Remove Earwax: Clean Ears Properly

Remove Earwax: Clean Ears Properly

Earwax is a natural part of the outer ear and protects against infection. It is a secretion secreted by the earwax glands in the external auditory canal. Depending on how long the earwax has been in the ear canal, it can vary in colour, consistency and amount. But a person’s state of health can also be reflected in their earwax. Most often, it bothers those affected when too much earwax forms and this is visibly deposited in the ear. Here, you can find out how earwax is overproduced and what remedies help clean your ears properly.

How is earwax formed, and what is its function?

Earwax (cerumen) forms exclusively in the ears and fulfils important tasks there:

  • Protection against dehydration:  The ear is kept moist by the secretion and cannot dry out. This protects the hearing organ from inflammation.
  • Protection against environmental influences: The earwax protects against environmental influences such as wind and cold.
  • Defence against fungi and bacteria: The earwax also contains immune system enzymes that fight off bacteria and fungi so they cannot penetrate the ear further.
  • Repelling Insects:  Many people find that earwax stinks. However, its rather unpleasant odour serves a purpose: it discourages insects from crawling into the ear canal and causing discomfort.

Thus, the production and secretion of earwax offer a protective shield against the outside world and simultaneously serve to clean the ear from the inside.

The earwax is transported outwards from the ear canal via tiny ear hairs and jaw-chewing movements. In addition to the components of the immune system, it also contains dust particles, dead skin cells, and tiny hairs. The excess earwax ends up in the auricle and can be easily removed.


Remove earwax without tools.

The ear itself performs a cleaning mechanism by producing earwax, with the secretion ultimately ending up in the pinna. From there, the earwax can then be removed. You can do this in the shower with a damp cloth and gently dry the auricle.

Theoretically, these measures are sufficient to remove the excess secretion. However, if this method is insufficient and there are problems with too much earwax, various tools are available to remove it.

How else can you remove earwax yourself?

In addition to cleaning the auricles with a damp cloth, other methods can gently remove earwax.


rinse ears

One way to gently clean your ears is by rinsing them. For this purpose, so-called ear syringes can be obtained in pharmacies and are filled with a rinsing liquid. This rinsing liquid can also be purchased in the pharmacy – either separately or in combination with the ear syringe. The rinsing liquid is a unique ear-cleaning agent that consists of ethanol and distilled water, among other things.

During use, the head should be tilted to the side so the rinsing liquid can flow out again without obstacles. The syringe or a filled balloon is pressed, and the ear is rinsed with the liquid. It should be ensured that the rinsing liquid is at body temperature and not too hot or cold; otherwise, temperature fluctuations can lead to short-term imbalances.

Balance disorders are triggered by cold or warm stimuli in the ear because they stimulate the balance organ. This briefly produces dizziness and involuntary eye tremors. Intense irritation can even cause vomiting and nausea.

If the earwax is stuck, the ear can be rinsed several times. However, it would help if you did not try to use force to remove the earwax, as this can lead to injuries.


In pharmacies, there is also the possibility of buying ear cleaners with an attachment in the form of a spiral . This is carefully inserted into the ear and twisted so that the earwax gets caught in it and can be pulled out.

Ear drops or sprays

Another option is to use special ear drops or ear sprays that are popular with children. Babies and children, in particular, tend to produce more earwax, which often clogs their ears. The drops or sprays can soften the secretion in the ear so that it is transported to the outside and may even fall out of the ear by itself.

Depending on the product, a few sprays or drops are put into the ear and left in the ear for about ten minutes. To keep the drops in the ear canal for this time, the ear can be closed loosely from the outside with a cotton swab. After exposure, the ear can be rinsed with lukewarm water.

Other ways to loosen stuck earwax are hot steam baths or sauna visits, which are also enriched with essential oils.


Home remedies to remove earwax

Some home remedies are also excellent ways to loosen hardened earwax and remove it yourself.

