We’d always advise seeing a professional for earwax removal if you’re ever concerned about earwax build-up or just looking to clean your ears. But we understand that you might want to know how to remove stubborn earwax at home. So we’ve answered some of your questions around earwax removal safety, how best to deal with it and what to avoid while you’re at home.

Infographic showing how to safely remove earwax at home

Contact your GP to seek help, if any of the following apply to you:

   Any pain within the last 90 days

   Any middle ear infections within the last 90 days

   Any current or recurrent ear infection

   Any past operations in or around the ear

   Suspect you have any foreign bodies in the ear canal

   Suspect you have a perforated eardrum

   Any fluid or discharge from inside your ear within the last 90 days

Please do not put any olive oil or wax softening solution in your ears if any of the above conditions apply to you.

infographic showing how not to try to remove earwax yourself

How do you remove deep ear wax at home?

It’s important that you never try to remove impacted earwax or built up earwax at home, as there’s a risk of causing more permanent damage. We also strongly advise against putting anything smaller than your elbow in your ear, since this can harm the ear canal and make the issue worse. 

The best way to safely clean your ears in these situations is to see a professional. They will start by having a good look in your ears to determine the best ear cleaning method for you. Then they’ll either remove the wax manually with specialist tools, or use a method called microsuction.

How can I safely remove earwax at home?

Your ears are self-cleaning, so nine times out of ten you don’t need to do anything, you can just leave them to it. If you feel like your ears do need a clean though, there are a few things you should know in order to clean them safely at home. 

The only time you’d need to clean your ears is when they’re blocked because of a build-up of earwax, which can interfere with your hearing and could lead to things like ear infections. In this case, the best way to safely clean your ears is to see a professional. 

To keep them in good condition generally, you could use a warm flannel to clean the outside of your ears (making sure that you don’t put anything in your ear) to clear away any excess wax or debris. Find out how to clean your ears safely here.

Do I need to soften my earwax and what can I use?

For mild cases of earwax build-up, a professional might recommend that you use ear drops at home to help soften the wax. Sometimes this can expand the wax so the issue might seem a little worse, but it’s a helpful process when it comes to removing it. Or the earwax might fall out on its own. Typical ear drop types include: sodium bicarbonate 5%, sodium chloride 0.9% or olive oil. 

Specsavers recommend the use of Earol to soften earwax (available to purchase in all Specsavers stores). It's important that the wax is soft to make the procedure as comfortable and effective as possible. We recommend using it once per day in the affected ear and repeat for 5 days before your appointment.

Ear drops can’t be used if it’s suspected that your eardrum is damaged, or if you have a history of ear infections.

How do you remove stubborn earwax with olive oil?

Olive oil isn’t an ear cleaner. It can sometimes be used to soften earwax, but it can’t dissolve it. You shouldn’t put anything in your ears if you have a history of ear infections or if your eardrum is damaged — so it’s always best to get some advice from a professional before you try doing this at home.

Before you come into one of our stores for an earwax removal appointment, your audiologist might ask you to use a small amount of olive oil in your ears to soften the wax beforehand.

Can I use candles to remove earwax?

We advise against using candles to try and remove earwax. There’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that it’s an efficient or safe way to remove wax, not to mention the added risk of having hot wax and a flame so close to your face and head. Read our advice on using ear candles here.

Can you remove impacted earwax at home?

We strongly advise against trying to remove impacted earwax at home as there’s a risk of causing more permanent damage to your ears in doing so. As a rule of thumb, don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.

Are at-home earwax removal kits safe?

You should avoid buying any at-home earwax removal kits without first getting some advice from an audiologist or pharmacist. They’ll be able to recommend the safest way to remove earwax, whether that be at home or by visiting a professional.

Are cotton buds safe to use to remove earwax at home?

Cotton buds can pose a lot of unnecessary risk to your ear health — it can push the wax further into the ear canal and put pressure on, or even damage, your eardrum — so it’s best to avoid using them to remove earwax at home.

What can I do if my ear still feels blocked?

If your ear still feels blocked, get in touch with an audiologist or pharmacist. They might recommend another option to try or refer you on for further help.

What can I do if my ear still feels blocked?

If your ear still feels blocked, get in touch with an audiologist or pharmacist. They might recommend another option to try or refer you on for further help.

Is it safe to put hydrogen peroxide in your ear?

No, it is not safe to put concentrated hydrogen peroxide solution into your ear because it can cause irritation and discomfort, temporary hearing loss, dizziness and tinnitus. If you already have an ear injury it may also cause infection or further pain. 

If you are concerned about blocked ears, you should book an appointment with your GP, or talk to a pharmacist or audiologist who can properly advise you on how best to remove earwax. It is never advisable to try removing earwax on your own.

Do you have to dilute hydrogen peroxide for earwax removal?

It is not safe to use concentrated hydrogen peroxide in your ear. The ear drops bought over the counter from healthcare professionals contain the correct amount of diluted hydrogen peroxide which is deemed safe to use in your ears. If you feel you have too much wax in your ears, pop in to one of our stores to have your ears checked. 

Book an earwax removal appointment here

Can you use hydrogen peroxide with an ear infection?

No, you cannot use hydrogen peroxide with an ear infection. If you think you have an ear infection see your GP for the correct treatment.

Is there specialised advice for people who wear hearing aids?

Earwax can sometimes prevent hearing aids working to their full potential, so regular cleaning and maintenance is important to keep up with — a yearly appointment is also a good idea. If you feel your hearing has changed or you have any of the symptoms of impacted earwax, you should get in touch with your audiologist for a check-up. 

If you have any concerns about your hearing, it’s always best to book an appointment with an audiologist to get professional advice.

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