Cotton buds have long been used as the go-to tool to clean out blocked and waxy ears, but these small plastic swabs have since been banned in the UK. Single-use plastic buds are not only bad for the environment, but they can also do more harm than good when used to remove dirt and debris from your ear canal – so what should you use instead? These are the three best remedies to use for a gentle deep clean.
Why should you avoid using cotton buds to clean your ears?
Earwax is a naturally occurring substance which acts as a self-cleaning agent in the ears.
This thick wax collects dirt and bacteria over time and can work its way out of the ear through everyday movements like chewing and yawning.
While earwax doesn’t have to be removed to keep ears healthy, many people prefer to scoop it out themselves using a cotton bud, in order to relieve any blockages and improve their hearing.
However, these small plastic Q-tips can often have the opposite effect and end up pushing the wax deeper into the ear canal, which is why it is important to use other, less intrusive remedies.
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How to clean your ears without cotton buds
Removing earwax at home can be done using many gentle solutions including warm water and oil, but how exactly should you use them to effectively clean out your ears?
Use a damp cloth
Cleaning your ears doesn’t always have to be intrusive, in fact, placing a small damp cloth on the outside of your ear is often enough to dislodge unwanted earwax.
Soak a clean flannel or cloth in hot water and place it over your ear while laying on your side.
Allow the heat of the flannel to loosen up the earwax before gently wiping the outside of your ear with the flannel once it has cooled down.
Use a saline solution
According to the medically accredited website Healthline, irrigating your ears is another effective way to rinse out the canal and remove wax.
Simply fill the syringe with the saline liquid and flush it through one ear with your head titled.
The liquid should come out of your ear while removing any loose dirt and debris inside.
Healthline said: “This method is often more effective if you first use some type of wax softener 15 to 30 minutes before irrigating.
“It’s best to warm the solution to your body temperature to avoid dizziness.”
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This is one of the most natural home remedies available for cleaning ears, and it works a treat too.
If you experience blocked ears, simply drop two or three small drops of olive oil into your ear twice a day for around three to four days.
You should always tilt your head while applying the oil to allow it to flush through the ear canal properly.
The oil will loosen your earwax and help it to ease out of the ear canal itself, with no invasive cotton buds required.
You may notice small clumps of earwax on your pillow over the next few days as the earwax leaves your ear.
What not to use to clean out your ears
Gentle remedies are the best way to protect your delicate ears while keeping them clean, so there’s really no need to reach for tools which can poke or prod visible earwax.
While the syringe irrigation method is effective, you should avoid other intrusive tools such as ear candles, tweezers, needles and of course, cotton buds.
The advice from most doctors is to never put anything smaller than your elbow inside of your ear, as this could potentially injure your eardrum and permanently damage your eardrum.
If you are dealing with a severe build-up of earwax which is affecting your day-to-day life, you should always visit your GP to seek medical advice.