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3 Reasons Why Cotton Swabs Are Bad for Ear Cleaning

Cleaning your ears is a part of maintaining good hygiene, but the majority of us are using the wrong ways to clean them. Are you also one of those who always seem to have a pack of cotton swabs handy? Do you clean your ears with them, even though you know they’re not the best option? In this article, we’ll share three reasons why cotton swabs are bad for ear cleaning and how to get a better solution.

1. Cotton Swabs Cause Earwax Impaction

When you use a cotton swab, you essentially push most of your earwax deeper into the ear canal instead of getting it out. This will make the wax harden and build up inside the canal over time. Consequently, your ear may get blocked, and your hearing ability can get impaired. An excessive buildup of earwax will also cause unpleasant symptoms, like pain and discomfort.

If you are diagnosed with earwax impaction, consult a healthcare professional, and do not try to unclog it by yourself. They use special instruments and irrigating solutions to scoop out wax without damaging sensitive parts of the ear. 

2. Hearing Loss

The most delicate component of the hearing system is the eardrum – even the slightest pressure applied with a swab might tear it. Research shows that blunt trauma from cleaning ears is the most common cause of ruptured eardrums, causing 44% of the cases. 

While an eardrum puncture will eventually heal, it takes some time and may cause conductive hearing loss. Additionally, when you use a cotton swab, you might push against the side of your ear canal and cause internal bleeding or bruising.

3. Infection and Dryness

You might think that you should always remove earwax, but in reality, earwax is a crucial part of the hearing system, as it lubricates the ear and keeps bacteria out. Earwax traps dangerous bacteria that enter into ears, and using cotton tips will push bacteria deep into the ear, causing infections. You’ll also face dryness if you remove earwax excessively.

Earwax expels from the ear on its own. Jaw movements while eating and talking will cause the wax to move toward the outer ear from where you can remove it. You will need to clean your ears only when the wax becomes too hard and won’t come out on its own. In that case, you will likely experience discomfort, ringing, and a blocked feeling in your ears. Call HearCanada to set up an appointment and clean your ears safely. 

How to Safely Clean Your Ears

Instead of using cotton swabs or Q tips, follow these simple steps to clean your ears, but keep in mind to evaluate your ear health before cleaning them on your own.

  • Put a few drops of glycerin in your ear using a dropper
  • After a day or two, irrigate them by using a bulb syringe. Warm water should flow into your ear canal. To make the ear canal more vertical, tilt your head
  • To drain the ear after irrigating, tilt your head to the side. Dry the outer part by using a clean towel


Although ear cleaning is crucial, we frequently use the wrong techniques. People who use cotton swabs, especially those who use hearing devices, are prone to the hazards of Q-tips. We hope this article has helped you see that cotton swabs will cause you more damage than benefit. We encourage you to try other methods we have shared and take professional’s help to maintain your ear hygiene.



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