Cleaning Earwax Buildup for Tinnitus

Excess ear wax can cause tinnitus by blocking sound. Anything that interferes with sound transmission can either cause hearing loss or start neural circuits chattering due to a lack of stimulation. When neural circuits stop receiving signals because of impacted ear wax, they respond and become hyperactive.  Your confused brain tries to interpret the activity as sounds like ringing, whistling, hissing or buzzing. Tinnitus! What does this mean for you?

Simply put, removing ear wax may cure your tinnitus. Wax naturally forms in your ear to keep out debris and protect your inner ear from infection. Usually, extra wax steadily works its way to the outer ear on its own, where a face cloth easily removes it. Sometimes, however, ear wax builds up, becomes hard, and impacts or gets stuck. Causes of impacted ear wax include using Q-tips and earphones, among other things.  

Removing Ear Wax 

Diagram of the inner ear being cleaned out of earwax for tinnitus

To remove excess or impacted ear wax, you can go to your doctor or use home remedies. Earwax removal can be done at home with ear drops and warm water irrigation.

There are several substances you can use to break up ear wax: 

  • Hydrogen Peroxide*
  • Baby Oil
  • Mineral Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Glycerin

If you use one of the oils, it helps to warm it up a little. You can hold a small bottle in your hand to warm it or immerse a larger container in hot water for a minute or so.

If you have never used ear drops, learn more about how. Tilt your head to one side and gently pull your outer ear up and back. Use a dropper to squeeze 3 or 4 drops into your ear. The liquid will help to soften the ear wax. Keep your head tilted or lie on your side for 5 minutes before turning over and draining the drops out onto a towel. The wax will not come out all at once.  You can repeat the procedure daily for up to 14 days. 

*If you use peroxide, some water could be left in your ear after treatment. Experts recommend putting a couple of drops of rubbing alcohol into the ear and draining it to prevent an infection.

Warm Water Irrigation

An image showing how to remove ear wax by using warm water (warm water irrigation)

For faster results and to remove stubborn ear wax at home, use warm water irrigation. After you have used a few drops of hydrogen peroxide or oil to soften and loosen ear wax, you can use a rubber bulb syringe to irrigate the ear with warm water.

Fill the syringe with water and squirt out a small amount to eliminate air. Tilt your head to the side and gently pull your ear straight back so that your ear canal straightens. Holding the tip of the syringe about ¼” from your ear, gently squeeze the bulb to squirt in some warm water. Lie with your ear on a towel and pull down your earlobe to drain the water out completely. Be sure to dry your outer ear thoroughly. You can put a few drops of alcohol into your ear and drain that to help get all the water out. 

Using a basic ball syringe and towel works fine, but you can also use an ear wax removal kit. Irrigation kits can be easily purchased over the counter and generally include a spray bottle, tubing, several tips, and a drainage container you can hold under your ear.

Ear Wax Removal Tools

An image showing a tool used by doctors to reach in and pull ear wax out

Doctors can use special tools to reach in and pull ear wax out because they have a lighted scope and can clearly see what they are doing. Using most tools at home can be dangerous, but there are some products available that are safe.

Spiral Swabs can help remove the wax you have dislodged with the use of drops or irrigation. You can safely insert the pointed spiral of soft silicon into your ear and twist it in the indicated direction so that it picks up loosened ear wax. Kits come with multiple disposable tips.

Removing Ear Wax to Cure Tinnitus

An image showing the inner ear

If impacted ear wax blocks sound signals in your ear, removing it could be the easiest and fastest solution to your tinnitus.  Your doctor can remove the wax, or you can use drops to soften ear wax and warm water to clear it from your ears, all from the comfort of your home.

As always, we recommend consulting a medical professional before doing anything, but these solutions should help give you a good overview of how you can clean earwax buildup to treat tinnitus. Hopefully, one of these remedies helps!

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Best of luck on your journey to better hearing!


Susan Wright

Senior Editor, Audien Hearing Protection Status