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Why You Should Not Clean Your Ears with Ear Bud?

April 29th, 2011 · 1 Comment ·


Months ago, I put a pen cover into ear canal to “clean” my ear and my aunt was shocked and jumped, “What are you doing?”  Then, I went to take ear bud or the so called Q Tip cotton swab, but again, she did not agree that should be the way to clean my ears.  “So how?” I asked her.  She then explained to me and here we go for this post, we will look at how our ears function when comes to cleaning, why we should not use ear bud and how can we clean our ears properly.

How Your Ears Function When Comes To Cleaning?
Your inner ears produce waxy substance supported by tiny hairs.  This waxy substance or also known as sebum is sticky. It is meant to protect the eardrum from outside contaminant.  Say, when water gets into your ear canal while swimming or showering, ear wax cause the water to bead up and move away from ear drum.  Ear wax itself is actually not a dirt.  It protects your ear, just like your car wax protects your car.  It traps hair, dust and dirt.

In normal circumstance, ear is actually a self cleaning organ.  Ear wax does not have to be removed manually. Most people, including me, “clean” the ears just because we enjoy the sensation of doing that.  Old earwax and dirt is extruded by itself.  It is transported to ear opening and drops out of the ear.

Why You Should Not Use Ear Bud Or Other Objects?
Q Tip has a small wad of cotton wrapped around at the end of a small rod which is made or plastic or wood.  The inventor used it to dip into substance before applying to other surface.  Later, people have since creatively stuck it into ear canal hoping to “dig out” the ear wax and that is how the name “ear bud” or “ear plungers” came by.  Some people call it cotton wool buds.


Believe it not, few fatal cases have taken place with the use of Q Ti.  These victims have pierced their ear drums.  Some countries like Canada is even considering to force all manufacturers to have a clear label that warns consumers not to insert the swab into their ear canal.

When you use ear buds, it tends to push the wax further into the ear.  Worse, this wax accumulate more and more deep inside your ear.  They will absorb more water whenever water enters the ear and then swell, causing discomfort and hearing problems.  Also, if the cotton is loosely attached, the cotton swab may get stuck and remain inside your ear.


How Should You Clean Your Ears?
First of all, do not do what I did – inserting a pen cover, pin end, matchstick, toothpick, car key or even long finger nails to clean the wax.  As mentioned, ear is actually a self cleaning organ and in most cases, you do not have to do anything.

  • If you want to clean your outer ear, do it with a soapy cloth and gently scrub the perimeter.  Then clean it with a cloth soaked in clean water.  Alternatively, Q-tip can be used, but on the external part of the ear.  In fact, you can use your smallest finger tip to do that while taking bath.
  • As for the inner ear, if you have narrow ear canal and tend to accumulate ear wax than normal people, you may need a special cleanser.  This liquid is designed to soften the hardened wax.  Put few drops to the inner ear while you are lying flat with the affected ear pointed upwards.  After few minutes, you can then sit up and allow the cleanser to flow out of the ear canal.  Some of these ear cleaning systems come with separate syringe to apply clean water after that.  If you are not sure how to do that, your should seek medical assistance.


  • If water enters your ears while you take shower or swimming, you can use a blow dryer near your ears to remove the moisture. Unless you are exposed to water most of the times, otherwise, most moisture in the ear will go away.  Otherwise, the moisture will lead to fungal infection.

In short, do not poke a cotton swab into your ear trying to clean them.  Your ears can take good care of themselves.



Category: Other Fitness/Sports Articles

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1 response so far ↓
  • Abigail // Feb 8, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    I don’t use Q-tips anymore. I got some of the cotton stuck in my ear, and left it there. I didn’t think anything about it. But turns out, I almost lost all of the hearing in my left ear. I’ve permanently lost most of my hearing, and I’m only 17.

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