Why You Need To Stop Putting Q-Tips In Your Ears Right Now

Resist the urge. Here's why.

Along with showering often and brushing your teeth, cleaning your ears with a q-tip has probably been a hygiene tip you’ve been taught since you were a kid.

However, turns out this practice is a big no-no. Using a q-tip to clean your ear can actually increase the risk of injury and infection in your ear, which can result in permanent damage.

Your first instinct may be to think, “But what do I do with all that ear wax?” Well, the answer is: nothing. Ear wax, known also by its medical name cerumen, is there to help keep your ear naturally clean.

It keeps it moisturized, prevents dust, dirt, and other debris from entering your ear, and messing with your body’s natural way of protecting itself can lead to possible pain and infection.

So why is sticking a q-tip into your ear so bad? Using a cotton swab in the canal of your ear can actually push back the wax deeper inside the ear into parts where it doesn’t naturally clean itself.

This can bring in fungus, bacteria, and viruses from the outer ear, resulting in infection. The pressure from the q-tip can also cause damage to the ear canal, which can lead to bleeding and even permanent hearing loss.

Don’t believe me? The Q-Tip brand itself even posts a “Personal Care Tip” on its site that specifies “To clean your ears, stroke Q-tips® cotton swabs gently around the outer ear, without entering the ear canal.”

Hear that? Don’t enter the ear canal.

Everyone’s ears produce different levels of wax, and sometimes, people’s ears do produce more excess wax than others. If this is the case, use a cloth to wash any buildup on the outside of your ear, but avoid putting anything — q-tip or otherwise —directly into your ear canal.

I found this tool on Amazon and definitely doesn’t seem safe to stick into your ear. A metal tip? No thank you.


This cleanser is a best seller on Amazon ($8.52).

Some Otolaryngologists (Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor) say the best way to clean ears is to put a few drops of water or hydrogen peroxide into the ear, let it sit for a few minutes, then blot it out with a cotton ball. The moisture will help loosen and soften any excess wax build up. it’s important to note that you shouldn’t do this if you have a perforated ear drum.

If your ears feel excessively full or you feel that the wax buildup is starting to affect your hearing, you should see a medical professional for a proper cleaning.

Otherwise, it’s time to ditch the unnecessary habit.

Photo by willc2