Most people grow up believing that cotton swabs are the most effective way to clean the ears, and will regularly use Q-tips to clear wax buildups. Ask any audiologist for their opinion, though, and they will tell you to STOP. Stop right now!

When cleaning the ears with a cotton swab, the fact that you’ll probably see a little yellow wax can make you feel that the desired outcome has been accomplished. In reality, though, this is one of the most common mistakes that people continue to make with regards to their health. Here’s why.

The ears are self-cleaning

Studies show that only 1 in 20 adults actually suffers from excessive wax. While that figure does increase to 1 in 10 for children, it’s still probable that your ears are perfectly fine. One of the main reasons is that they actively clean themselves.

The human body is incredibly smart, not least where the ears are concerned. As such, dirt and wax will naturally be pushed away from the drum and canal towards the outer ear. This is because the skin naturally grows that way, making it one of the main reasons to avoid using cotton swabs as part of your daily ritual.

So, why cleaning the lobe and other parts of the outer ear with warm water and a damp cloth is advised, there usually isn’t any reason to push anything into the canal.

You could cause more harm than good

Using a cotton swab may pick up a little wax, and this can provide a temporary relief from discomfort and tinnitus symptoms. In truth, though, this method of cleaning will usually be counterproductive in the bid to maintain healthy ears.

Cotton swabs are small enough to fit in the ear but are more than half the size of your canal. This consequently means that the majority of the wax touched will end up being pushed deeper into the canal. This can lead to ear drum perforations and may see tinnitus symptoms grow.

Besides, if you have another issue such as an infection, this will only aggravate the problem. If you feel that the ears genuinely need a clean, speak to an audiologist about irrigation.

It’s damaging the planet too

You wouldn’t necessarily think it due to the coverage that is given to bottles and other items. However, cotton swabs are the most common item found on the beaches. Frankly, your daily ear cleaning rituals are only adding to the problem.

When suffering from ear wax issues and you don’t want to see an audiologist, using drop to soften the wax can be a far better alternative. Follow this with tilting the head and using a little water to flush wax from the ear, and you’ll see far better results than the cotton swab option. The fact that you’ll help the planet too is simply a bonus.

So, by now you should see that cotton swabs are ineffective and could cause damage to your body as well as your environment. If that doesn’t encourage you to steer clear, nothing will.