The Truth About Q-Tips

It’s usually a satisfying when you clean your ears with a q-tip and see that something came out. The feeling itself is actually pretty soothing for me at least when cleaning my ears with a q-tip. I’m trying to find the words to describe it but I just can’t, it’s really just an experience like no other. But recently, I’ve been a little more concerned about the (un)healthy habit that is ear cleaning. Why are q-tips so dangerous and warned against? We’ve all heard the old “ear drum” argument but is that all it really is? I had to find out before I cleaned them again.

According to Fox, cleaning your ears with a q-tip and going too deep in the canal can cause you to puncture your ear drum with a q-tip sized hole. This results in bleeding and massive pain. The hole could heal in a week-a few months but if not, surgery is required. In an even worse case, it can result in hearing loss. If this did happen to occur, putting water in your ear could cause a detrimental infection.

Written in the same article, it really isn’t even all that necessary to clean your ears regularly. If ear wax causes your hearing to be bad, that is when you should clean them but, naturally, the ears canals clean themselves. Having a little ear wax in your ear is totally normal. If you do still feel the need to clean your ears, use an ear syringe. (Side note, I didn’t know what an ear syringe was either so I put a picture below.)  This is a safer way to clean ears and is similar to what you’d clean a babies ears with.



Ear wax isn’t even all that bad to have! There are essentially two types of ear wax, “wet and dry” as found in this article I found on Google Scholar. Too little ear wax can cause infections whereas too much can cause hearing loss, etc. So therefore, it is beneficial to have some in there, don’t try to scrape it all out with a cotton swab!

So while the “ear-gasm” may feel great, think about a painful infection or losing your hearing for life. It just isn’t worth it! Your ear wax is there for a reason!!

7 thoughts on “The Truth About Q-Tips

  1. Brian Cunningham

    This is one of those “home remedies” that have gone too far to really be able to take back at this point. Because they were used so widely for this purpose before any real research said to do otherwise, it just became a staple bathroom utility. I’ve tried to stop using them myself, but my mom, who has read this research and understands why they’re harmful, still sort of shrugs it off as a sort of “we’ve been doing it for years and we’re fine” justification. I’m sure that, in the next decade, we’ll find a lot more things wrong with homemade health practices we use every day.

  2. Ahmed Mohamed

    This is pretty neat because I went for a swim one day and came back with water stuck in my ear. I used a q tip to try to soak up the water but I went to deep and ended up getting hurt. I was really upset because I knew I needed to clear out my ear but I didn’t know of any other way of doing it. How do you guys think we can make keeping your ears healthy without hurting ourselves?

  3. Sean Patrick Hickey

    Ive always been scared of going too deep with a q tip. just thinking about that makes me squirm. But many of these other methods seem like too much work for me, if I am going to clean my ears I want to be able to do it in a minute and not have to break out a big test tube. So i think for now ill take my chances with q tips.

  4. Michael David Kresovich

    Q tips are so tricky because doctors tell you not to use them but everyone uses them anyways, and they are pretty effective too. I use q tips because I know that they work and I know they do not affect me. I am carefl though, this was an interesting post

  5. Amily Zhuang

    I’m really glad you wrote about this, I love using q-tips!! However I am still skeptical and I wish you had provided more evidence and studies to validate your claims. No worries, nothing a little google can’t do!
    I’m sure a lot of students (and people in general) are ignorant to this and are actually puncturing their ear drums.

    During my trip to italy, the flight attendant told me that people’s ears who pop really painfully are hurting their eardrums with q-tips.
    Here is a video I found on how to clean your ears properly people!

  6. William Joseph Robbins-cole

    My middle school music teacher always wondered us of the dangers of cleaning our ears and the effects it would have on our hearing. After hearing this (no pun intended) i asked my friends parents, both of whom are doctors, whether this is true. My friends parents said that while there is danger in hurting your eardrum on the whole there is not a high risk and doctors really do not like cleaning ears so it would be perfectly fine for us to continue to clean our ears.

Leave a Reply