42 answers

How Do You Clean a Young Child's Ears?

I recently took my 5 year old stepdaughter to the doctors, and her ears were so bad she needed to clean then out with a little wire loop! The amount of buildup in her ears astounded me, especially since I clean them regularly! I clean her ears twice a week with Q-tips, but I think they may be too big for her small ears, since I can only get the tip in before she tells me it hurts. There are tons of ear wax remover kits I saw at the drugstore, but I wasn't sure if any of them were safe for kids, or how well they worked. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have!

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Featured Answers

Hey S.,
I didn't get through all 41 previous posts, so if this is the same as a pp.. then I apologize. My oldest gets a lot of buildup from time to time. One of my peds suggested using sweeet oil to loosen it, you get it from behind the pharmacy, and it costs like $3.00, lasts forever and works well. Just place a couple of drops in her ear every once in a while and you should see an improvement.

Hope that helps
Kim

S.,
I agree with everyone saying not to use Q-Tips in the ear. I also agree with cleaning the ear with warm water, but I have not seen the suggestion for the way my doctor suggested to do it. (My daughter has the same problem and I have actually gone into the doctor because her ear was bothering her only to have it be only wax buildup.) The doctor suggested that I rinse her ears with water while I was washing her hair. This has worked well for us, for the past 6 months I have been using the shower head and gently rinsing her ears about once a week and we have not had any more problems.
Good-Luck!
~ B.

My daughter has the same issue, she makes a lot of earwax. Her pediatrician recommended putting a few drops of ERO (or other earwax removal drops) into her ears once a week. It works well and she has not had build-up again. The ped also recommended not to use Qtips since it could push the wax up against the eardrum. Hope this is helpful!

More Answers

My daughter had the same problem, just not as severe. I use half strength peroxide. (half warm water and half peroxide) Make sure the solution is tepid. Don't put cold water in her ear or you will affect her balance.We used a bulb syringe and put it in her ear when she was in the bath tub and let it run out her ear. That loosened everything up so it came out on it's own. We did it nightly for a couple of weeks and the next time she went to the doctor, her ears were clean. Now we only do it once a month. I wouldn't use a Q tip because you could actually push the ear wax or cerumen further down the ear canal. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

I wanted to send you this information - I remember that on one of Oprah's episodes with Doctor Oz - this same question came up and I copied it down for you, this is what he recommends - hope this helps...
What is earwax?

Are you like the 85 percent of respondents to an Oprah.com poll who said they use cotton swabs to clean their ears? Dr. Oz says you may as well be "taking a muzzle-loader and shoving it in there."

"Wax is the sweat that the body deposits in the ear lining," he says. "When our ancestors were walking along in the sub-Saharan desert, the dust would get caught like an insect trap and prevent it from getting into your eardrum. When you take this cotton swab and you start shoving that wax into your eardrum, you risk not only blocking off the pathway, but you also risk perforating—making a hole—in your eardrum which is just a millimeter thick."

If you have an excessive buildup of earwax and want to get rid of it, Dr. Oz suggests using "a little mineral oil, drop it in there, it will melt it, and it will come out by itself. You don't have to go plunging in there."

So what are you supposed to be using those cotton swabs in your medicine cabinet for anyway? "Taking off makeup," Dr. Oz says.

1 mom found this helpful

Well, what I'm saying really isn't what hasn't already been said in the other posts but here it goes. When I was younger with lots of ear infections, my doctor told my mother half water, half peroxide and a few drops in my ears would loosen up the wax and then wash them out with a warm water bath. Also, when my daughter was born, I bought specially made Q-tips for infants. They have a lot more cotton on the end of it and a little bulb sticking off of the end (the cotton is in the shape of a pear) and this prevents the Q-tip from going into the ear canal (because I was always worried about that). So, a lot of people say no to Q-tips but if your preference is to use them, I'd say go for these ones specially made for infants. I got them at Walmart. I hope this helps and good luck! :-)

Hey S.,
I didn't get through all 41 previous posts, so if this is the same as a pp.. then I apologize. My oldest gets a lot of buildup from time to time. One of my peds suggested using sweeet oil to loosen it, you get it from behind the pharmacy, and it costs like $3.00, lasts forever and works well. Just place a couple of drops in her ear every once in a while and you should see an improvement.

