How to Eliminate Excess Earwax Naturally

10 September, 2020
Some natural methods can help soften earwax and make it easier to remove and prevent it from clogging the ear canal. However, you should use them with caution. Let's take a look!

Earwax is a natural substance produced by the glands in the ear canal. Its purpose is to lubricate and protect the ear against foreign agents. Contrary to what many people believe, it’s not a waste product but your body’s way of defending itself against fungi, viruses, and bacteria.

The problem occurs when earwax is produced in excessive amounts and blocks the canal. This can cause discomforts such as ringing in your ears, partial hearing loss, and itching.

The fact that many people don’t know how to treat it properly is worrying, as many resort to objects such as hairpins, cotton swabs, and even fingers to try to clean the canal out. These appear to remove some built-up wax, but actually push most of it into the ear.

For this reason, it’s essential to know how to properly eliminate excess earwax and prevent possible complications. In this article, we’ll share the best recommendations and natural methods. Discover them below!

Why is it necessary to remove earwax?

As a publication in the National Center for Biotechnology Information explains, earwax production is a natural process in humans. Its function is to protect the area against infections, insects, or water. In addition, under normal conditions, this substance is removed from the ear canal through jaw movement.

However, when this self-cleaning mechanism fails, or there’s an excessive earwax production, earwax impaction can lead to discomfort in the ear, such as hearing loss, tinnitus, and itching, among others. This is why it’s important to remove excess earwax.

If you’re suffering from these symptoms, it’s important to go to a professional, as it requires proper management to avoid complications. The professional can resort to removal methods such as cerumenolytic agents, irrigation, and manual extraction.

Natural remedies to remove excess earwax

Natural remedies to remove earwax may be an option when there’s too much earwax but it still hasn’t caused any symptoms. That is, they can be applied when an accumulation of earwax can be noticed with the naked eye. However, you have to do it with caution, as a bad application increases the risk of damage to the eardrum.

In addition, you must bear in mind that these types of solutions lack scientific support and, for the most part, come from popular culture. Therefore, you should avoid them at all costs if there are signs of problems in the ear canal or an already-diagnosed disease.

1. Saline solution

A saline solution can help soften earwax to facilitate its removal. However, according to information from the Cleveland Clinic, you should avoid this remedy if you have or suspect a perforated eardrum. If you want to try it out, take note of the following:

Removing excess earwax is possible through natural remedies.
Saline solution is one of the most widely used folk remedies against excess wax. However, you should avoid it if you suspect an injury.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon of salt (5 g)
  • ½ cup of warm water (125 ml)
  • 1 cotton ball

Instructions

  • First of all, dissolve the salt in a half cup of water.
  • Soak a cotton ball in the liquid and use it to put a few drops into your ear.
  • Keep your head tilted to the side for three to five minutes to hold the water inside.
  • Now, tilt your head to the opposite side and let it drain out.
  • Lastly, clean the outside of the ear with a clean cloth to eliminate excess earwax.

Don’t forget to read: Recommendations to Treat an Ear Infection

2. Warm olive oil against excess earwax

A study published in Practice Nursing determined that regular lubrication with olive oil can increase the ear canal’s wax content. However, applying it shortly before a professional removes the wax can help remove it completely.

Although scientific evidence is quite limited, in popular culture, it has been accepted as a remedy to soften accumulated wax. It’s important to use it in moderation with the precautions we’ve already mentioned.

Ingredients

  • 3 drops of warm olive oil
  • 1 dropper

Instructions

  • Warm a little olive oil and apply two or three drops to the affected ear.
  • Then, wait for about ten minutes for the wax to soften.
  • Now, tilt your head to the side to let the oil and wax drain out.

3. Almond oil

As of right now, there is no evidence linking the use of almond oil with ear cleaning. However, some groups such as the National Health Service suggest this option when there is an excessive accumulation of wax. In particular, similar to olive oil, it seems to help soften the wax.

A small bottle of almond oil.
Almond oil appears to help soften earwax when it builds up in the ear.

Ingredients

  • 3 drops of almond oil
  • 1 dropper

Instructions

  • First of all, warm the almond oil and then fill the dropper with it.
  • Apply three drops into the blocked ear.
  • Keep your head tilted to the side to keep the oil inside the ear.
  • Wait for 10 to 15 minutes for the wax to completely soften.
  • After that time, put a tissue over the ear and turn your head to the side to let the oil drain out.
  • Lastly, clean any excess with a soft cloth.

4. Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a very popular remedy when it comes to removing accumulated earwax. The Mayo Clinic suggests it as a way to soften earwax and help remove it.

However, you should avoid it if there are signs of infection or other problems because if the discomfort isn’t only caused by the earwax, it could lead to complications.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide (5 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon of water (5 ml)
  • Dropper

Instructions

  • Combine equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water.
  • Fill a dropper with the solution and apply five drops to the affected ear.
  • Let work for 10 minutes with your head tilted to the side, then tilt the other way to let it drain out.
  • Remove any excess earwax from the outer ear with a clean cloth.

Want to know more? Read: Hydrogen Peroxide: 12 Reasons to Have It at Home

5. Baby oil to eliminate excess earwax

A small dropper bottle full of clear liquid.
Like other oils we’ve mentioned, this helps soften earwax and facilitate its removal.

In the same Mayo clinic publication we mentioned in the previous section, baby oil is another resource to soften accumulated wax. You should use it with the same recommendations, in small quantities.

Ingredients

  • 5 drops of baby oil
  • 1 dropper
  • 1 cotton ball

Instructions

  • Put the baby oil in a dropper and apply two to five drops in the affected ear.
  • Place a cotton ball in the ear to keep the oil from leaking out.
  • Let work for five minutes and then tilt your head to the side to let the oil drain out.
  • Clean the outer ear with a soft cloth.

Eliminate excess earwax: What should you remember?

Remember that you can only use these natural remedies when there are no signs of a serious ear problem. If you have a problem,  go see a professional before you try any cleaning method. In addition, you should avoid using paperclips, hair clips, cotton swabs, or other similar objects because they can cause problems.

  • Roland, P. S., Smith, T. L., Schwartz, S. R., Rosenfeld, R. M., Ballachanda, B., Earll, J. M., … Wetmore, S. (2008). Clinical practice guideline: Cerumen impaction. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery139(3 SUPPL.2). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.otohns.2008.06.026
  • Schwartz, S. R., Magit, A. E., Rosenfeld, R. M., Ballachanda, B. B., Hackell, J. M., Krouse, H. J., … Cunningham, E. R. (2017). Clinical Practice Guideline (Update) : Earwax (Cerumen Impaction) Executive Summary. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (United States)156(1), 14–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/0194599816678832
  • Loveman E, Gospodarevskaya E, Clegg A, et al. Ear wax removal interventions: a systematic review and economic evaluation. Br J Gen Pract. 2011;61(591):e680–e683. doi:10.3399/bjgp11X601497
  • Earwax build-up. (21 December 2017). National Health Service.  Recovered from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/earwax-build-up/