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Clean Ears with Cotton Swabs?


I have recently been told by two people that I should not clean my ears with Q-Tips or cotton swabs, because it pushes waxy build-up further into the ear.

I always assumed that if the waxy build-up is moist, then the cotton at the end of the swabs would absorb the build-up thus making it easy to remove. However, if the waxy build-up is dry, then swabs would mostly push waxy build-ups into harder to reach areas in the ear. As a result, I always cleaned my ears after a steamy hot shower to help guarantee my waxy build-up is moist and easy to remove with less risk of pushing it further into my ears.

So, I did a little bit of investigating. Printed on the outside of a Q-Tipsí box, I found this warning message.


"WARNING: Do not insert swab into ear canal. Entering the ear canal could cause injury."


I can understand that a company wants to protect itself from people who accidentally injure their ears using their products, thus they print such a legal disclaimer on their products. Then again, "could cause injury" is not the same thing as "will cause injury".

As a result, I am still confused. If cotton swabs are not safe to clean ears, then what are people suppose to clean their ears with? What is the safest way to clean ears?

Until I get some answers, I will just have to be extra careful when cleaning my ears from now on.

by Phil for Humanity
on 06/05/2008

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