Hope that helps
Kim

I had an ENT tell me once that q-tips were like cigarettes, bad for the user, but good for doctors because they bring in business. He also told me to use peroxide and that was all they needed. When my little one had an ear infection and he had lots of junk in the ear, they were never concerned about it unless they could not see the ear drum. Like others have said, ears are naturally self cleaning. I only remove ear wax if I can see it coming out and I think that is the general rule.

All children get waxy build up in their ears. It is my understanding that you should never insert a q tip into the inner canal of a child's ears to clean them or anything else. I would talk to your pediatrician but chances are you do not need to take any action.

I agree with the lady who said the peroxide is not a great idea. I have been to an ENT for problems with my own ears. I would get ear infections ALL the time that hurt so bad I was in awful pain. The Dr told me to quit using Q tips to clean my ears. Who would have thought? That's what everyone does, right?

Well, the q tips actually push stuff farther down into the ear, which can cause a build up and infection/irritation. Ear wax is actually good for your ears and it's their way of protecting them.

I followed the Drs advice, and I have not had one ear infection since then, and it's been years! If I do feel a little earache coming on, I use a wonderful homeopathic product you can get at Walgreens called Similisan ear drops. It takes away my ache in a day. My ears often will ache if I have a cold or around allergy season.

As far as cleaning the ears, what I do for my children (ages 4 and 1) is every few days when they're in the bath, I wring out the washcloth and gently wipe out their ears and behind them. Once every week or so there will be visible wax there in the ear, and I take a damped baby swab and scoop it out. I do NOT stick it in their ear as this can damage the ear canal. Neither of my children have ever had an ear infection. Every time they go to the Dr, he says how perfect their ears look.

I hope this helps!

I myself can't stand wax in my ears, it drives me crazy.
I have 3 grandchildren and my oldest granddaughter has sensitive ears and doesn't like to have them touched. The way I like to clean them is to pour very warm water in our ears at bath time. Have her lean her head to the side and pour the water in then have her turn her head to the other side and let it run back out. The warm water melts the wax and it runs out. Do this several times to each ear. I made a game out of it with my grand daughter while we were washing her hair. She didn't like it at first, but after a few times she knew what to do so now she asks to do it.
I take a Q-tip and gently dry the ears afterward.
Sometimes with my ears I wet one end of the Q-tip with hot water and clean the ear and dry with the other end.
This works for us. Good luck and God bless! K. L

My son, age 6, also has excessive wax build-up, even though his ears are regularly cleaned. He too has experienced the wire loop and it is no fun. I have never tried the over the couter remedies but, about once a month, I take equal parts of peroxide and room temperature water, mix them and put three drops (with an eye dropper) in each ear. It makes a popping noise but now that he is older, he doesn't mind. When he was smaller, I put the drops in his ear when he was asleep. It loosens the wax right up. Our pediatrician also said that using Q-tips can compact the wax even more, so be careful to only wipe the wax outside of the ear opening. Hope that helps.

Hi there,
To clean her ears I would first stop using Q-tips this is only pushing the build up in her ears. Use peroxide in both her ears to clean them. Do one ear at a time, let it stay in her each ear for at least 5 mins. In addition, it will come to a boil bringing any build up to surface. Hope this helps. Good luck and God bless.

I had a similar situation with my son they recommended using 1/2 warm water 1/2 peroxide and putting 2-3 drops in the ears once every few days or so. I also found out Q-tips are a big NO especially for little ones because it pushes the wax down into the ear canal. You should use a warm wash cloth to clean the ear then the warm water/peroxide mix for the inside of the ear. You may want to talk to you Pediatrician first but that is what my sons Pediatrician recommended. Hope this helps!

