Can you damage your ear with a cotton bud? The answer is yes! Cotton swabs cause more harm than good to our ears. Even though it is the most common item that we use and have been using for our entire lives to clean ear wax, in reality, it only ends up cleaning around 40% of it while pushing the rest of the wax further into our ear canal, which can result in hearing problems and future infections. So why exactly should we avoid using cotton swabs, and what are other healthier options for ear hygiene? Stay tuned to find out!

1. You may not need to clean your ears

Just like other parts of our bodies, ears do a pretty good job at cleaning themselves. The ear’s actual shape allows wax or cerumen to come off naturally during your sleep or while taking a shower. As long as you take your daily shower and clean the outer parts of your ear, you should be fine! If the wax is something that deeply bothers you, don’t worry, we have some healthy cleaning alternatives for you!

2. Wax is good for our ear health

Did you know that ear wax, also known as cerumen, is super good for our ears? Even though it might sound gross, ear wax has a lot of antifungal and antibacterial properties. This means having ear wax is a great way to prevent dryness, itchiness, scaling, and many other things, making it an ally to our health. Besides, our ears need to have wax for lubrication purposes. It also helps to prevent fungus growth and keeps bugs from crawling inside.

3. You can rupture your eardrum

Our delicate eardrum can be easily ruptured just by applying a little bit of pressure to it. This means that whenever you clean your ears with a cotton swab, you can accidentally rupture it. Everyone has had that bad sensation when they accidentally go too far with their q-tip inside their ears. It’s a feeling that nobody wants to relieve, but most of us have. A ruptured eardrum is one of the main causes of ear pain and ear loss, often after an “ear cleaning session.” Be careful and avoid placing the q-tip deep inside your ear. So how can we clean our ears without harming them, you may ask. Here, we have the answers for you. Check below these four quick and easy methods on how to clean and take care of your ears without compromising its health:

4. Hydrogen Peroxide

If you really can’t live with wax in your ears, here’s a simple cleaning method: First, you should lie down on one of your sides. After, grab a bottle of hydrogen peroxide (usually around 15 dollars) and squeeze 2 or 3 drops into your ear. You might experience popping and fizzing noises, but that’s completely normal. After 10 minutes, feel free to tilt your head into the bathroom sink to allow the rest of the solution to come out of your ear. You’ll notice some wax coming out as well, which means it worked.

5. Olive oil

If you prefer homemade remedies and hacks, then feel free to use some drops of olive oil to clean your ears. The process is the same as the hydrogen peroxide one. The only difference is in its texture. Olive oil ends up softening the ear wax inside your ear, so it ends up disappearing bit by bit. Even though this procedure isn’t harmful to your ears, we recommend you do this only once a week or twice if you produce a lot of ear wax.

6. Earwax drops

If DIY is not really for you and you prefer not to place food ingredients in your ear, then go to the pharmacy and get a specific earwax bottle, like the Debrox Earwax Removal Drops, for example. It costs around 6 dollars, and it does the same thing as olive oil does; it’s still an effective way to clean ear wax, and it’s a way better option than using cotton buds. Plus, you won’t have to deal with olive oil’s overwhelming smell, how great is that?

7. Go to the doctor

If you produce a heavy amount of ear wax, removing it is more necessary than a choice. If you relate to this, then you should always visit your audiologist or a family doctor. They can safely remove the excess wax themselves, and you won’t even notice it. If this is a condition that you’re probably going to have to make a couple of trips to the doctor’s office every other week, but fortunately, it is not a painful process, so don’t worry about it!

8. Safe tip: Do not try the ear candling hack

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably noticed some videos surfacing around the internet of people removing ear wax with candles. Know that this process is extremely dangerous since it can cause severe damage to the ear canal and other ear problems. It’s also not proven to be effective or as effective as other options on this list. So if you care about your health, do not try this method! To prevent ear infection and other severe problems, don’t ever stick anything into your ear; a finger, cotton swab, or even paper are hazardous items. Instead, rely on eardrops or shower daily.

For those who can’t live without cotton buds, know that there’s a replacement. For the price of 45 dollars, you can purchase the Clear Ear Oto-Tip. Also known as the q-tip of the future, the BioDesign program of Stanford University developed this specific item. Instead of pushing the wax inside your ear, this q-tip rotates inside your ear. So instead of pushing wax, it releases it. Besides this, it also comes with a safety cap to prevent eardrum ruptures.