Cotton Swabs & Your Ears

For year’s people believed that if your ears were dirty, then it was a result of poor hygiene. On top of that, with compounded dirt, dust, and grime our ears produce what is commonly known as earwax. So if using cotton swabs to clean your ears is not recommended, how should we go about this crucial element of hygiene?

After recent research via the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, the best treatment for earwax is a very simple process. To maintain healthy ears, including the inner ear, one should do absolutely nothing. The site of poorly kept ears is not a pleasant site to see, but research shows that using cotton swabs to clean your ears actually has the potential to cause damage of which most are unaware. Using cotton swabs gives the appearance of proper hygiene, but on the other hand, damage to the inner ear is probable.


According to this research, the human body has certain processes that allow for the body to heal and clean itself in specific circumstances. The ears will naturally expel earwax from the inner ear, causing it to collect in the outer lobes of the ear. This is what most people see when they visually inspect a person’s ear. Cleaning the outer ear with a cotton swab is acceptable.

Cleaning the inner ear with cotton swabs, however, is highly discouraged because in most circumstances earwax is pushed back into the far reaches of the inner ear, causing damage to the eardrum.

Ensuring that your ears are properly cleaned is the best method to ensure healthy ears. If wax buildup persists, then one should consult an ENT specialist to eliminate the possibility of infection, and ask about medicated eardrops that allow for the break down of the earwax inside of the inner ear without harming the ear.