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Q-Tips Should Not Be Used to Clean Ears

Here's a Tip: Ditch the Q-Tips

The package of Q-tips plainly reads, "Do not insert swab into ear canal. Entering the ear canal could cause injury." Yet despite warnings written directly on the package as well as from doctors, a lot of people are still using cotton swabs — yup, I'm talking about you. In the future you may want to be careful or ditch them altogether, since Q-tips can severely damage your ear canal if pushed in too far. What's more? Along with potentially rupturing the membrane, the swab is likely to push wax deeper into the ear canal rather than removing it — even if a little shows up on the cotton.

Need more evidence? Daniel St-Pierre, 43. Coroner Jacques Ramsay found the man died of complications linked to an ear infection probably caused by the use of cotton swabs that pierced the eardrum. Even more? A boy who had been partially deaf for nine years was suddenly cured — when a cotton wool bud from a Q-tip popped out of his ear. Crazy, right? Point is, don't put a Q-tip in your ear, you'll be doing way more harm than good.

If you still feel like you need to clean out those ears, there are some tips for that so


According to WebMD, most people don't need to do any ear maintenance at all. Earwax slowly moves toward the opening of the ear canal and is sloughed off during daily routines and showers. If you want, you can take a washcloth and, using your finger, gently wash the opening of your ear.

If you're someone, like my best friend, who produces unusually large amounts of earwax and your ear canal keeps getting clogged, you may need to see your doctor occasionally to have it removed. Some people swear by ear candling, but the debate is still up on whether or not it even works.


Join The Conversation
Louis14762804 Louis14762804 4 years
A friend asks, "If you don't use Q Tips in your ear canal where do you use them?" :)
Mr-Obvious Mr-Obvious 4 years
Hmm what next?Are you going to tell us it's dangerous to wear headphones???
tjzchouse tjzchouse 9 years
You can tell when the Q-Tip is too deep in your own ear by sensation. I've never used a Q-Tip on my children's ears--I use alcohol swabs (the little square ones, like for shots)for my kids and myself. I don't even think there are any Q-Tips in the house.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
I used to go without using q-tips. I have abnormally narrow/windy ear canals though that get blocked off easily though. I have to go to the ENT all the time to get my hearing clear again. A doctor I went to one time told me to use q-tips. I was skeptical, but like most people have been saying in the comments, he said just use common sense and don't shove them too deep in your ears.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Yea, i agree with most everyone here, why dont you just not jam it in there like your searching for a lost olive.
julieulie julieulie 9 years
For some reason, I always have a problem with my ears getting clogged with earwax following scuba diving. Maybe the pressure jams it all in there? All I know is that when I go to the doctor to have the earwax flushed out, they always tell me not to use the Q-tip, and there must be a reason for it. I just make sure to always dry the water out of my ear following a shower with a hairdryer or the eardrops, and never have a problem with earwax except when I go diving (which unfortunately isn't that frequently).
gaelgirl gaelgirl 9 years
ever look at someone & you can see gobbs of earwax? no thanks! just be gentle & don't get those cheap ones.
brielleblonde brielleblonde 9 years
this reminds me of the scene in the movie prime!
Merlin713 Merlin713 9 years
My Mom always told me not to stick anything smaller than my elbow in my ear....... I use Q-Tips everyday. I have to! I barely stick it in my ear, and I mostly go around the little folds on my ears because they are so small. I can't stand the feeling of water stuck in there. It's so annoying.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I am another self-admitted Q-tip addict. I clean my ears with them every day and I think I'd go nuts if I didn't remove that gunk. My husband is exactly the opposite; he never cleans his ears until they itch like crazy, then he scrapes the gunk out with a pen. Gross. That's gotta be less safe than a Q-tip.
Blackthorne Blackthorne 9 years
I have dermatitis in my right ear that makes the skin grow way fast and peel and flake off - same idea as dandruff. I would go nuts without qtips. My doc tells me to be kinder to my ear canal so now i do it after a shower. Ear lovage is not fun.
EllasMom EllasMom 9 years
I usually don't need them unless I've been sick and my ears get really clogged, then I use ear candles. I get GREAT results with them, but you should never use them when you are by yourself.
emalove emalove 9 years
I'm 30 years old and never had an issue with Q-tips. I just don't push it in that far! Seems like common sense to me. I'm going to keep on using them...
nancita nancita 9 years
I was about to say "you know I've heard you're not supposed to put qtips in your ear, but you never hear about it actually hurting anyone!" Then I read the part about the guy who died. Ok, I believe you. I will continue my avoidance of Qtips.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
I'm with you other addicts out there...not a day goes by (not even when I'm camping) that I don't use a Q-Tip to clean out my ears. Sometimes twice a day, ESPECIALLY if I'm just out of the shower. I've had ear infections before, so I'm super careful about not putting the Q-Tip too deep into my ear canal (duh). It doesn't seem like rocket science...there isn't much blocking the Q-Tip from important parts inside your head...maybe you shouldn't shove it in too far?
kiddylnd kiddylnd 9 years
Another addict here! I feel so dirty if I don't clean 'em out every day (sometimes more than once). It started when I was in 5th grade and some girl screamed out to the class that I had wax in my ears. My son also gets HORRIBLE wax that we have to clean out (must get it from his Momma!). I dip the Q-Tip into Hydrogen Peroxide and let it fizz up and clean that way. It brings a lot of the gunk to the front of the canal making it easier to clean out. Side note - when my kid was almost 4 he got a foreign object stuck in his ear. We cleaned with Q-Tips regularly and nothing until one day he complained of pain. After going to our GP, and a child ENT, he had to have it SURGICALLY REMOVED because it was in so far. They said that using the Q-Tips DID NOT cause it to go in further but that when we cleaned it was painful because the object was ALREADY up against the drum.
DeviousMuse DeviousMuse 9 years
Yeah, using a Q-tip to clean the water out of my ears after a shower is part of my morning ritual. I can't stand the feeling of water in my ears... plus, I used to get lots of ear infections as a kid from swimming so much in the summer and the water getting in there, so when my mom started using Q-tips to get rid of the water after a day at the pool, the ear infections stopped happening. And I concur with Gatsby - this is the result of a lawsuit, not unlike the McDonald's coffee one. Some idiot shoved a Q-tip down through their ear canal, suffered self-inflicted damage, and wanted to blame the company for his inability to have common sense and not impale his brain on a Q-tip.
genvessel genvessel 9 years
"You're supposed to stop the qtip when you hit resistance!" - Chandler Bing chandler = fount of wisdom and knowledge
steen steen 9 years
I really only use the Q-tip on the outer park of my ear canal, like, right near the tragus.
Tutta Tutta 9 years
I'm with ashcwebb, I'm an addict. If I don't do it when I get out of the shower, it bothers me!
Dana18 Dana18 9 years
I love my q-tip and are carefull not to go to deep.
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