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Blockage of the outer ear canal as the result of an accumulation of ear wax is among the most common causes of short-term hearing loss. Clearly, if you have encountered this or suspect that an accumulation of ear wax may have caused some reduced hearing, you would like to clean your ears. Even so, you need to clean the ears correctly and safely, otherwise you could cause permanent injury to your ears.

For that reason, when presenting this write-up of tips, it’s wise to begin with a reminder of things not to do. Don’t use cotton swabs or any other foreign objects that you insert into your ears, which can cause the ear wax to compress further. On top of that, do not use any gadget that shoots a pressurized stream of water into your ears because this can perforate the ear drum. Also, if you know that you have a perforated eardrum or believe that you have an ear infection, don’t attempt to clean your ears on your own, and see a hearing specialist instead. Symptoms indicating a possible infection or punctured ear drum include vomiting or diarrhea, fluid draining from the ears, ear pain and fever.

For gentle and effective ear cleaning at home, all you need is a bulb or syringe (available at any pharmacy) and a special solution with which to rinse out the ears. Such rinse solutions (often called carbamide peroxide) can be obtained at drug stores; you can also create your own by mixing equal measures of glycerin, 3-4% and mineral oil.

To apply it, lay on your side over a towel or lean to one side over a basin or sink and carefully squeeze the carbamide peroxide solution into one ear, trying not to touch the interior of the ear with the syringe or bulb. The solution takes some time to work, so allow it to remain in each ear for a few minutes, and then do this again for the other ear.

Once the wax has been softened and loosened by the solution, wash each ear once again with lukewarm (not hot) water, and then dry the outer ears lightly with a soft towel. If the congestion persists, repeat this process of cleaning your ears twice daily for 2 or 3 days. If the problem continues any longer, call your an audiologist or hearing specialist.