A cotton swab placed in the ear may come out with wax on it, but it does more harm than good, by pushing wax further into the ear and causing build-up. The ear normally does a good job of removing wax on its own. If it becomes necessary to remove stubborn ear wax then it should be done the safest way possible. Doctors at The Mayo Clinic agree; this simple home method is the best for removing ear wax yourself.
Ear wax requires removal once it has become too thick or hard for the ear to clean out on its own. This type of ear wax can also become attached to the thin layer of skin in the ear canal, making it even harder to remove.
Start by softening the ear wax before attempting to remove it or have it removed. Using an eyedropper, put three or four drops of mineral oil, olive oil or hydrogen peroxide into your ear. Keep your head tilted to the side and your ear up for a couple of minutes to allow the oil to penetrate the wax. Place a tissue over your ear and tilt head to the opposite side to drain any excess oil. This should be done twice a day for four or five days.
If you have a tube or hole in your eardrum you should not put any liquid into your ear, consult a physician before attempting to remove wax at home.
After several days of softening the ear wax, it needs to be flushed out. This can be done in the shower, in the bath or over the sink. Fill a large cup with warm water and add a cap full of hydrogen peroxide. Using body temperature water will prevent dizziness. Fill a rubber bulb syringe with the warm solution and gently squirt it into your ear canal. As you squirt, tilt your ear down towards the bath, shower, or sink drain. Repeat several times, irrigating the ear canal is the best way to clean out the softened wax. If you start to feel pain or dizziness then stop; it's not normal for ear syringing to be painful.
When to See a Doctor
Manual removal of ear wax should not be attempted at home. It should be done by a trained physician. If after softening and flushing you experience pain, dizziness, or a loss of hearing, then the wax will have to be manually removed. Doctors will use a form of suction or a small tool that safely pulls the wax out of the ear. If you choose to go this route, it's still a good idea to soften the wax first; having hard wax pulled from your ear can be very pain full and make the ear canal bleed. If you have a hole or tube in your eardrum, then having a doctor remove your ear wax is best. Doctors at The Mayo Clinic recommend discussing ear wax with your physician before trying any home method of removal.