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How to clean your ears (and what tools to use)

Advice from an ear, nose and throat specialist on how to clean your ears at home, what tools to use and what to watch out for.


An overwhelming number of products and techniques promise relief from inner-ear itching or discomfort. To help make sense of the ecosystem designed around our aural organ, I reached out to otolaryngologist (that's ear, nose and throat specialist) Dr. Stacey Silvers for guidance.

"Because wax consistency for everybody is different, and the scenario that causes that individual to have wax buildup is also different, not every mode of treatment is going to work for everybody," said Silvers.

The most common injury she sees from ear cleaning is cuts inside the ear. They can clog the ear canal with blood and scabs, creating an entirely new obstruction. She warned that people living with diabetes, anyone on blood thinners, and older people should avoid using home ear cleaning kits, because those folks may have more difficulty healing from inner ear cuts.

To hear Silvers' thoughts on everything from Q-tips to ear candles to "smart" ear cleaning kits, check out the video on CNET's How To Do It All channel (embedded below). None of these home remedies should be considered a substitute for a visit to the doctor. Proceed with caution and at your own risk.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.