Do Q-tips and other swabs really clean your ears?

What is the purpose of cotton swabs?

In this age of hyper-awareness, it can be easy to focus on things that require less attention. For example, there are a plethora of gadgets available that are great at solving problems, but sometimes those problems don’t need a solution.

Worse, there are many sites that train us to believe that the truth is a democracy – whichever answer gets the most votes has to be correct. This can be dangerous to your health. To keep you safe, we talked to a doctor about earwax and whether cotton swabs should ever be used to clean the inside of your ears.

all about earwax

What is earwax?

The medical term for earwax is cerumen. It is a waxy substance that can be brown, orange, yellowish or even gray. The purpose of earwax is to trap dust, bacteria, fungi and more so that it cannot damage the ear.

Do you need to clean earwax?

Over time, the body naturally removes wax from the ear. The skin grows from within and movements such as chewing help earwax move with it. When earwax reaches the outside of the ear, it dries and flakes off. Basically, for the average person, earwax does not build up and the inside of the ear should be left alone when performing daily hygiene routines.

When is earwax a problem?

Earwax only becomes a problem when something causes it to accumulate in the ear canal and stop moving forward. If earwax is affected, it can cause problems that affect your quality of life. If this happens, seek medical attention. However, it is important to reiterate that the average person will never have a problem with earwax if they let the body perform as it is intended.

What are the symptoms of an earwax problem?

When earwax is affected, you know that something is not as it should be. Your ear may feel full, itchy and ringing, or hurt. You may develop hearing loss and become dizzy. Sometimes you may cough and notice an odor or discharge coming from the ear. Since you cannot tell what these symptoms mean, it is best to make an appointment with your health care provider if any of these symptoms occur.

Are cotton swabs good for removing earwax?

According to Dr. Michael Huynh, a hospital doctor associated with Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, swabs are made to clean the outer part of the ear, only the exposed part you can see. However, most of the population uses this product incorrectly. “If you push a cotton swab into your ear canal and dig, even though you get some wax out, you’re pushing a lot more wax deeper into the ear, which can lead to earwax impaction.”

This practice can lead to attenuation and hearing loss. Q-Tip, the leading swab brand, even advises: “Don’t put a swab in the ear canal. Penetrating the ear canal can cause injury. If used to clean ears, gently run the swab over the outer surface of the ear only.

dr. Huynh echoed the company’s safety warnings, stating, “Do not use a cotton swab beyond the recommendations to clean outside the ear.”

What should you use to remove earwax?

If you suspect you have earwax affected, Dr. Huynh to consult a specialist who can excavate that earwax with special tools. If you want to purify your ears at home, the only substance he recommended was mineral oil – “Mineral oil is best because it is a benign substance.” Put a few drops in one ear and leave it on for about five minutes. Then tilt your ear to the side and let it seep out on its own.’

Best Cotton Swabs

While cotton swabs should never be inserted into the ear canal, they have many other useful purposes, ranging from cleaning your computer keyboard and using it to serving as a makeup brush or cleaning tool. Here are some of the best cotton swab deals.

Cotton Swabs Cotton Swabs (750 Count)

This brand name is so recognized that people confuse it with the product name. These Q-Tip swabs are made of 100% cotton with paper swabs from sustainable forests.

Sold by Amazon, DIY store and Staples

Amazon Basics Cotton Swabs

Amazon Basics Cotton Swabs (500 Count)

The multi-purpose swabs in this pack are tipped with soft cotton, making them suitable for beauty needs and a baby’s skin. Full money back guarantee within one year of purchase if not satisfied.

Sold by Amazon

Sky Organics Organic Cotton Swabs (four pieces)

Sky Organics Organic Cotton Swabs (four pieces)

No pesticides, insecticides or chemicals have been used in the manufacture of these organic swabs. They are fragrance free, hypoallergenic and biodegradable.

Sold by Amazon

Q-Tips Antimicrobial Swabs (two pieces)

Q-Tips Antimicrobial Swabs (two pieces)

These Q-Tip swabs treated with antimicrobials are biodegradable and come in recyclable packaging. They can be used as an alternative to makeup brushes, making them ideal for a portable makeup kit.

Sold by Amazon

Best Johnson's Safety Swabs (185-Count)

Johnson’s Safety Swabs (185-count)

These delicate swabs have a bulbous design to make them safer for use around the outer surface of a baby’s ear. They are made from 100% pure, chlorine-free bleached cotton.

Sold by Amazon and Staples

 Natulane Premium Biodegradable Bamboo Swabs

Natulane Premium Biodegradable Bamboo Cotton Swabs (500 Count)

The Natulane swabs are made from renewable bamboo wood and are packaged in an unbleached, plastic-free recyclable packaging.

Sold by Amazon

Best Sephora Collection Organic Cotton Swabs

Sephora Collection Organic Cotton Swabs

Sephora’s ultra-soft swabs can be used on any skin type. They are a plastic-free, vegan option with both the cardboard packaging and the swabs made from materials sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Sold by Kohls and Sephora

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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