Most of us get rid of our earwax using cotton swabs. However, this could end up hurting your ears rather than helping them. When you put a cotton swab in your ear, you might accidentally push the wax towards the inner canal of your ear, causing a buildup of cerumen or other ear problems.
So, what other solutions are there for cleaning your ears then? Fortunately, there is a wide variety of choices right inside your home that you probably didn’t even realize existed! Read on to learn more about some affordable remedies for earwax buildup.
Symptoms of Earwax Buildup
How do you know if you have excessive earwax building up in your ear? The following are the most common signs as listed by Healthline.com:
- Temporary partial hearing loss
- Ringing or buzzing in the ear, also called “tinnitus”
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
- Aching of the ear
Please note that you should consult with your doctor if these signs do not subside after you apply the remedies because hearing loss, dizziness, and earaches can also be caused by other health issues.
Do-It-Yourself remedies are cost-effective. With little money (or nothing at all), you can easily whip up solutions using ingredients that are available at home. Of course, you can only save money if you apply the home remedies properly. Otherwise, you might cause further damage to your ear and then have to spend more money trying to fix the damage.
Remedy Number 1: Salt Water
Symptoms of wax buildup in the ear usually start to surface when the wax hardens. You can use saline water to help soften the accumulated cerumen, making it easier to get rid of the earwax.
- The steps for using salt water as a home remedy are as follows:
- Dissolve one teaspoon of salt into a ½ cup of warm water.
- Soak a cotton ball in the solution.
- Tilt your ear upward and then apply a few drops of the solution into the affected ear by squeezing fluid out from the cotton ball.
- Let the solution sit inside the ear for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Tilt your head in the opposite direction to drain the solution from your ear.
- Remove the softened wax by cleaning the outer part of your ear with a soft cloth.
You can perform this method as long as you have salt and warm water. Just make sure that the salt is completely dissolved before you put saline drops into your ear.
Remedy Number 2: Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol
Vinegar and alcohol is an unlikely pair, except if you’re using it to remove excess earwax. This age-old remedy can accomplish several things, including:
- Softening and breaking apart the wax.
- Killing off germs.
- Quickly evaporating all the trapped water in the ear.
The following are the steps in using this unusual combination as a remedy for wax buildup:
- Prepare a solution by mixing an equal amount of vinegar and alcohol in a bowl (or mug).
- Tilt the affected ear upward. Place 2 to 3 drops of the solution into the affected ear. You can use either a cotton ball or an eyedropper to place the fluid in there.
- Let the solution sit inside the ear for 5 minutes.
- Tilt your head toward the opposite direction to expel the fluid from your ear.
- Remove the remaining wax with a cotton bud or soft cloth. Remember to only clean the outer ear in order to avoid ear damage.
Aside from earwax removal, you can also use this remedy to treat the symptoms of “swimmer’s ear.”
Remedy Number 3: Baby Oil
Another affordable option is to use baby oil. This substance can effectively soften your earwax. Additionally, it will aid in removing the wax thanks to its lubricating properties.
The following are the steps on how to soften hardened earwax by using baby oil:
- Tilt the affected ear upward. Put a few drops of baby oil into the affected ear by using an eyedropper.
- Prevent the oil from seeping out of your ear by placing a cotton ball in the opening of it.
- Let the oil sit inside your ear for 5 minutes.
- Remove the cotton ball. Tilt your head toward the opposite direction so you can drain the baby oil out of the ear.
- Wipe the outer surface of your ear to remove any remaining oil or wax.
You can also use mineral oil as a remedy for excessive earwax.
Remedy Number 4: Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide may sound a bit frightening but it is actually an effective earwax softener. This substance has an effervescent quality, making the wax easier to break down and bring closer to the opening of the ear.
You should strictly follow the instructions regarding the use of hydrogen peroxide. Otherwise, you might suffer detrimental effects from improperly using it. The steps are as follows:
- Mix 3% hydrogen peroxide and distilled water in equal parts into a bowl.
- Tilt your affected ear upward. Place a few drops of the mixed solution into the affected ear by using an eyedropper.
- Let the solution sit there for 3 minutes before draining it.
- Wipe off the remaining wax from the outer surface of your ear with a clean cloth.
Remedy Number 5: Warm Water
Although it’s the simplest remedy on this list, the use of warm water is one of the most effective methods to remove earwax. You just have to flush your ear with warm water to break up the wax buildup.
The following are the steps on how to flush away earwax using warm water:
- Heat fresh, filtered water until it reaches body temperature.
- Fill a rubber-bulb syringe with the warm water and gently squirt a small amount in your ear.
- Let the water sit inside your ear for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the fluid afterward.
- Repeat the procedure until no wax remains in your ear.
- Wipe off the outer surface to get rid of any debris.
What to Remember
Cost-effective as they may, home remedies might cause you to spend more if you don’t do it properly. Here are some points to consider before you remove excessive earwax yourself:
- Use only liquids that are between room temperature and body temperature. Water that is too hot or too cold may cause discomfort and irritation.
- Don’t pour any liquid into your ear if your eardrum is perforated.
- Always be gentle when spraying or squirting liquid into your ear. Doing it with force may damage your eardrum and may cause moisture to become trapped in there.
- Avoid using any pointed object when cleaning your ear, as it may lead to an ear infection.
- Avoid using a candle earwax remover. This method may burn the inside surface of your ear which may lead to more serious issues.
- Avoid cleaning your ears too often or too hard.
Note that you can’t use the above home remedies all the time. For instance, if symptoms like drainage from the ear, pain, and hearing loss persist even after your DIY treatment, it is advisable to consult an Otolaryngologist or ENT.
Preventing Earwax Buildup
Before you experience earwax blockage, you can do something to prevent the accumulation of cerumen in your ear. Here are some preventive measures that you should remember:
- Keep your ear moist by running water into it during every bath you take. Constant irrigation prevents wax buildup.
- Don’t stick anything into your ear. Things like cotton swabs push your earwax deeper, causing a blockage in there.
- Limit your consumption of dairy products. Instead, eat foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids. This kind of diet will help alleviate earwax blockage.
Not a Home Remedy: Earwax Extraction by Experts
The above remedies all make use of usual household items that cost less to nothing. However, others may not feel secure in treating earwax buildup on their own. If you’re one of those people, know that there are experts out there who can clean your ears for you. Of course, professional cleaning comes with a cost.
An earwax extraction without insurance averages around $50 to $200, according to Cost Freak. The exact price depends on how much your clinic charges. In other cases, some clinics may charge you more than $200. To save money, look for another clinic. Chances are that other centers offer the same service but at a cheaper price.
No matter how you want to remove your earwax, always remember that your ears are overly sensitive. And with that, you should take extra care when cleaning your hearing organ.