How To Properly Clean Your Ears & The RIGHT Tools To Use

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Whether it’s a once every few day swab or an every other week ritual, cleaning your ears is simply one of those processes that is often begrudged by men everywhere.

But not only is it so hated, it’s also incredibly misunderstood on what proper steps you need to take to clean your ears fully and properly – all without hurting yourself.

Your Ears Are Pretty Amazing

While we might knock earwax simply because it’s unsightly, it’s actually really critical to healthy hearing.

Earwax exists for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, earwax plays a pivotal role in ensuring that your entire ear canal stays well moisturized.  Therefore, over-cleaning may lead to irritation given that the oils naturally found in your ears never have a chance to moisturize the wall of your inner ear canal.

Secondly, earwax acts as a very important protective barrier for your ear canal.  Between your outer ear and your ear drum, your canal has both little hairs and earwax between the two.

If you live in an urban area or even the country for that matter, there are a lot of pollutants or pollen that will be naturally floating through the air.

As these pollutants make their way into your ear canal, many of them will get blocked by your ear hairs as the first line of defense.  But beyond the tiny hairs, these pollutants will get blocked by earwax.

Therefore, earwax is vital in keeping your ear drum well protected throughout the course of any given day.

But here’s where things go south:

As you encounter more dust, dirt, and general pollutants in the air, your earwax will naturally build up to an excessive amount.

This build up of earwax will slowly start creeping towards the opening of the ear canal.

While in a perfect world the earwax would simply just fall out, unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

As the earwax is making its way to the exit, it will typically attach onto the hairs of your ear causing clumping.

Here are a few key pointers when it comes to removing wax and most importantly, cleaning your ears properly:

Why The Lessons That You May Have Learned As A Kid Could Be Really Bad

The classic Q-Tip, found in medicine cabinets everywhere, are sorely misused in the bathroom.

When cleaning your ears regularly, many men often mistakenly use a Q-Tip and push it into their ear canal and attempt to dig out the earwax (cerumen).  Unfortunately, this is incredibly unsafe as it will likely lead to an impacted ear canal (i.e. all your wax is getting shoved up against your ear drum).

Severe cases of impaction can lead to reduced hearing, an achy ear, dizziness, and more.

Instead, Q-Tips should only be used on the outside area of your ear and never enter the ear canal.

But unfortunately the misnomer of cleaning your ears properly doesn’t end with the Q-Tip.

Other common methods of cleaning your ear including candling and small sharp objects can also be incredibly dangerous and may lead to long term damage – especially if you rupture your ear drum.

Here are some safe ways to remove earwax:

Before You Pick Up An Ear Cleaning Solution, Try These Methods First

Damp Washcloth

While this method doesn’t get the earwax nestled all the way in the ear canal, it is an effective way to fully clean your outer ear.

As we were covering earlier, much of the earwax that is exiting the ear canal will attach itself to the hairs on your ear, a simple warm damp washcloth will help to remove the clumps that may have been stuck to your ear hair.  This warm washcloth will ensure that the earwax softens so you don’t accidentally pull out any ear hairs (which trust me guys, is extremely painful).


One of the many ways that your body naturally discharges earwax is through the chewing motion.  When opening your mouth wide (go ahead do it right now), you will hear your ears popping.  Through this repeated motion you may be able to wiggle any sort of loose earwax out of your ear canal.

Tools and Treatments To Clean Your Ears The Right Way

The number of methods and tools available for earwax removal seems to be ever growing.  From extraction/picking, irrigation, to full cleaning systems – here is a list of the more popular products on the market to remove that pesky earwax buildup:

Ruimio Ear Picks

Ear pick sets such as this one from Ruimio are incredibly effective at fully removing earwax through physical means.  While irrigations can take a while to work or may yield poor results, a simple ear pick will undoubtedly remove wax.

However, as many men may assume, when using an ear pick, one must exercise extreme caution.  Inserting a pick to far into your ear canal may cause damage to your ear drum.

Therefore, you will always want to make sure you are in a calm environment before ever inserting a pick into your ear.

Sets like the Ruimio do have ear picks come in many different shapes allowing you to find one that fits you perfectly.  In addition to the picks, they also offer a Q-Tip shaped head that is perfect for massaging your ear canal should you be experiencing any irritation.

Given their stainless steel design coupled with a knurled handle, these tools should never rust nor slip when used in wet bathroom environment.

Ototek Loop Earwax Removal

Very similar in nature to a standard ear pick, this tool by Ototek is a great way to remove earwax using physical means.

However, if you are squeamish about sticking a stainless steel rod into your ear and worrying about puncturing your ear drum (don’t worry – so were we), this option by Ototek is definitely a great compromise.

As you can see in the picture, the guard loop plays a critical role in preventing the pick end from going too far into the canal.