Suitable remedies for earwax are oils with fat-dissolving properties, such as almond, walnut or olive oil. The effects of the oil can be enhanced by adding a little lemon juice if needed. The oil should also be slightly warmed up. Then, you can drip a few drops into the ear using a syringe, pipette or even a spoon. You can then leave the desired product on overnight. The next day, you should rinse your ear.

Better not: Use ear candles or cotton swabs

The use of cotton swabs in the ear canal is discouraged (also by the manufacturers themselves). These are only intended for cleaning the auricle. Unfortunately, this recommendation is often disregarded, so using cotton swabs in the ear canal results in earwax being pushed back and compressed. This can cause a plug inside the ear and block the ear canal before the eardrum. Cotton swabs are one of the most common causes of a clot.

Ear candles are a well-known application that experts also advise against. Ear candles are thin and oblong in shape, so you can position them in your ear and then light the candle at the outer end. A negative pressure is created, which should lead to the earwax being transported to the outside. In practice, however, burns can occur in the area of ​​​​the ear or face. There is also the possibility that candle wax flows into the ear up to the eardrum and causes injury there. The effect of ear candles has not yet been proven, so the possible complications outweigh the benefits.

Altered earwax – these are possible causes.

When freshly formed, earwax is yellowish and has a thick, dense consistency. After a long time in the ear, the earwax loses liquid and becomes darker and more complex. The reason for the dark earwax is the fats that are contained in the earwax and that react with oxygen. The longer the dwell time in the ear, the darker the shade. Black earwax can also appear.

Red earwax can also be caused by the secretion staying in the ear for a long time. Another possible cause is minor injuries inside the ear, causing blood to pool and be carried away with the lard. However, bloody earwax should regulate itself and heal after a few weeks.

Brown earwax is also possible and usually harmless. With increased sweat secretion or in stressful phases of life, the glands produce more, which is a little darker.

So, discoloured earwax is nothing to worry about. However, medical advice should be sought if other symptoms occur in addition to earwax discolouration, such as itching or ear pain. Then, there could be an infection. 

In addition to the colour, the consistency of the earwax can also be changed. As we age, reduced earwax production and dry skin in the ear canal can cause the earwax to become drier and harder overall. This also makes it easier for the ear canal to become clogged.

If the earwax smells different than usual, this can also indicate a disease, such as a middle ear infection.


Complaints about too much earwax

Overproduction of earwax can be caused by stress in everyday life, as the glands responsible for production are stimulated during stress. In many cases, however, the overproduction is due to the individual’s disposition and, therefore, has no disease value. However, too much earwax or reduced drainage can lead to a blockage of the external auditory canal.

Improper cleaning of the ear and frequent wearing of in-ear headphones, earplugs or hearing aids can also promote the development of a plug. If this earwax plug in the ear then comes into contact with water, it can swell and block the ear canal. The earwax clogs the ear to a certain extent. A blockage of the auditory canal leads to a so-called sound transmission disorder, accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling of pressure and hearing loss. Possible accompanying symptoms are tinnitus, dizziness or itching.

When is a doctor’s visit helpful?

If the earwax has changed, for example, if it has gotten a different colour or is significantly more than usual, this is not a cause for concern. However, if you also experience ear pain or discharge of a liquid secretion such as pus or blood, you should consult your family doctor or ear, nose and throat doctor. There could be an infection with discharge of pus or a damaged eardrum. Here, you should avoid trying your therapy and seek medical treatment.

If too much earwax has accumulated and your ear is blocked, a tick can free the ear from the annoying plug during a doctor’s appointment. The ear is then rinsed thoroughly. The ear cleaning could tickle a bit, but it is not painful. The statutory health insurance companies usually cover the costs of the treatment.

The final answer to the question of how best to get earwax out of the ear is that you should trust in the self-cleaning of the organ and only remove excess earwax when it has reached the auricle.

If you suffer from an overproduction of the secretion, various removers can be used in self-treatment. However, it is worth seeking medical advice if the ear is blocked, hearing is limited, or other noticeable symptoms occur.

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