Are you one of those people who enjoy watching videos about cleaning out ears? Believe it or not, videos with the hashtag #earwax have amassed over 5 billion views on TikTok alone.
You may be surprised by the ways many people clean their ears. Consumer Reports’ experts put their ears to the ground to find out what the safest methods are for removing earwax.
Consumer Reports saw a high interest in the topic, looked into it, and found a wide range of products that made us wonder how a consumer should approach all this.
There’s “candling,” in which a waxed fabric tube is inserted into the ear, and when it’s lit, the heat supposedly draws debris from inside the ear.
You can buy miniature scoops to clean out your ears; some even come equipped with a camera so you can view what’s happening on your phone.
Maybe you’ve seen the soft, drill-shaped devices that manufacturers say you can use to twist the wax out of your ear canal. Or the one that looks like a wire whisk.
Which one should you buy? Maybe none, according to emergency room physician Dr. Mauricio Gonzalez.
“We do not recommend any clearing with any devices or in any shape or form,” Gonzalez said.
As for candling, the Food and Drug Administration says to “stay away” and has warned consumers of the risk of burns or injury to the inner ear.
Do you really need to remove earwax? Doctors say it actually helps limit bacteria in your ears.
If you have hardened wax, or your body produces an unusual amount, you can use over-the-counter eardrops to soften it and make it easier to wash out. But most people don’t have to do anything at all.
“Every time you chew and you move your jaw, this movement by itself expels the excess of ear wax out of your ears. If you feel like there’s something in your outer canal, a light cloth should be more enough. Especially after taking a shower,” Gonzalez said.
While we’re on the topic of earwax, Consumer Reports advises cleaning the wax out of your listening devices, like earbuds, once a month. It will keep them less “gross,” and your headphones might actually last longer. Use a paper clip or soft toothbrush for the detail work.