Ears are incredibly sensitive organs and it is important to be extremely careful when cleaning them to avoid potentially permanent damage or increasing the risk infection. Because your ears actually produce earwax to keep themselves clean, there is very minimal effort needed on your part when it comes to your auditory system. If you feel like you need to clean your ears, consider the four following tips:

1. Don’t clean them too often

Most people don’t really need to clean their ears, at all. Ears are self-cleaning organs that will trap dirt and bacteria with earwax before moving it out of the ear canal. The problem is that earwax can be a bit unsightly, so all too often people will try and remove every trace of it from inside their ears. This puts your ears at risk of infection; it is also completely counter-productive as cleaning your ears actually stimulates the production of even more earwax. If you must clean your ears, simply give them a gentle wipe with a damp cloth after your shower or bath. Nothing more is needed.

2. Don’t use cotton swabs inside your ears

You should never insert any object into your ear canal, especially a cotton swab. While many people believe these are designed to clean inside your ears, they actually do more damage than good. Cleaning your ear canal with a cotton swab can cause earwax impaction, a perforated eardrum or a dry, irritated ear canal.

3. Don’t use ear candles

Ear candling involves placing a cone-shaped candle into your ear canal and lighting it; the vacuum this creates supposedly draws excess earwax out of your ear. First, there is absolutely no clinical evidence that suggests ear candles work, so the best-case scenario would be you simply wasting your money. Secondly, ear candles are incredibly dangerous; they have been known to cause eardrum perforations and fairly serious burns!

4. Don’t use a syringe at home

This technique can work, but also carries certain risks when administered at home without the skill of a professional. It is all too easy not to drain the ear properly when using an at-home rinsing kit. Excess moisture in the ear can lead to infections like swimmer’s ear.

If you feel you have a serious earwax problem, the safest thing to do is to make an appointment with a hearing care specialist. They will be able to quickly and safely remove any excess wax for you. It will be far more effective and carries none of the risks!