One of the most common reasons for temporary hearing loss is a build up of ear wax, which obstructs the ear canal and interferes with hearing. Clearly, if you have encountered this or believe that a buildup of ear wax might be causing some diminished hearing, you want to clean out your ears. Although this is a natural desire, it is vital that you understand how to clean your ears safely, without causing hearing or tissue damage.

In this case it is better to begin with a few tips on what not to do when trying to clean your ears. Do not insert any physical objects into your ear. Regardless of whether it’s a cotton swab or other tool, you are more likely to make the problem even worse by further compressing the ear wax if you start poking around in your ear. Another thing you should never do is attempt to use any gadget that injects pressurized water (such as a WaterPik) directly into your ears; to do this risks perforating your ear drums. Last but not least, if you believe you might have either a punctured eardrum or an ear infection, do not try to clean your ears on your own. Have a hearing specialist do it. Warning signs indicating a possible infection or punctured ear drum include fluid draining from the ears, fever, ear pain and vomiting or diarrhea.

Cleaning your ears properly in your own home can be done with syringe or bulb and a rinse solution from the drug store. Get the rinse solution (typically carbamide peroxide) at a pharmacy or prepare your own by combining equal amounts 3-4%, mineral oil and glycerin.

When using this solution, it’s best to lay down on your side on top of a towel to catch any dripping solution, or lean over a sink; then you just squeeze the solution slowly into each ear, trying to avoid touching the ear with the syringe or bulb. Keep the solution in each ear for a few minutes giving it time to work .

The solution will soften and loosen the built up ear wax so that it can be washed away. Use lukewarm water to wash each ear and towel dry. Again, don’t insert anything into the ear when drying. If your ears still seem blocked, repeat a couple of times a day for 2-3 days. If the problem continues, consult a hearing specialist or hearing instrument specialist for assistance.