How can I remove earwax?

Earwax is designed to come out naturally. After it traps foreign substances-it's main duty-earwax is pushed to the outer area of the canal, where it dries up and is supposed to tumble out of your ear.

Of course, this auto-eject system doesn't always work perfectly. However, don't be tempted to use a Q-Tip, fingernail, or fishhook to pull wax out of your ear. Bad idea! Anything you put in your ear acts as a ramrod and shoves the wax in deeper (not to mention that it risks puncturing your ear drum), which can hinder sound waves from making it to your main auditory processing center.

Instead, here's a much safer trick you can use to remove excess ear wax: Put a drop of mineral oil in your ear, then lie down on the side of your opposite ear to let the oil seep in. Lie there for about an hour, and the wax will get dissolved in the mineral oil. Just let the oil-wax mixture slide out onto a napkin or two as you turn the other side up.

YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...
Dr. David M. Vernick, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT Specialist)

The body regularly produces and removes earwax, but sometimes earwax accumulates faster than the body can get rid of it. The result can be hearing loss, a sensation of something plugging up the ear, or an earache. If you have a hole in your eardrum or if you've had ear surgery, see your doctor for assistance. Otherwise, you can unblock the wax yourself as follows.

You'll need a medicine dropper and one of the following substances: liquid docusate sodium, baby oil, mineral oil, a nonprescription earwax remover, or hydrogen peroxide. You can find these supplies at a local drug or grocery store. First, tilt your head with the ear you'll be working on pointing toward the ceiling. Then, use the dropper to fill your ear with one of the substances listed. Remain still, so that the liquid is in your ear for about five minutes. Once that time is up, drain your ear by tipping your head against a towel. You may find that you need to repeat this process once or twice a day for a few days to completely unblock your ear.

Never try to remove earwax by placing a device into your ear canal. This could make the problem worse. If the medicine dropper method isn't successful, see your doctor for assistance.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

There is a right way and a wrong way to remove earwax. Learn more about this topic in this video from Dr. Oz.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.