Please don't use the Q tips. THey will only push the wax in further. My 21 month old has never had any ear problems and the pediatrician always comments on how clean her ears are. I use my pinky finer which has the shortest fingernail to just scoop out. You will not damage anything by doing that.

my grandmom always said to never stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Unless it is causing hearing problems dont use qtips in ears only one the outside. Let a doctor get the stuff inside.

My 18 month old has the same problem. They say q-tips can make it worse b/c they push the wax in further. Try mixing warm water with Hydrogen Peroxide and putting a few drops in each ear every night. She needs to keep her head to the side for a few seconds so they seep in. This is what my dr. recommended! Good luck.

Our pediatrician told us to use a medicine dropper and put peroxide in our son's ears at bath time. Just drop it in and the stuff will run right out. We do it on occasion and his ears have been clean every time we've gone back to the doctor. :)

I would use ear wax candles. The can be found at any natural food store or drug store in the homeopathic section. Basically, the candle creates a vacuum and sucks the ear wax out of the ear without having to use a Q-tip which pushes the wax further down the ear. You will need to explain to your daughter what you're doing because the candle will be lit so you don't want to scare her. It is completely painless and safe on a child. They are a little pricy ($12/candle) but well worth it and you won't have to go to the doctor to have the wax removed.

They have this ear wax remover stuff at walmart called Debrox. My kids had tubes put in their ears 2 years ago and you are NOT to put it in their ears if they have tubes but my daughters tube came out of her left ear so I used it the other day to remove some of the wax. The tube is lose in her ear (the hole is closed up) but the wax is holding the tube in there so I thought if I could get rid of the wax it would finally fall out. The doctor recommended it. I saw the wax come to the tip of her ear but not quite out. I figure it will fall out in a few days. The doctors say do NOT use q-tips in their ears, you are actually pushing the wax further in. Over time it is going to get built up so really you are better off NOT using q-tips at all even if you don't use the wax remover. I hope this helps!

I studied Audiology in school and any audiologist will tell you that qtips are thing to avoid. They are fine for cleaning the outter part of the ear but you should never stick them into your ear canal. A lot of times all they will do is push the ear wax farther into the ear. This could be the case with your daughter, they may be so much build up because it is being pushed in everytime you try and clean with a qtip. Ear wax will naturally secrete itself out of the ear. I know it seems gross not to try and clean it out (I can't even take my own advise, I always use qtips) but you may try just not cleaning it out for a while and see if it comes out naturally (thats what the human body is designed to do). Just be careful with earwax removing kits, some of them may be dangerous.

My (adult) sister actually has had the "water torture" method of having a doctor clean out her ears. She's been told repeatedly that all of the OTC stuff does pretty much nothing, and to not use Q-tips. You're not supposed to clean out your ears. Wax is there for a reason. If the build-up gets bad, you're much better off having a professional do it so there's less potential of causing damage. That being said, I love Q-tips :)

When I have noticed that my son's ears are grotty I will give him the safety qtip and let him clean. He's 3 and has been doing this for a year or so - we call it "drying his ears".

He does a good job, and the doc has always said his ears look good. It gives him some control and he won't push it too far because he can tell when it gurts.

I use peroxide in my ears - it's kind of cool cuz you can hear it bubbling. However, if there's a lot of wax you have to be careful because sometimes pockets of wax can hold peroxide and then it can get irritated when it doesn't all flush out. If you start it just after her ears were cleaned then it should be all right.

H.

one way you can clean her ear is to take luke warm water and a bulbus thing (usually used to clear a babys nose) and a bowl.

spray the warm water into her ear, and let it drain into the bowl

repeat that a couple of times, (5 or 6) and maybe only clean like that once a month.

also try looking in the babay isle in the store for q-tips some of them are different sizes.
hope this helps

Q tips are not to be used inside the ear canal. This actually pushes ear wax into her ear canal and gets impacted. Ears are generally "self cleaning" on the inside, you only need to use Q tips to remove things from the upper portion of the external ear. I would try leaving her ear alone, and see if that clears up the problem before trying anything else.

