Short answer: nothing. When it comes to your ears, you should not have to put anything into them. The most common reason why people put stuff into their ears is to clean them. Many people like to use q-tips, but even something small like that should not go in your ears. Your ears are self-cleaners; that means that you do not have to take extra measures to take your earwax out. Everyone is supposed to have it, “earwax also acts as a filter. It prevents harmful things like bugs, sand, and dirt from getting into our ears and to the ear drum. It’s also antimicrobial. Earwax has substances in it that prevent infections from entering the body” ( Production of earwax depends on the individual. People who use hearing aids or headphones tend to produce more earwax than those who do not use those devices. It is hard for you to tell how much earwax you have, so using something like a q-tip could put earwax further back into your ear canal which can cause damage.

What is earwax?

Earwax, also known by the medical term, cerumen, is made up of dirt, skin cells, and sebum. It is produced in the outer 1/3 of the ear canal by glands. Earwax typically does not move past the outer portion. The use of q-tips pushes the earwax further back into the canal. So far back that you forget it is there. Over time the wax hardens, and there is enough buildup it can cause you to notice changes in your hearing. An audiologist or hearing care professional can tell if you use a q-tip but the depth of the earwax and the consistency of it. The harder the earwax the longer it has been in there.

So how can I get earwax out?

Most nurses, physician’s assistants, hearing care professionals, and audiologists are all able to remove earwax. Hearing care professionals and audiologists are the likely choices due to these professionals knowing more about the structure of the ear and having more tools. There are three main methods to take out earwax: suction, irrigation, and the use of an ear pick. “Caution is advised to avoid having your ears irrigate if you have diabetes. A perforated eardrum, tube in the eardrum, or a weekend immune system” ( It is good to ask your provider what method they use, so you can properly prepare.

Earwax is natural! Let it come out on its own or seek professional help. If you or a loved one have ear or hearing difficulty, please contact your local audiologist or hearing care professional today!