As the old saying goes, “You shouldn’t put anything in your ears smaller than your elbow.” And that includes Q-Tips.
The cotton swabs that most of us use to clean wax out of our ears are a lot more harmful than helpful. When you put a Q-tip in your ear, it actually ends up pushing most of the wax deeper into the canal instead of digging it out the way it’s supposed to. The wax then sits up against your ear drums and prevents them from vibrating properly, which can cause hearing problems. And if you dig too deep, you can actually wind up puncturing your ear drum, which is not only traumatizing (as anyone who has seen Season 2 of Girls can attest), it can have serious long-term effects on your hearing.
As gross as it sometimes seems, it’s important to understand that having earwax is actually a good thing. The wax helps lubricate our ear canals to keep them functioning properly, keeps bugs from crawling inside our ears, and prevents fungus from growing around our ear drums—situations that are all a lot worse than the earwax itself.
Ears are pretty good at cleaning themselves on their own, but if you do feel like they need a little extra help, here are six alternative methods for getting wax out of your ears without a Q-tip.
1. TRY THE FINGER AND TISSUE TRICK.
No Q-tip? No problem! If you haven’t let things get really backed up inside your ears (as in, it’s not hard and crusty in there), all you need to do is…