Health

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.

How Will I Clean My Ears?

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.

Adobe

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.

What Happens When You Stick A Q-Tip In Your Ear

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.

Adobe

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.

Even The Q-Tip Brand Agrees

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.”

Adobe

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.

Adobe

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.

Adobe

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

Other Uses For Q-tips

Just because you stop sticking these beloved cotton swabs into the depths of your ear doesn’t mean you have to give up Q-tips altogether. For starters, you should definitely continue using them to clean your outer ear, as the company recommends. No one wants a grimy outer ear.

Beyond this, there’s a plethora of unexpected uses for Q-tips that don’t involve your ear canal. Check out a few examples below.

1. Fix Wall Smudges

Add a bit of paint to the end of a cotton swab, and dab across across any scuff marks. It will instantly cover the mark without having to using any brushes or palettes.

2. Clean Your Keyboard

Overtime, crumbs, dirt, and debris can gather in the cracks of your computer’s keyboard. Wipe away any germs or dust using a cotton swab in those hard-to-reach crevices.

Adobe

3. Crafting

Placing sequins, beads, and baubles can be so frustrating. Make your crafting process easier by using Q-tips to place these tiny pieces.

4. Use As A Paint Brush For Little Hands

Sometimes kids have problems holding a larger brush. Give them a smaller tool to make expressing their creativity that much easier.

5. Removing Lint From A Hair Dryer

Remember all of that lint that gathers at the end of your hair dryer? Yeah, it’s pretty gross. Clean it out using cotton swabs.

6. Detail Your Car

Spray with a little all purpose cleaner and get between the AC vents with a handful of Q-Tips.

Adobe

RELATED: This bird found a q-tip and gave himself a little grooming session!

Photo by willc2