The Correct Way to Remove Impacted Earwax That Worked for Me

Updated on November 29, 2017
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok is skilled at researching health related issues. He shares his experience to help educate and inform those with similar concerns.

I’m going to show you how I succeeded in removing impacted earwax. You’ll be able to follow every step of my personal account of my experience in this article.

One warning before we start: if you have a perforated eardrum, this method should not be used. If you have an earache or low-grade fever, or if you experience vertigo (dizziness), you may have a more serious problem and you should see your doctor for proper treatment.

The purpose of this article is to share my experience in an effort to help others with similar issues. It's always important to see your doctor first to rule out more serious conditions.

How I Got Impacted Earwax

I always thought I was doing the right thing carefully drying my ears with cotton swabs after taking a shower. I was always careful to avoid going in too far with the swabs. I knew not to touch the eardrum. I’ve done this all my adult life.

Now, in my mid-60s, I suddenly had a problem with impacted earwax in my left ear. Evidently, I was pushing the wax in deeper and deeper over time.

According to the Mayo Clinic, using cotton swabs or other items to clean one’s ears may remove some wax, but it actually pushes more wax into the ear canal even deeper.1

The Purpose of Earwax

The chemical name for earwax is cerumen. It has a definite purpose. It helps protect us by keeping foreign bodies and outside contaminants, such as dust and insects, from entering the ear canal.

Dust and pollen will get caught in the wax and not make it deep into the ear canal where it could damage the eardrum. The wax can even hinder the ability for bugs to crawl in; think of it as flypaper.

The Body’s Natural Method of Wax Removal

I realize now that the best thing is to let the body handle this naturally.

What I learned while researching this matter, is that moving your jaw while talking, and chewing while eating, will help push the wax outward. In addition, the ear canal has tiny hairs that vibrate to move the wax outward. It’s a natural function of the body to move the wax out, like on a slow motion conveyor belt.2

My Ear With Impacted Wax Clearly Visible

Source

A Visit to My Doctor

I suddenly lost quite a bit of hearing in my left ear one day. It started right after I took a shower, so I already imagined it was an earwax problem and I didn’t panic. Nevertheless, I had my doctor check it out just to be sure I was right.

My doctor looked in my ear with an otoscope (ear scope) and was able to rule out any serious conditions. This is important to have confirmed before attempting to resolve the problem on your own.

He told me to use an over-the-counter earwax softener and if that doesn’t work in a week, then I should see an ENT doctor.

In severe cases, a specialist has the proper instruments to manually remove impacted earwax. I was able to resolve the problem with the earwax softener at home, but it took a lot of patience and repeated softening and irrigation sessions, as I’ll explain.

How Earwax Softening and Irrigation Works to Remove Impacted Earwax

What’s Needed

The process is to first soften the wax that’s impacted. The safest method is with an earwax softener. This is supplied in a dropper bottle that can be used to place the required amount of fluid in the canal (usually 5 to 10 drops).

Some people say you can use hydrogen peroxide to soften the wax, but it’s safer to use the proper chemical approved for this. With a little research, I found the Debrox Earwax Removal Kit. This includes a syringe that’s required to irrigate the canal after using the softener.

Most earwax softeners are 6.5% Carbamide Peroxide, so you can actually use any product that contains this as the active ingredient. Buying a lesser-known brand can save you some money and they work just as well. I later discovered a similar kit made by E-R-O that sold for less at Walmart.

Earwax Removal Kit with Bulb Syringe and Softener Drops
Earwax Removal Kit with Bulb Syringe and Softener Drops | Source

How to Use the Earwax Softener With My Improved Method

The instructions say to tilt your head sideways and place 5 to 10 drops of softener into the ear with the dropper. Then after several minutes, flush with warm water using the bulb syringe. Even the Mayo Clinic website says to do it that way.2

I found this didn’t work for me, so I made several improvements to this process.

First of all, it takes almost an hour. Yes, I lay in bed with my ear up for well over 45 minutes after putting in ten drops. I found the more, the better—as long as you don’t overflow the canal and make a mess. I could feel it fizzing all that time, so I knew it was still working even after half an hour. That fizzing means that the ingredient is activating and breaking down wax.

