps to evaporate trapped fluid.

Gargle with salt water to clear the Eustachian tubes.

Hold your head erect to allow for unobstructed drainage from your ears.


Use watertight earplugs when swimming or bathing to avoid water entering your middle ear.


Prolonged trapped water in the inner ear can provide a breeding ground for bacteria and lead to ear infections. If water trapped in your ear becomes a frequent, serious or prolonged problem, consult a doctor.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Antihistamines
  • Blow dryer
  • Salt water
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About the Author

Based just outside Eugene, Ore., Danielle Gream began writing professionally in 2010 for various websites. Gream is the co-owner of a business consulting firm that specializes in leadership training and effective communication. She holds a Bachelor of Science in communication from the University of Phoenix.