I am amazed that the pediatrician did not advise you on this matter. If she/he did not I think I would consider locating a new pediatrician. First of all, a Q-tip should NEVER be used inside anyones ear. It is for the outside exposed areas only. Putting it inside only packs the wax in making it harder to remove. There are so many wax removal products out there it is mind boggling. Go to your local pharmacy and talk with the Pharmacist on duty. They have the scoop on these things.

My oldest has the same problem and my pediatrician said to do warm water and peroxide rinses to help loosen and remove build up. Good luck!

K. - sahm of 2 boys, 5 and 2

My daughter has the same issue, she makes a lot of earwax. Her pediatrician recommended putting a few drops of ERO (or other earwax removal drops) into her ears once a week. It works well and she has not had build-up again. The ped also recommended not to use Qtips since it could push the wax up against the eardrum. Hope this is helpful!

This is a common problem. Some people have hard earwax that doesn't naturally ooze out - both my husband and father are like this. It presents problems b/c it clogs the ear. My husband uses a couple of things for it - over the counter eardrops, water irrigation and oil drops. All are pretty effective. She's perfectly normal.

And, finally, NEVER USE QTIPS in the ear!

Hello,
There are a lot of ear drop medicines on the market but our doctor told us to use a tiny drop of olive oil in the ear and the wax will work it's way out. She recomended a small drop in the ear when the child is asleep to make sure it gets in. My daughter had so much ear wax the doctor couldn't see in her ear canal so she recommended we do this simple fix.

I actually prefer to do it when the kids are awake as I don't want to risk waking them up. I have my daughter tilt her head and I use a medicine dropper to administer one drop of oil. Then I have her sing a short song while keeping her head to the side to make sure it goes in, (twinkle twinkle etc). Then she sprints off to play and the wax will be out by bathtime that night. That's how I have done it with my daughter since she was 2, with my infant son, it is more drop it in and then distract him. He is not a fan of it, but it works! Please be sure your child is not allergic to olives. I realize this is a rare possablity, but these days it is better to mention it.
Good luck

I would try ear candleing. Check with your local spa and see if they can do that on a child that young. However, never put q-tips in her ear. All that does is push the wax farther into the ear. Something else I do for my kids is that while they are in the bath and after I have washed their hair, the moisture and heat will soften any wax on the outside. Take a small cloth and wipe her ears.

Good luck

I was surprised to see how many responses included the use of peroxide. I was told never to use peroxide after I personally had a problem. My ears felt "clogged" so I had my husband put straight peroxide in my ears. It bubbled like crazy and in a couple of hours I was in EXTREME pain. I had an ear infectiona I didn't know it and the peroxide had worked it way behind my ear drum. The peroxide worked on the infection back there creating extreme pressure and my ear drum ruptured. Please listen to the advice of letting mother nature take it's course and not trying clean inside the ears.

we were told never to clean child's ears. we were told that it comes out on its own and sometimes the ped. needs to clean it but that's it. although the previous poster had a good idea too. my thing is, i am very afraid about causing hearing loss therefore nothing goes into my girls' ears :)

I have 3 small boys and my husband is a fanatic about cleaning their ears. So I asked our pediatrician about cleaning ears. Our doc recommended taking a plastic bulb (like you use to suction out a baby nose) and filling it with warm soapy water (like bath water) and squeezing it into the child's ears once a week. That should loosen the wax that's building up without damaging the ear. Then just use Q-tip to wick away wax on the outmost part of the ear - not internally where you can actually compact wax that's there. Those ear wax removal kits are ok, but if you've just had her ears cleaned at the doc's office with a loop, you just need weekly cleaning maintenance.
Hope this helps!

