The Dangers of Cleaning Your Ears with Cotton Swabs

Despite the misconception that cleaning ears with cotton buds, tweezers, or straws can provide a satisfying feeling of cleanliness, doctors have warned that these tools are ineffective and can cause more harm than good. Here is an overview of the harmful effects of using cotton buds to clear earwax.


Many healthcare professionals advise against using cotton swabs, tweezers, or even straws to clean ears. These tools are ineffective and can actually cause harm, especially cotton swabs. While they may initially provide a satisfying and clean feeling, their use can lead to negative consequences. Below, we outline the harmful effects of using cotton swabs to clean ears.

The harmful effects of cleaning ears with cotton swabs

The Harmful Effects of Using Cotton Swabs to Clean Ears

1. Ear Pain

Contrary to belief, cotton swabs can cause damage to the middle ear and even puncture the eardrum. A study conducted between 1990 and 2010 on over 263,000 children found that approximately 73% of ear injuries related to cotton swabs were linked to ear hygiene. This is an alarming rate.

2. Pushing Earwax Deeper

Many individuals desire to remove excessive earwax buildup. However, using cotton swabs often only pushes the earwax further into the ear canal, preventing it from being extracted. In such cases, it is necessary to seek medical assistance to have the earwax safely removed.

3. Ear Inflammation

Earwax serves as a protective barrier, preventing bacteria from entering the ear canal. By using cotton swabs to push earwax and bacteria further into the ear, a pathway for bacterial growth is unintentionally created, resulting in ear inflammation.

Why is Earwax Important?

In addition to its role in preventing bacterial infections, earwax also acts as a shield against insects and dirt from the environment. It serves as a natural lubricant, preventing dryness and itchiness. Interestingly, earwax is naturally expelled from the outer ear canal during physical activities and can easily be rinsed away with a showerhead.

Safe method of removing earwax

Safe Methods for Removing Earwax at Home

One safe method is to use ear drops to soften the earwax, following the instructions provided. After two days, a syringe can be used to gently insert warm water into the ear, allowing it to drain out by tilting the head. Finally, the outer part of the ear can be wiped with a clean cloth.

For further guidance on removing earwax without using cotton swabs, you can refer to the article “How to Remove Earwax Without Using Cotton Swabs” by American doctors on