I had a book with me to spend the time reading. Another time I used my iPad, so I could watch a video to pass the time. The important thing is to keep your ear facing up all that time while you feel the fizzing action. It’s actually a good feeling, knowing that it’s working.

Now, this is important: I pulled my earlobe in all directions a few times during the session as shown below. I could tell that I was helping the softener work its way around and loosen more wax.

Help the softener work its way deeper by pulling on the earlobe.
Help the softener work its way deeper by pulling on the earlobe. | Source

How to Irrigate After Softening the Wax (My Improved Method)

After each session of letting the wax softener fizzle in my ear for an hour, I tilted my head the other way, using a tissue to catch the softener fluid and some wax as it drained out.

More wax can be removed by irrigating with warm water. I used the supplied rubber bulb syringe to flush the ear. I filled a teacup with warm water and sucked the water into the syringe as shown below.

The water should only be body temperature. Water that is too warm or too cold can cause dizziness or loss of balance.

I also had to improve on the method described in the instructions on the box.

They tell you to gently flush the ear with warm water after letting the softener drain out, but they don’t explain how to do this the right way. At first, I made the mistake of using the syringe to fill my ear with warm water, then turning my ear down to let the water drain out. That was wrong! No one tells you this.

Source

The best way to use the syringe is to pump the water into the ear while facing the ear down over the sink. Squeezing the bulb syringe quickly forces the water up. I discovered that more wax comes out when flushing upward and letting it immediately drain out. It’s a little messy, but more wax comes out that way.

I did that several times until I used up all the warm water in the teacup. Then I dried my ear with a towel, but never again will I use a cotton stick.

Every day for four days I repeated the session of fizzing and irrigating. Each day I felt some improvement.

Fourth Day Success

On the fourth day I was feeling much better and realized I could hear through my left ear again, but not very well. I continued with another session of using the softener and flushing my ear.

After 45 minutes of lying in bed with my ear up to the ceiling, I turned to let it drain into a tissue and then went over the bathroom sink to irrigate my ear a few times with warm water—with my ear facing down and shooting upwards with the syringe bulb, as usual.

Suddenly a huge dark bit of wax fell into the sink when the water drained. I was amazed by the looks of it. “That thing was in my ear?” I thought to myself.

I was hearing completely normal after that, but I decided to do one more session the next day anyway—just to be sure.

I spent the next few days doing the same procedure with my other ear, even though I didn’t have any problems there. I just figured if I had created the problem by using the cotton swabs, I probably might have an issue developing with my right ear too. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to perform a healthy irrigation occasionally.

© 2017 Glenn Stok

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      3 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Robert Winford - I did not have any of those symptoms because I never let my situation worsen to the point beyond just the sense of hearing reduction.

      I do have tinnitus, but that started long ago and not related to earwax in my case. However some people do have earache, ringing or dizziness as a result of side effects from the earwax.

      Usage of earphones can be a major cause of hearing problems. I sometimes hear the music someone near me is playing through embedded earphones. If I can hear it, that means they are causing hearing damage to themselves.

      Another problem with earphones is the issue with embedded earwax. You mentioned you push them in deep. That is very dangerous. You need to be deligent with information you read. The article you read is obviously not written with authority. The best thing to do when you question anything people tell you is to ask your doctor.

      In your case, you pushed your earwax in by using your earphones in so far, causing it to become impacted and resulting in that “blocked feeling” you had mentioned. Ringing can also be a result of impacted earwax.

      You also mentioned your use of q-tips. As I discussed in my article, I learned myself that this is not advisable. You end up pushing the natural forming earwax deeper in. You can also damage your eardrum if you do too far. No foreign objects should be placed into your ear canals, not q-tips and not earphones.

    • profile image

      Robert Winford 

      3 months ago

      Thanks for sharing your method. I wanted to ask if you suffered any other symptoms of impacted earwax. Did you get an earache, ringing or dizziness?

      I have earphones that i rarely use. A week ago i put them on - but before I did I read an online article stating that they need to be in deep to get the best sound. I have never put them in deep, but this time i did. Now I have a blocked feeling in one ear and some ringing to go with it. I am also in the habit of using q-tips after a shower. I will probably try your method.

