Why You Should Not Use Cotton Buds To Remove Ear Wax

  • By Peter Byrom
  • 21 March 2022
  • 3 minutes 10:57am

Ear wax is a natural secretion produced by the glands in the ear canal. Its purpose is to protect the ear from bacteria, dust, and other debris. While it is normal to have some ear wax in your ears, sometimes too much can be a problem. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain, or if you notice that your hearing is impaired, you may have an excess of ear wax. In this case, it may be necessary to remove the wax manually. Many people try to do this by using cotton buds, but this is not recommended!

Here at Peter Byrom, we have always specialised in offering ear wax removal services much safer than using cotton buds; we recommend choosing our services. If you would like more information, be sure to reach out to our team today, we will be more than happy to help you in any way we can.

Medical wax removal

Is Earwax Bad?

No, ear wax is not bad. It plays a vital role in protecting the ear from bacteria and other debris. However, if too much wax accumulates, it can cause discomfort or pain and impaired hearing.

Why do people remove ear wax?

There are two main reasons why people remove ear wax:

To relieve discomfort or pain – If you have too much ear wax, it can pressure the eardrum and cause pain. It can also make your ears feel full or itchy.

To improve hearing – If you have a lot of earwax and it is blocking your ear canal, it can impair your hearing.

Do Not Use Cotton Buds

Cotton buds are not the best option when removing ear wax. They can make the problem worse! Here’s why:

Push ear wax further down the ear canal

When you use a cotton bud to try and remove ear wax, you are just pushing it further down the ear canal. This can cause the wax to build up and become impacted. When your eardrum is impacted with ear wax, it can cause pain and hearing loss.

Damage to the ear canal

Cotton buds can also damage the delicate skin in the ear canal. This can lead to infection, inflammation, and even permanent hearing loss. If you damage the skin in your ear canal, it can take a long time to heal. In some cases, the damage may be irreversible.

Not environmentally friendly

Cotton buds are not environmentally friendly. They are made of cotton, which is a non-biodegradable material. When you throw them away, they will sit in landfills for years.

Better Alternatives to Cotton Buds!

There are better alternatives to cotton buds when removing ear wax. Here are a few:


Q-tips are a safer option than cotton buds. They have a soft, rounded tip that is less likely to damage the ear canal. They are biodegradable so that they won’t sit in landfills for years.

Ear drops

Many ear drops on the market can help to soften ear wax. This makes it easier to remove with a Q-tip or other soft, safe object.

Water irrigation

Water irrigation is a safe and effective way to remove ear wax. You will need a syringe or a bulb syringe filled with warm water. Gently squeeze the water into your ear and then let it drain out. Repeat this process a few times until the ear wax is gone.

Use a Professional

If you are experiencing discomfort or pain due to excess ear wax, it is best to see a professional. They will be able to remove the wax safely and effectively.

ear buds

Ear Wax Related Problems

There are a few other problems that can be caused by excess ear wax:


Tinnitus is the perception of sound without an external noise source. It can be caused by many things, including excessive ear wax.

Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s Ear is an infection of the outer ear canal. It is often caused by exposure to water and can result from excessive ear wax.


Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid bone located behind the ear. It can be caused by excessive ear wax or other infections in the ear. If you are experiencing any of these problems, it is best to see a doctor. They will be able to diagnose the problem and provide treatment.


What is earwax?

Ear wax is a natural secretion produced by the glands in the ear canal. Its purpose is to protect the ear from bacteria, dust, and other debris.

What are the symptoms of too much earwax?

If you have too much ear wax, you may experience discomfort or pain and impaired hearing.

Can I remove earwax at home?

There are many ways to remove ear wax at home, but cotton buds should not be one! There are safer and more effective options available.

When my earwax is brown, what does this mean?

Ear wax can be of different colours, depending on its composition. Brown ear wax usually means that there is a lot of dirt and dust.

Should I worry if my earwax is black?

Black ear wax may be a sign of an infection, so you should see a doctor if you notice this colouration.

Can ear wax cause tinnitus?

Yes, excessive ear wax can sometimes lead to tinnitus.

What does an ear infection feel like?

An ear infection can cause pain, swelling, and discharge from the ear. It is best to see a doctor if you think you may have an ear infection.

How can I prevent ear wax build-up?

There is no surefire way to prevent ear wax build-up, but some things that may help include: avoiding getting water in your ears, using a humidifier, and ear drops.

Can you use a tissue to clean your ears?

Tissue is not a safe option for cleaning your ears. It may cause damage to the ear canal and lead to infection.

Make An Appointment Today!

If you’re still using cotton buds to remove ear wax, STOP! You are risking damage to your ears, but you could also be pushing the wax further in and causing an obstruction. There are much safer and more effective ways to remove ear wax; our professional service at Peter Byrom can help with this. Get in touch today to book an appointment.

Remember, hearing loss can be irreversible, so it’s essential to get help as soon as possible! Our team at Peter Byrom have provided ear wax removal for several years in Sheffield and Chesterfield, perfect for anyone who needs help with ear wax build-up.

Peter Byrom is an Audiologist and Hearing Aid Dispenser who specialises in a range of Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensing services. Based in Sheffield he covers all of South Yorkshire including Chesterfield, Barnsley, and Rotherham. He is qualified with a Masters in Science (MSc) Advanced Practice and has over 25 years NHS (latterly as adult clinical lead) and 15 years private sector experience. He is registered with the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). His aim is to provide the best Audiology Service available to you.

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