Hello, I have 6 year old daughter and have always done what you do to clean her ears. But I personally have always had a problem with too much build up of earwax and when I mentioned this to my daughter's Pediatrician, this is what she said. She said that periodically she uses plain old Peroxide in her kids ears. She says most of the products on the market for earwax are mostly peroxide and that it has always worked good on her kid's ears. So if her ears are still clogged up, I would lay your daughter down on her side and pour a little peroxide in her ear, let it settle and fiz up for a while then wipe off the excess and do the other ear. Then the next time she takes a bath, pour a little capful in her ear to maintain it. If she just had the excess removed then you can just maintain it this way. Good Luck !!

You NEVER clean a child's ear. All that wax that is deeply embedded is probably because you pushed it in there with Q-Tips. Wax is the bodies way of trapping particles. I am very surprised you doctor didn't tell you that. Take her to an ENT every six months if she needs cleaning, but stop those Q-tips now!

I have three children and have had this same issue, as my children are wax factories. I have been told by numerous pediatricians not to use q-tips in their ears. Wax-remover kits are safe to use for kids (cant remember the certain brand, ask your pediatrician), but not to be used on all the time. I recommend asking your pediatrician for the brand and how often to use. On another note, they do make pediatric q-tips for childrens ears; which may give you another option as well.:)

I have been told by my pediatrician never to insert Q-tips into a child's ear. If they make a sudden movement it could damage their ear drums. I have the same problem with my 4 month old. The doctor recommends 3 drops weekly of a product called "Debrox" which is available over the counter. You may need an extra drop for you daughter since she is older.

Hi S., I used to work in the Navy Hospitals when I was a sailor. I remember hearing the doctors tell all their patients never to stick anything larger than your elbow in your ear, but even after all that training, I still use qtips on myself and my babies. I think it's really a matter of technique. Most people end up just jamming the excess ear wax up against the eardrum which is painful in itself. If she likes to take warm baths, ask her to lay down with her ears submerged in the warm water to help melt the earwax. Also when using qtips, make sure to angle the qtip around the edges of the ears not straight in. Also I just bought a ear wash syringe from walgreens for my babies. I plan on using half peroxide and half warm water to flush my babies ears when neccessary. Good luck

Q-tips push all the dead skin and earwax back into the ear. My suggestion is to go to a natural food store ask the clerk for some ear oil to help drain excess. Ear Candleling is another method to look into.

Some people have suggested ear candling. Think twice about that. I offer ear candling as part of my massage practice, but I'd hesitate to perform it on a 5 year-old. My biggest concern would be getting her to lie still so that it works effectively and safely.

If you decide to go ahead with it, ask ahead of time if you'll still be required to pay if your daughter freaks out a minute into the process. The spa where I worked charged $85, which is a lot to throw away on an aborted ear candling. It might help to have her see you do it first, so that she sees it's OK (and you know it's OK); again, ask in advance if you'll have to pay for two ear candlings in that case.

C.

S.,
I agree with everyone saying not to use Q-Tips in the ear. I also agree with cleaning the ear with warm water, but I have not seen the suggestion for the way my doctor suggested to do it. (My daughter has the same problem and I have actually gone into the doctor because her ear was bothering her only to have it be only wax buildup.) The doctor suggested that I rinse her ears with water while I was washing her hair. This has worked well for us, for the past 6 months I have been using the shower head and gently rinsing her ears about once a week and we have not had any more problems.
Good-Luck!
~ B.

You should start using some ear drops for her. There are ones that are safe for even young children. My doctor told me to use a mixture of 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and water, and put 3-4 drops in my daughter's ears 2-3 times a week, and then slow down to 1-2 times a week. Definitely ask your doctor to recommend something for you daughter!

I have heard that using q-tips is like packing a gun - it just pushes it further in causing more build up. I have heard that it's best to leave and it will come out on its own. I have found this to be true with my boys. If there is extra build up there are homeopathy drops that work well, too.

I would not clean her ears. If she has not had her 5 yr check up, I would let the doctor do it then.

From my doctor visit this year, I learned that cleaning inside the ear should not be part of a child's cleanliness routine. By using a q-tip, you are actually forcing the way deeper into her ear.

If you feel compelled to clean your daughters' ear, then use one of the drug store ear drops.

I hope this helps.

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