0345 270 1600

Excessive build-up of ear wax is a relatively common issue that many people struggle with at some point in their lives. Doctors refer to this condition as ‘cerumen impaction’.

Although having impacted ear wax is a relatively benign condition, it is best addressed by a doctor or our professional ear wax removal service. However, in mild cases of wax build up there are steps that can be taken at home to help address the problem.

Boots Hearingcare takes a look at some of the ins and outs of cleaning your ears at home, giving you a clear picture and showing how to be safe as well as successful with the whole process…

What is the function of earwax?

Before diving deeper into the topic of safely removing excessive earwax, it is important to understand what earwax is. Earwax, also called cerumen, is more useful than you may think. It's natural and completely healthy for your body to produce it so that it can perform various essential functions. This sticky, waxy substance gets little credit for all the good it does.
For instance, it traps tiny particles of dirt, dead skin cells, dust, and filters them out and away from the eardrum and the middle ear. This protective function is called a self-cleaning mechanism. Earwax also lubricates your ear canals, preventing them from becoming dry and itchy.

What are the symptoms of an ear blocked with wax?

If you’ve ever suffered from wax build-up, you understand how miserable it can make you feel. Depending on the severity of your condition, day-to-day life may prove incredibly frustrating, with even the most basic tasks an ordeal.

The most common symptoms of an ear blockage include: If you have any or all of these problems and believe that they are affecting your everyday routine and general wellbeing, be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How to clean your ears at home

Excess ear wax is not uncommon. If your ear canal is completely blocked, you should not attempt to get rid of ear wax on your own. In this situation, we advise that you consult a hearing professional, your GP, or an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT).

However, in mild cases you may be able to remove the blockage yourself. Follow our instructions for quick, easy, and above all, safe relief from ear wax build-up:


Step 1: Run warm water or saline solution into your ear canal (you can use an ear irrigation kit for that). After a few minutes, the lukewarm water will soften the earwax, so that it can drain through the outer ear. One simple way to do this is by letting a little warm water dribble into the ear canal while showering.

This suggestion is to be followed only if you’re 100% sure you have no infections or perforations in your eardrum.

Step 2: Dab the ear opening and the liquid very gently with a clean cloth. Be careful when using warm water. The water temperature should never be hot, only lukewarm.

Something to remember: You can help old ear wax move out of the ear canal by chewing and moving your jaw. Once the ear wax makes its way to the ear opening, it will often dry up and fall out. You can also wipe it off with a cloth or cotton ball.

If you have very narrow ear canals or excessively large amounts of ear wax, visiting a wax-trained hearing professional or your GP may be best. A specialist can safely remove ear wax blockages so your hearing will not be affected. Don’t disregard the signs of a blockage and allow ear wax to accumulate in your ear canal. This could lead to hearing loss in the long run.

If possible, always seek help from a doctor and have a professional perform the removal procedure. Your ear structures are incredibly delicate, and excess wax can damage your eardrums. Even if there’s no rupture, we recommend visiting an ENT, as in some instances medical intervention may be necessary. Those who wear hearing aids or swim regularly should also keep a close eye on their ears to prevent infection.
Ear wax removal by Boots
Book an appointment
1
Select your store and book online to make an appointment
2
On the day, we’ll use the latest technology to remove wax and debris quickly and easily
3
Within 30mins you’ll be wax free with before and after pictures to show the difference

What not to do when cleaning your ears

When it comes to cleaning your ears at home, there are quite a few misconceptions floating around. Not all methods are safe or reliable solutions for getting rid of ear wax yourself.

Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to minimise the risks, such as:
Refrain from using cotton buds altogether:

Imagine a narrow pipe that you want to free from dirt with a long stick. Now imagine that the stick you’re using is only marginally narrower but much shorter than the pipe itself. Can you see why this isn’t an effective strategy? The same way, when you stick a cotton swab into your ear canal, you’ll end up pushing the blockage further down. Not only may you entirely plug the exit, but you also risk injuring the eardrum. Another possible complication is when the wax hardens right at the eardrum site, which may lead to drastic hearing loss.

Although many people use cotton buds for ear cleaning, that does not make ear swabs safe. It’s never a good idea to stick any objects into your ear canal. Be extra cautious, especially if you’ve had ear surgery in the past, have a ruptured eardrum, or you have ear pain or drainage.
Ear candling

Ear candling is another popular method of DIY ear cleaning. While many tout its effectiveness, we do not recommend it.

Ear candling - a technique that involves placing a lit, hollow, cone-shaped candle into the ear canal - can cause serious injury. Including permanent harm to the ear canal. Unfortunately, there’s a real trend for Hopi ear candling now, so don’t be tempted to jump on the bandwagon and risk irreparably damaging your ears.

Taking sensible precautions when cleaning your ears will help make the process safer, easier and more effective.

Wax Softeners and Prevention

 
Earol Olive Oil Spray
Odinell spray 50ml

Earol Olive Oil Spray 10ml

Odinell Spray 50ml

Use once a week to moisturise the ear canal and soften wax Designed to combat wax build-up, contains camomile to soothe and reduce irritation

Shop our full range
 

Summary

In summary, here are the general guidelines to make ear cleaning as safe and effective as possible:
  1. Whenever possible, ask a hearing professional or your GP to remove the wax for you.
  2. Irrigate your ear canal with warm (not hot) water.
  3. Gently cleanse the outer edges of your ear opening with a damp cloth.
  4. Be sure not to insert any ear swab into the ear canal.

Ears clean but still feeling blocked?

Check your hearing in only 15 minutes with a free hearing test at one of our Boots stores near you, or book an appointment with our professional ear wax removal service.

Look to Boots Hearingcare for proven advice on cleaning your ears at home or instore if symptoms become more severe.

Find a Boots Hearingcare store near you
We use cookies to provide you with the best experience on our site, to show you personalised content and ads. If you continue browsing with us we'll assume that you're happy to receive cookies. Find out more about cookies.