Are you having trouble hearing? Or did you push that cotton bud too far this time? Wax build-up is common and care has to be taken when cleaning your ears.

What is ear wax?

Ear wax, also known as cerumen, is not only normal, it’s necessary. Ear wax has both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and protects the ears from things that could hurt the eardrum.

However too much wax can block your ears and cause temporary hearing loss or infections. Some people will need their ears cleaned if they produce too much wax.

Some factors that can affect how much ear wax you produce are:

  • Previous ear surgery or trauma
  • Small ear canals
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Wearing hearing aids or earphones

How do I get ear wax out of my ears?

If ear wax is bothering you, there are really only two options I recommend:

1. Over-the-counter ear cleaning drops from a pharmacy

Over-the-counter ear cleaning drops are safe and simple to use, and work well in cleaning small amounts of wax from your ears.

2. Make an appointment with an ear nurse for removal of ear wax with Microsuction

Microsuction is process where a nurse will use a special tool to suck the wax from your ears. It can be a little unpleasant, but it is one of the safest methods for cleaning the ear.

For people in Canterbury I recommend Ear Health Canterbury.

How can I avoid ear wax buildup?

There are two methods I suggest to avoid ear wax build up in your ears:

  1. Cotton Buds/swabs: These can actually make things worse as the tip can push ear wax in deeper and you may rupture or damage your eardrum if you push too far.
  2. Ear wax removal candles: These don’t work and can cause permanent damage

I have hearing aids, will they cause wax buildup?

If you wear hearing aids, it is important that you check your device(s) every day for wax accumulation. Be sure to remove any wax from your device and ensure microphones etc are not blocked.

Refer to your hearing aid manual for instructions on how to clean your hearing aids.


Looking after your ears is important to ensure they are healthy and hearing optimally. If you have trouble with wax in your ears you should seek professional advice from your doctor. They will likely recommend either drops to clean your ears or microsuction from an ear health clinic.