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Every earwax removal method compared

Every earwax removal method compared

There are lots of different earwax removal methods available, but which one is the best? And which should you avoid completely? In this article, we’re going to break down each and every common earwax removal technique available.


Microsuction is a relatively new and advanced technique that is becoming more and more popular. It uses a suction device to draw the wax out of your ear. This is a very quick and safe procedure, and skips over most of the potential issues that other methods may run into. It is the “gold standard” of ear wax removal.

Ear syringing

An outdated method, ear syringing used to be the most common way to remove earwax. Ear syringing involves a large metal syringe to aim a pressurised jet of warm water into your ear. It shouldn’t hurt, but might feel slightly uncomfortable as the water flushes the wax away. It is no longer recommended due to potential complications including tinnitus, perforation of the eardrum and otitis externa (swimmers ear), amongst others.

Ear irrigation

The updated version of ear syringing, ear irrigation uses a pressure controlled electric irrigator instead of a metal syringe. It usually starts at a low pressure setting and gets increased to remove stubborn earwax. It is relatively safe, but can leave your ears wet which can lead to ear infections. 

Earwax removal drops

One of the most common over-the-counter earwax removal solutions. It is designed to loosen, soften or dissolve ear wax, and is a relatively inexpensive and easy method. However, it can be very time consuming, with slow results. It takes 5-10 minutes per ear, 2 to 3 times a day, for up to 14 days. Additionally, there are plenty of potential dangers that could lead to negative results, such as if the room isn’t the right temperature or if you have had a ruptured eardrum in the past. And after all that time and risk, the earwax removal drops might not work.

Manual earwax removal

The manual earwax removal method involves using specialised tools like forceps or a curette, to manually remove the earwax. In the hands of a professional, it is a relatively safe and effective method, which is why we highly recommend relying on an experienced audiologist for this technique. While it is possible to buy the tools yourself, it is dangerous and can lead to injuries.

Over-the-counter ear cleaning kits

These come in all different shapes and sizes. Usually they will contain a bulb syringe, drops or a spray. It is very important to follow the steps carefully, read online reviews of the product, and talk to your doctor first before using one. Ear cleaning kits will usually be safe, but results will vary. For the time, money and effort, it’s usually better to go to a professional.

Cotton swabs/buds

This should be avoided at all costs. The idea is that you would use these cotton swabs to pull the earwax out of your ear. Rather than removing the earwax, it is often being pushed further into your ear and can lead to injuries. Do not insert any objects into your ear to clean earwax unless you know what you’re doing.


Ear candling is the process of inserting a hollow cone candle into your ear, and lighting the other side. It is claimed that suction from lighting the candle will pull the earwax out of your ear. However, it’s been proven that this does not work, and instead could be potentially dangerous due to flames and hot wax near your face. Ear candle stores like to show the “earwax” that was removed from the candle afterwards, but this is usually the inside of the candle, and not earwax.

And that’s the full list of earwax removal methods. In our experience, microsuction is by far the best option due to it being the safest, fastest and most effective, while not breaking the bank. That’s why earLAB specialises in microsuction earwax removal

If you are planning on trying one of these methods on your own, please speak to an audiologist or doctor first.