As it turns out, cleaning your ears with Q-tips might not be the best habit. According to an expert, this can do more harm than good, as cotton swabs tend to push wax further into the ear canal.

So how do you keep your ears squeaky clean in the safest way possible? The general rule, according to a Harvard Health Letters article is to remove earwax only if it’s causing discomfort (such as difficulty hearing, ringing in the ears or coughing, which signals pressure on the eardrum) and to use a washcloth to sweep away excess wax. “As the earwax dries, it moves out of the canal naturally, taking debris with it. Although the wax feels dirty, it actually helps keep the ear clean,” said Howard LeWine, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

For those who can’t stomach the thought of wax buildup, more immediate solutions include hydrogen peroxide followed with alcohol to dry up the canal, baby oil or mineral oil--as long as you’re free of ear infections or perforated eardrums. Does this motivate you to trade in Q-tips for another ear-cleaning routine? If so, which one will you try? Tell us in the comments!



Harvard Health Letters: Safely Clear Earwax When Build-Up Causes Symptoms