q tip being used to clean ear
Jade Small
Jade Small
May 31, 2024 ·  3 min read

Q-Tips Can Permanently Damage Your Ears, Use These 2 Effective Alternatives Instead

My ears are really sensitive, so earwax drives me crazy. It’s itchy and unpleasant and always makes me feel like my ears are greasy. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

So I do a bad thing, I clean them with Q-tips. There are a lot of problems with that, only I didn’t know what it was until my doctor accused me of doing something terrible to my ears.

Reasons Not to Use Q-Tips

  1. You should leave the wax in your ears because it waterproofs them. It’s also a natural antibiotic. It’s naturally acidic and it prevents infection in your ear. So removing earwax isn’t really necessary for most people.
  2. Using a Q-tip, means you’re probably touching your eardrum. The eardrum is very delicate, so you can puncture it with a Q-tip. You can also press on the delicate bones that help you hear, which can cause shockwaves through your ear and throw off your hearing and balance
  3. It also squashes the little hairs that help you hear better. Or you can pull them out of the hair follicle removing them entirely.
  4. Finally, you can actually end up pushing earwax farther into the ear canal, compacting it so that it becomes harder to move and harder for your body to get rid of.

Earwax Overproduction

Some people just produce more earwax than others. It can be unsightly and unpleasant to feel. In that case, there are ways to clean out your ears, but without using a Q-tip.

Particularly in older people, when the ceruminous glands shrink, caused by age, the earwax becomes dry. Dryness keeps the ear from cleaning itself well, so skin particles may accumulate as a consequence and result in greater amounts of wax in the ear

Removal Methods

There are two ways to remove earwax safely: using irrigation or oil.


To irrigate the ear, you must pour a constant stream of water into the ear, loosening and softening the wax. It is important not to irrigate too often (once every two or three months is plenty).

  1. Use warm (body temperature) water in a syringe.
  2. Tilt your head, so one ear is pointing up at the ceiling, pull the outside of the ear to straighten the ear canal. Flush with water. Tilt your head and let the water pour out. Repeat if necessary.
  3. Use a blow dryer on a cool setting to dry your ear canal.


Olive oil, almond oil, baby oil, mineral oil, sprays, or eardrops can also lubricate and loosen the earwax. The number of drops that should be used depends on the brand and a doctor’s recommendations.

With this method,

  1. Put a few drops in one ear.
  2. Tilt the head side to side for five minutes to let the drops settle.
  3. Let the oil flow out.
  4. Air dry or blow dry.

Remember: earwax is important, your body makes it for a reason.

Also important: Q-tips are not the way to remove earwax. You may have also heard about a method called “candling” but candling can really harm your inner ear.

If you find that you cannot remove earwax with either method, it’s important to head to a doctor, who can remove earwax buildup without damaging your eardrum.


  1. https://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/11/q-tips-ears-danger
  2. https://www.businessinsider.com/q-tips-danger-ear-health-2016-1

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.