While it might not be able to reach in and grab all the wax due to it’s safety design, you can at least rest assured that any wax that might be visible to others should be completely removed when using this pick.

The affordable price tag on this product makes it definitely well worth the investment – especially when it comes to effective and safe earwax removal.

Bionix VersaScoop

Got a loved one in your life that doesn’t mind seeing the uncanny parts of your body?

If that’s the case, then this lighted ear pick may be just what you need.  Equipped with both a light and a magnifying glass, this ear pick can clearly see into your ear canal and scoop out whatever gunk may be building up.

Don’t worry if you are a bit skeeved out by the idea of reusing a pick.  With the 25 replacement tips that come included in the box, you can change them out after every cleaning.


When it comes to selecting an irrigation system to soften and flush earwax, you will find many similar properties between the products in that they largely rely on either natural ingredients or some sort of peroxide solution.  Here are a few of the most popular earwax irrigation solutions that are used by men everywhere:

Herb Pharm Mullein/Garlic Herbal Ear Oil

Relying on a unique blend of Mullein, Canlendula, floral and herbal extracts, along with olive oil this solution will work to soften the wax buildup in your ear canal.

Whether you have tinnitus or simply earwax buildup, this should prove to be effective.  Just simply add a couple drops into your ear and let it rest for several minutes while it works to soften and provide relief.

While available through popular online retailers, you may be able to find this offering by Herb Pharm at your local natural food (i.e. Whole Foods) grocery store as well.

This is a great first step solution to loosening impacted earwax due to improper use of Q-Tips.  Unlike physical removal methods, don’t expect the wax to drop out of your ear in a few minutes.  It may take a few days for the wax to make its way to the exit.

Dr. Sheffield’s Earwax Removal Drops

While the above solution by Herb Pharm may rely on a blend of natural ingredients, this earwax irrigation treatment by Dr. Sheffield’s relies on Carbamide Peroxide 6.5%.

When dropped into your ear, the Carbamide Peroxide solution will foam up (akin to Hydrogen Peroxide) and will work to begin breaking down any earwax.  Like many irrigation methods, don’t expect results to be instantaneously, but do be sure to check your ears a few days after application to see if any dried remnants of wax have attached themselves to your ear hair when trying to escape the ear canal.

A great (and affordable) solution for men on a tight budget.

Debrox 0.5 ounce Earwax Removal Drops

Containing the same active ingredient as the Dr. Sheffield’s removal drops (Carbamide Peroxide 6.5%), these ear removal drops from Debrox is the #1 Doctor and Pharmacist recommended brand for removing earwax buildup.

But unlike Dr. Sheffield’s, Debrox brings it a bit further by including the bulb syringe with their kit.

The two products together (drops + syringe) will pack a 1-2 punch in fully clearing out the wax buildup in your ear canal.  The peroxide, when dropped into your ear, will cause a gentle foaming reaction that works to soften the wax in place while the bulb syringe will work to fully flush out any remnants of wax.

Be prepared to be grossed out by the removal of large amounts of wax when first using this product, but afterwards it will be well worth it once the earwax goes down the drain.

Cleaning Systems

Cleaning systems provide a great compromise between irrigation methods and physical removal.  These systems often rely on water pressure to fully flush out any and all wax buildup in your ear canal.  The specially treated water shouldn’t dry out your ears, leaving the ultimate in comfort long after the wax has been removed.

Audiologists Choice Earwax Removal System

A slightly more primitive ear cleaning system, you will find this offering from Audiologist’s Choice.

Included in this extremely affordable earwax removal system you will find a bulb syringe and earwax softener.  Using this cleaning kit is pretty simple – just add a few drops of their proprietary softener into your ear canal, let rest for a few minutes, and then get a small cup of water and load the bulb syringe.

With the full syringe of water, you will then want to squirt it into your ear canal flushing out the wax buildup.

Being that this kit doesn’t contain an ear basin to collect the fluids, you will want to either purchase one separately or simply lean over your sink.

Great and effective earwax removal system at a rock bottom price.

Bionix OtoClear Portable Ear Irrigation System

 With its 210ml reservoir coupled with a rechargeable battery this is the ultimate in convenience when it comes to cleaning out your ears fully.  While the price may be a bit hard to swallow for some men – the offerings are second to none.

Of all the ear cleaning systems mentioned in this article, this one does come with the most disposable tips (40).

Secondly, the two water pressure settings can be incredibly effective at removing the most stubborn of earwax buildup.

Overall this is a terrific system if you are looking to fully remove the wax from your ears and don’t mind paying the extra money doing so.

Editors note: We are not physicians, therefore please do not take this article as medical advice.  If you have questions about proper earwax removal please book an appointment with your doctor for further guidance.

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About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.