As practicing audiologists, we are frequently asked about the best methods for cleaning ears. Maintaining proper ear hygiene is the most basic practice for optimal ear health and hearing function. While it’s natural to feel the need to clean your ears, it’s important to approach this task with caution to avoid any potential harm. 

In this blog post, we will provide you with valuable insights and recommendations based on our expertise, focusing on the safest and most effective ways to clean your ears. 

By following these guidelines, you can ensure the well-being of your ears and promote long-term auditory health.

The Logic Behind Earwax 

Earwax is a natural substance produced by glands in the ear canal. While it may seem like something that needs to be removed from the ears on a regular basis, earwax actually plays an important role in maintaining ear health. 

Understanding the logic behind earwax involves recognizing both its pros and cons.


  • Protection: One of the main functions of earwax is to protect the ear, acting as a natural barrier to preventing dust, debris, and harmful particles from entering the ear canal. This protective layer of the earwax serves as a shield to reduce the risk of infections while keeping the ear canal moisturized.
  • Self-cleaning: Earwax has a self-cleaning mechanism attributed to the movement of the jaw during activities such as yawning, chewing or talking. This mechanism aids in naturally moving the earwax towards the outer ear. 


  • Earwax impaction: In some individuals, excessive earwax can easily accumulate and become impacted, leading to a blockage in the ear canal. This can lead to symptoms like earache, reduced hearing, dizziness, or a feeling of fullness or ringing in the ear. When this happens, a visit to an audiologist is recommended for proper assessment and treatment.
  • Cleaning risks: Improper attempts to clean the ears, such as using Q-tips or other sharp objects, can push the earwax deeper into the ear canal. This increases the risk of impaction or injury. When cleaning the ears, make sure to exercise caution and avoid aggressive cleaning methods that can damage the delicate structures of the ear. If in doubt, get professional ear cleaning by an experienced audiologist.

How do you remove earwax at home?

Certain basic at-home or DIY methods can help with mild cases of earwax buildup, but for severe earwax or sensitive conditions, seeking professional assistance from an audiologist is highly recommended. 

If you are attempting to remove earwax at home, below are some general guidelines to consider:

  • If you have been advised by an audiologist to remove earwax at home, you can start by softening the wax. Over-the-counter ear wax removal drops or mineral oil can be used to help loosen the wax and make it easier to remove.
  • Once the wax has softened, you may use gentle irrigation with warm water to help flush out the wax from the ear canal. You can use a bulb syringe or a specially designed ear irrigation kit while tilting your head to the side. Make sure that the water is not too hot and that the pressure is gentle to avoid causing any damage.
  • Alternatively, you can try using gravity to facilitate the removal of softened wax. Lie on your side with the affected ear facing down and place a basin or towel beneath your ear. Gently tug the outer ear upward and backward to straighten the ear canal, allowing any softened wax to drain out naturally.
  • Avoid using cotton swabs or other objects. These items are not helpful in any way and can end up pushing the wax deeper into the ear canal, potentially causing injury, further impaction, or damage to the eardrum.

Remember, seek professional help when needed. If you experience persistent symptoms,  severe pain, hearing loss, or if your attempts to remove the earwax at home are unsuccessful, please seek professional assistance from an audiologist. 

Audiologists have the expertise and appropriate tools to safely and effectively remove stubborn or impacted earwax.

Professional Ear Cleaning in Madison, Alabama

Understanding the logic behind earwax allows us to appreciate its protective and self-cleaning properties. While earwax is ideally produced to protect and lubricate the ears, too much earwax production has its disadvantages.

It is important to approach ear cleaning with care and seek professional assistance when needed. 

Alabama Hearing Associates provides professional ear cleaning and earwax removal services in Madison, Alabama, using special tools and equipment to ensure that your ears are safe and in mint condition.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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Dr. Jan Liles

Dr. Liles earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Montevallo and her master’s degree from the University of Alabama. From 1991 to 2001, she worked with two ENT medical practices and initiated one of the first newborn hearing screening programs in the state. In 2002, she was awarded a doctorate in audiology from the University of Florida. Dr. Liles and her longtime best friend, Dr. Sheehy, founded Alabama Hearing Associates in January 2002.