Why you shouldn’t clean your ears with Q-tips

After every shower I grab a Q-tip from the box and stick it in my ear cleaning out the shampoo and wax, doesn’t everyone?  We all ignore the many warnings saying to not insert the swab into ear canal, but we all do anyway.  Without thinking, could this potentially be bad for us?

q-tips            The most obvious reason to not stick the Q-tip in your ear is that it could puncture your eardrum.  We all say we won’t go that deep, but how deep is your ear drum?  If the entire cotton part of the Q-tip is in, you’re probably touching your ear drum.  When you touch this part of your ear you press on the little bones below it, which send shock waves into your inner ear and can cause problems with your hearing and balance.  In extremely rare occasions, you may puncture your eardrum and have to have surgery to fix it, or possibly lose your hearing forever.  This is not likely, but most commonly people will push the wax further back into the ear.  They often push more back than they get out, and will eventually need a doctor to help remove it.


So, if I’m not supposed to use a Q-tip to get the wax out, how should I?  The truth is, you actually shouldn’t remove the wax from your ears.  Your ear makes wax to waterproof themselves.  If the wax is removed, you are more likely to get swimmers ear or other ear infections because the water will get in and be trapped.  Therefore, leave your earwax where it is and save your Q-tips for various other activities.  Such as makeup, babies, cleaning, arts and crafts, and many other things, but not cleaning your ears.

7 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t clean your ears with Q-tips

  1. orh5030

    Doing this is literally one of the best feelings in the world. If you can find the point where it kind of hurts but feels good at the same time you are doing it right. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid and my mom did it for me, and I will continue to do it for ever. I understand it’s bad for you but you can do a lot worse then cleaning your ears. I have to ask has anyone actually ever used one to clean there keyboard?

  2. Claudia Lynn Hatch

    This is so interesting. I have always wondered whether or not I should clean out my ears, so this was very helpful. I will be even more cautious now if I ever do clean out my ears, and I will try to avoid the use of Q tips. I think you did a great job expressing your ideas and formatting the question I’m sure many of us have. Great job!
    Check out this article relating to the topic!

  3. Elsa Breakey

    This is a habit of mine that I’ve been doing since I can remember, but this post is scary and the effects can definitely be detrimental! I knew that using Q-Tips wasn’t always the best idea, but as long as it cleaned my ears, I wasn’t too concerned. My mom actually used a remedy before with a wax stick and a paper plate and it gets the wax out of your ears. It’s called ear candling. Heres a video, it’s a little gross.

  4. Nicole B Sherman

    I have to say that I found this post to be both entertaining and enlightening. What I like most about it is that it has helped to clear up a major misconception. I always thought that cleaning your ears with Q-Tips was a good thing, to me at least, I always felt better after cleaning out my ears, and I guess I always just associated that with being healthy. That is why, after reading your article, I find it interesting that Q-Tips can actually hurt you. It’s crazy to think that, after all these years of thinking that I was cleaning out my ears, I was actually hurting myself by pushing the wax deeper into the ear canal. I know that from now on I will no longer be doing this. What I also liked about your article was that it brought to light a very serious issue that I think, as you mentioned, a lot of us don’t take seriously when cleaning our ears. I never even considered that I could potentially hurt my eardrum in a major way, simply because I wanted to rid my ear canal of wax. It makes me wonder how common and easy it is to punctuate your eardrum. I actually found a great article that discusses this, which you can find here, if you’re interested. Also, I just want to note that overall I found your article to be very helpful. Something that I suffer from a lot is getting swimmer’s ear, I have never attributed it to the fact that I could be cleaning my ears out too often, but now, because of your article, I will definitely make sure to be more conscious of this!

  5. Alex Felton

    There is a box of q-tips in my drawer that will totally not be used now. This issue I feel is especially important for kids, and the fact that I thought they were cleaning ears up until this point is pretty alarming. My mom has always been a big advocator for using these and I can’t believe she was wrong.

  6. Daniella Cappello

    For years my mom has been preaching to me about this. Like always, I ignored the claims and brushed it off with “its a typical mom worry, nothing serious.” After reading your post and the research included, my mind is changed. I am actually second guessing my daily post shower q-tip routine.

    1. Katelyn Bowers Post author

      My mom would always do the same thing as well. I actually just sent her a link to the articles I read to show she was right (I’m sure I’ll get a text along the lines of “I told you” back). I came up with the idea to write about this because my roommate yelled at me to not do it, so I figured I would look into it. I have officially decided to change my routine and not use a Q-tip to clean my ear anymore because of how convincing these articles are.

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