At Home Ear-Wax Removal Techniques

Updated February 21, 2017

Ear wax protects your ear by preventing debris from entering your ear canal. Wax can sometimes become impacted in the ear, resulting in a feeling of fullness and causing decreased hearing. Consult your physician if you have trouble removing the wax from your ear, if your ear canal is painful, red or swollen, or if you notice any discharge from your ear.

Soften Wax with Oil

Place several drops of oil in each ear. Use any type of oil, such as mineral oil, baby oil or cooking oil. Put a piece of cotton in your ear to prevent from staining your clothing or pillowcase. Leave the oil in your ear for several hours, or overnight. Repeat for several days, or until the wax can easily removed, advises Puget Sound University Counseling, Health and Wellness Services. You can also use a commercial ear wax softener.

Soften Wax with Hydrogen Peroxide

Lie on one side. Mix a solution of half warm water and half hydrogen peroxide. Use an eyedropper to place several drops of the solution into your ear, recommends the University of Virginia Student Health Center. Drain the solution from your ear, then repeat on the other side.

Removing the Wax

Remove the softened wax from your ear canal. Lean over a sink and pull the top of your ear upward to straighten your ear canal. Use a bulb syringe to direct a gentle stream of warm water onto the wall of your ear canal. Turn your head and allow the water to drain. Repeat several times, or until the wax clears. Place a few drops of rubbing alcohol into your ear to dry the ear canal, or use a hair dryer set on the lowest setting. Irrigate your ears once monthly to prevent build-up of ear wax.


Never attempt to remove an ear wax blockage with cotton swabs, hairpins, matches, sticks or other objects, as doing so drives the wax further into your ear canal and makes the impaction worse. Don't attempt to remove ear wax if you think you may have a perforated ear drum. Don't use ear candles, which usually don't work and can burn the ear.

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About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.