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      4 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Corinne - I had an ENT doctor do that once. Of course that’s a quick solution for those who prefer having a doctor physically dig out the impacted wax.

    • profile image

      Corinne J. Wagner 

      4 months ago

      I will only go to my ENT doctor to clean out the wax build-up in my ears. He takes an instrument and very carefully removes the wax. He also has a tiny instrument that is like a vacuum cleaner which gently sucks out any residual wax that is still in my ears. There is no pain involved whatsoever. I will not touch my ears to remove any wax. I am afraid of injuring my eardrum so I won't take the chance to do this myself. I have so much confidence in my doctor and the wax removal works all the time.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 

      6 months ago from U.S.A.

      Thanks for an informative article. Occasionally, I use a combination of vinegar and rubbing alcohol to clean my ears, but I will get the product you mentioned. Ear wax can be a problem which most people don't consider.

      Thanks.

      Tim

    • profile image

      DDE 

      8 months ago

      The procedure sounds easy but something I won't try for my ears. A very cautious process. Thanks for sharing a useful hub.

    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 

      9 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      I might have to try this.

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      10 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Brian Leekley - You sure have a lot of questions, some of which I answered in this article.

      It’s best not to probe in your ear with any type of instrument. Ear wax is necessary and there is no need to remove it. The wax comes out on its own under normal conditions.

      Pushing anything in your ear may push the wax deeper in. If you push it in, then you may impact it. You’ll know if you can’t hear, as I had mentioned happened to me.

      You don't want to flush out the normal wax under ordinary conditions. Only if it’s impacted. And in that case see a doctor. An otoscope is used to see into the ear canal.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      10 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I sometimes swab inside my ears with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. I won't do that again. Thanks for explaining why not.

      If I don't explore with a cotton swab, how do I find out if I do or don't have impacted wax in my ears, or any wax, out of reach of a fingernail without the expense and bother of seeing a doctor or using a wax softener. Try to find someone willing to look? Can someone see inside an ear all the way to the eardrum with the naked eye and a flashlight? Is an otoscope needed? Or should I assume all is OK in my ears if I can hear OK? Will running shower water into my ears flush out any wax or would shower water push in and impact any wax? Does itchiness in an ear mean there is wax in it?

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      11 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Peg Cole - Thanks for sharing that experience your mother had. It can definitely be done in one day at a clinic if done right, as they did with your mom.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      11 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      I found this to be really helpful both in the tips you shared and in the correct process for getting rid of the earwax with the warm water. My mother had impacted ear wax and I took her to an Ear Clinic where they spent over an hour spraying a peroxide solution into her ear. Eventually an enormous hunk of softened wax came out which had seriously affected her hearing.

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      11 months ago from Long Island, NY

      FlourishAnyway - Putting kidding aside, you just made me realize something. I’m a little OCD when it comes to personal hygiene, so maybe that’s why I overdid it with cleaning my ears and impacting the earwax. Now I’m forcing myself to not dry out my ears anymore after a shower.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      11 months ago from USA

      I’ve always had a thing about clean (unimpacted) ears and white teeth. I’m going to go flush my ears and brush my teeth right now just in case. It’s a slight OCD thing.

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      11 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Nell Rose - The warm water loosened the wax. Various doctors all have their own strategies, but like you said, it look a lot of water.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      11 months ago from England

      I have had that problem quite a few times. I used to do the wax loosen stuff, then go to the Docs where the nurse would pour copious amounts of warm water into the ear, and it would start popping on the way home! lol! glad you got yours sorted.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      11 months ago from Norfolk

      I figured that:)

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      11 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Sally Gulbrandsen - Just to be clear, it only works to help with hearing loss if it's due to impacted earwax, as it was in my case.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      11 months ago from Norfolk

      Good job! I figure this might well be something I will be coming back to in the future. Suffering from hearing loss is not something any of us look forward to. Knowing that there is an effective way to reduce the symptoms is definitely something worth knowing about. Thank you.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, remedygrove.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://remedygrove.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)