5 Reasons You Should Not Use Q-Tips To Clean Your Ears

Otolaryngologists or ear, nose, and throat doctors often advise against the use of Q-tips or cotton swabs for cleaning ears. Despite the advice, many people still use these items to remove excess ear wax or dry up the water in the ear canal after a shower or summer swim. While it seems like a common practice, people do not realize the potential harm they are doing to their ears. If you currently use Q-tips or cotton swabs to clean your ears, consider the following five reasons you should stop.

1. Removes the Waterproofing Layer

Earwax is not some gross bodily excretion. Granted, your body produces more than it needs at times, but it naturally pushes the excess out of the canal, where it can easily be removed with a tissue. One of the primary reasons your body produces earwax is to waterproof the ear canal, preventing water buildup. When you remove too much earwax, water can become trapped in the canal, possibly leading to infections.

2. Removes the Natural Antibiotic

Beyond protecting the ear from excess water or fluid buildups, earwax is a natural antibiotic. The wax has an acidic quality that can help prevent some infections, like swimmer’s ear. By stripping away the wax inside the ear, you open yourself up to potential conditions and problems. Many problems caused by the removal of too much wax can be linked to balance and health issues.

3. Risk Ear Damage

People often reach for Q-tips and cotton swabs because they seem like the right size for the job. Unfortunately, these items are too small and allow too much access to the ear's sensitive and fragile areas. When you insert the cotton swab into your ear, losing sight of the tip, you are putting the swab too far into your ear. The eardrum is not as far into the canal as you might think, and any contact with this sensitive part of your ear can cause damage.

4. Causes Buildups

The use of cotton swabs can also lead to wax buildups in your ear. When you insert the swab into your ear, you likely force some earwax deeper into the canal. By moving wax back into the ear, you interfere with the wax's natural removal and movement process. Remember, your body will naturally push excess wax out of your ear, and you can remove that excess by draping a tissue over your finger and gently wiping it around the outer ear.

5. Potential Hearing Loss and Balance Problems

The use of Q-Tips can lead to severe damage. Most people will not experience significant trauma, but if the swab is pushed too far into the ear canal, it can puncture the eardrum. Just beneath the eardrum lies several tiny and fragile bones responsible for balance and transporting soundwaves. If the cotton swab is pushed too far into the ear with too much force, it is possible to suffer significant balance problems and hearing loss; though, neither is likely.

Do you use Q-Tips or cotton swabs to clean your ears? Has reading this blog changed your mind about the use of these items? Leave a comment below to contribute to the conversation.

10 Replies to “5 Reasons You Should Not Use Q-Tips To Clean Your Ears”

  1. Interesting. Always use QTips to clean my ear and got ear infections regularly.

    But it feels so good though! lol

    Thanks for sharing. Very helpful.

  2. I’ll continue to use them for it, I always have, I always will. I like the way it feels in my ear. I itch them that way.
    If there not for your ears, then what exactly are they for?

  3. I didn’t know these facts about Q-Tips; thank you. I will refrain from using them to clear the wax from my ears going forward.

  4. What is the use of q-tips?
    Why are they still selling them?
    They even sell them with a special tip for babies

  5. What is your suggestion to clean out the ears? I wear hearing aids
    and need to keep the ears clean

  6. Thanks for telling us not to use Q-tips on our ears. But you did not say anything about alternate ways to remove excessive ear wax.
    I get excessive buildup in my ears, and every two yrs or so, I have to go to the Doctor, and they have to flush out my ears repeatedly with a large syringe full of water. It HURTS!

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