Okay, so learning how to clean your ears properly may not be the most glamorous item on your to-do list, but it is an essential task to. The buildup of earwax—or, more medically speaking, cerumen impaction—is a perfectly normal occurrence. In fact, ear wax serves a very important purpose: protecting the inside of your ears from environmental irritants, pollutants, and dryness. However, too much of a good thing can lead to blockages, especially if you're prone to allergies that cause rapid buildup. We decided to put together a simple guide on how to clean your ears safely and effectively. You might be surprised at some of the common ear-cleaning methods that could be causing your ears more harm than good.
Read on to learn how to clean your ears in four simple steps.
1. Soften the Wax
Hardened wax is often responsible for reduced hearing or pressure in the ears. To reduce the sensation of pressure or fullness, it's first necessary to soften the wax. To do this, tilt your head to the side so that it's more or less parallel to the floor. This step can also be achieved lying on your side with your head on a towel to protect the pillow or fabric surface. Insert a few drops of mineral oil or baby oil into the ear; then wait about five to 10 minutes. Note: Tipping your face slightly toward the ground during this step may help the oil find its way into the ear more easily.
2. Gently Irrigate
Now that the wax is softened, it's time to irrigate. While you may be eager to remove that pesky ear wax as swiftly as possible, remember to be gentle and go slowly. Fill a bulb syringe with warm water (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or just over normal body temperature, is ideal); then flush directly into the ear. Be sure to aim forward slightly so the water doesn't bounce off the inner curvature of the ear. Since this step has a tendency to get a little messy, it's best to clean your ears in the tub or over a large sink (and don't wear anything you love).
3. Cleanse the Area
Using a clean, damp washcloth, gently wipe the outer ear to remove any excess wax or oil solution. Above all, avoid poking anything directly into the ear, including cotton swabs, brushes, or tweezers. If you don't feel immediate relief, give it a little time: Flushing the ears may take a few rounds of effort, and it can be helpful to let wax soften overnight, especially if you're experiencing resistance on a particular side. Always use a clean cloth to absorb any excess moisture or residue.
4. Consult an Expert
If you're still experiencing pain, pressure, or a seemingly indomitable buildup of wax, it may be a good idea to schedule a visit to your local clinic. In serious cases (or if time is of the essence), cleaning your ears safely and effectively might require outsourcing to a professional, who can suggest an effective remedy.
Up next, read on for our foolproof guide to cleaning makeup brushes.