Why you shouldn’t use cotton buds


Cotton buds are useful for many different reasons but contrary to common belief, you shouldn’t use them to clean inside your ears.

Many people swear by them to remove earwax or unwanted objects inside the ear canal – but why do we think you shouldn’t use them, and what do we recommend instead?

Why Does Our Body Produce Earwax?

We have specialised cells in our ear canal that produce cerumen, which is also commonly known as earwax.

We produce cerumen to remove dust, foreign particles and other debris from accumulating deep inside your ear. If your body doesn’t produce enough earwax, your ears can become dry, itchy, and prone to infection.

Some people can produce more cerumen than others, thus leading to an accumulation of earwax making it difficult to hear and could also lead to pain or discomfort. 

When we experience this discomfort, we want to remedy the problem as quickly as we can, so we use objects such as q-tips to remove unwanted earwax; however, this is proven to cause more damage than good. Let’s find out why.

Your Eardrums Are Fragile

Did you know that you can very easily reach your eardrums with a cotton bud? Since it is so easy to do, and your eardrum is so delicate, you can easily rupture your eardrum by putting even the slightest bit of pressure when using a q-tip.

I Think I May Have Damaged Or Punctured My Eardrum

If you puncture your eardrum, you will experience severe pain, and your ear may leak a clear fluid. A punctured eardrum can heal. However, it could take longer than you’d expect and it can also lead to conductive hearing loss.

If you think you have damaged or punctured your eardrum, contact us for a same-day appointment.

How To Clean Your Ears

In most cases, you don’t have to clean your ear canal. Normally, they become clean during the process of washing your hair or standing under a shower. Simply because enough water can enter your ear canal naturally. 

It is also important to learn that the skin in your ear grows out in an outward spiral. During this process, your earwax will move with this process.

You can clean the outer part of your ear every now and then with a small amount of soap and a washcloth. However, we advise you to still be gentle with your ear since you could cause an injury if too heavy-handed.

Why Is It Bad To Use Cotton Buds In Your Ears?

Despite the many proven catastrophes to come from using q-tips, many people will continue to use them in their everyday hygiene routine.

The risks of using q-tips could resort to punctured eardrums or impacted earwax.

Using a foreign object to clean your ears could not only result in the above conditions, but it can also cause hearing loss or a damaged ear canal or eardrum

Many people use cotton swabs to clean their ears.

The reason for this is often to clean out earwax from the ear canal. However, while it’s safe to clean the outside of your ear with a cotton swab, it’s best to avoid using them inside your ear.

Using cotton swabs inside your ear is associated with a variety of complications, including injury and infection.

We also strongly suggest you avoid using methods such as ear candles and commercially available suction devices. Remember, the safest way to have excess earwax removed is by a specialist.

When Should You See A Specialist About Earwax Build Up?

For some people it is common to accumulate earwax, and therefore be left with a heavy wax build up inside the ear canal. What specialists tend to do is remove the ear wax with peroxide mixed with water. It is then injected into the ear, removing the impacted wax.

If you are experiencing significant wax build up in your ear canals, or think wax could be affecting your hearing, a specialist can examine your ear canal by using an otoscope. This tool allows us to assess the situation so that we can determine the best course of action.

If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to hear what’s going on around you, or you’re feeling blocked out of conversations that you used to be able to participate in without an issue, a build-up of excess ear wax could very likely be the cause.

To relieve the discomfort and restore your hearing it’s best to have the wax removed, and the best way to do that is with our microsuction treatment.


So that’s it! Those are our thoughts and advice on using cotton buds to clean your ears.

We would always recommend you visit us if you feel there may be a blockage or your ears are producing more earwax than normal. If you experience any pain or discomfort rather visit us and receive the correct diagnosis and remedy, than to take matters into your own hands, potentially causing long-term damage.