There are so many people who routinely take time out of their day to clean their ears. But is it really necessary? Simply put, no it isn’t.

The intentions of cleaning your ears are normally good, but the reality of the situation is that you’re most likely doing more harm than good. The earwax you’re trying to get rid of is actually very important for your body. Earwax keeps the inside of the ears clean and dry by protecting the ears against dust, water, dirt and anything else that could possibly get in. Moreover, earwax wards off infection and bacteria. Left alone, the old earwax dries out and makes its way out of the ear unnoticed when we move our jaws to eat or talk.

Why shouldn’t you clean your ears?

Removing earwax disrupts the normal process of “self-cleaning” and leaves the ear susceptible to the outside world and illness. Not only does cleaning the earwax damage the ears, but it also makes the ears prone to hearing loss (especially if you use cotton swabs).

Q-tips, or any other cleaning product for that matter, that could be inserted into your ear, should be avoided at all costs. When we use cotton swabs, we feel as if we are removing earwax from our ears. However, we are actually pushing the earwax deeper into the parts of the ear that do not self-clean. This causes problems like ear blockage and pain. And worse, it could lead to loss of hearing. Thus, you should leave your ears alone and let them self-clean.

When should you clean your ears?

At times, our bodies do produce more earwax than other times. This is when we start to feel that we should clean our ears. However, once again, your ears can self-clean naturally or you can consult a doctor for removing the earwax for you.

More often than not, excessive earwax gives way to ear blockage. If you experience a feeling of fullness in the ear, dizziness, ear pain, ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or hearing loss, you might be experiencing ear blockage. Left untreated, your ears can develop an ear infection and you can start to experience severe ear pain, drainage and fever. If symptoms prevail, a visit to the doctor may be warranted. Your doctor will be able to look into your ears and use a special tool designed to remove earwax easily if need be.

How should you clean your ears?

For the times that you do need to clean your ears (when there’s an excess of earwax), you should do so after a shower when the earwax is melted and easy to remove. Mineral oil, three percent hydrogen peroxide and over-the-counter products can also be used to soften the earwax. You should only remove earwax that is on the outside of your ear by carefully swiping it clean with a cloth or cotton ball. If you insert anything any into the ear canal, you risk getting a blockage and even rupturing your eardrum.

Ears are capable of cleaning themselves — when you rush this process by trying to remove the earwax yourself, problems can occur. And the worst part is that cleaning is not even necessary. Save yourself a few minutes in the morning by altering your ear cleaning routine.