Rapid Ear Wax Removal with Water Pik – The Absolute Best Home Solution!

Have ear wax blockage? Can’t hear? Below is the best ear wax removal system in the world. Take it to your doc or nurse if you have any concerns. Share it on!

First, a warning: Never use the Water Pik if you have any ear pain. That usually means an infected ear canal. In that case, call your health care professional.

Next, a comment: Since I wrote this in 2011, several articles have been written to warn people against using Water Piks for ear cleaning. Some mention folks who have used them stupidly, at high pressure, causing ear pain or even eardrum perforation. You, of course, won’t use this amazing tool stupidly. So Just Ignore Those Articles, and read on!

I. The Best Solution for Rapid, Safe Ear Wax Blockage Removal – The Water Pik

WaterPikAquarius

Water Pik Aquarius

1. Buy a Plug-In Water Pik. I recommend the Aquarius (picture right) You can order it online in lots of colors. Pick one that you’ll like to look at (purple does it for me) because you’ll use this baby regularly, as you’ll see below. You can get the Aquarius  at Amazon for $65 (free shipping with Prime), at Walmart or Target for $50 or on eBay used for $40. You can get the Ultra (their older model) even cheaper, but the Ultra has a very irritating lid that tries to do two things at once (hold the tips and act as a lid) and ends up doing neither well. It’s no fun to open and fill. The Water Pik Sidekick ($130 on Amazon, since 2018) is even smaller, collapses for travel, and has a pressure dial with a sliding control (levels 1-5). It is a good but pricier alternative to the Aquarius. Unless you like ear pain, don’t get a cordless Water Pik, as all cordless models today have just two pressure settings, high and low. Low is still too strong for some folks to use in their ears. You need a Water Pik with a pressure dial that goes from 1 to 10 (or maybe, 11 🙂

2. Buy five or more bottles of 3% hydrogen peroxide water. Also at Target, or your local supermarket. These used to be just 50 cents a bottle in 2011. Now they are a buck or more. That’s serious inflation! 🙂 Open the Water Pik, put one full bottle of peroxide water in the reservoir, and set the pressure setting on 2 (two) to start.

3. Lean over your sink to get your blocked ear down near the counter, or if you want to keep your counter free of spray, kneel over your tub, or get in your shower and irrigate that blocked ear. (You will need an extension cord if you use it in your tub or shower, and keep the Water Pik itself out of standing water, of course). It takes just 2-4 minutes to clear a typical ear wax impaction with this amazing machine, on a pressure setting of 2, using up just 1 or 2 bottles of peroxide. There is no other ear wax removal solution in the world that is as fast, safe, inexpensive, or as reliable as the Water Pik at present, in my experience.

Take a brief break every 30 seconds or so if you like, then start again. Very hard or big impactions may require up to five bottles of peroxide water. I haven’t heard of any ear blockage ever taking more than five bottles yet (see reader comments below). Let me know if you break a record! 🙂 If you want to use plain old water instead (warm is best), keep in mind that you are going to need a LOT more water and time, and you’ll want to flush afterward with distilled water, so you don’t leave any bacteria in your ear.

Even though it will feel at first like nothing is happening, keep going. The flow of peroxide water will heat and soften up the wax, oxidizing it (bubbling) and stripping it out imperceptibly down the drain. It will also be disinfecting everything as it goes.  All of a sudden, after what seems like hours but has only been a few minutes, big ol’ chunks of wax will start coming out. Shortly after that, you’ll have a clear, clean ear!

At a pressure setting of 2, the flow is so gentle that you can put the tip right into your ear canal just a little bit (please don’t go deep inside the canal, and keep kids away so no one jams that tip up into your ear, as you could perforate your eardrum). At a setting of 2, it doesn’t matter where you aim it. As you get more experienced, if you use any higher settings, like 3 or 4, be sure to aim the flow at the sides of your ear canal  (you can rest the tip of the Water Pik on the canal itself), not directly at your eardrum. If you don’t, when the water flow suddenly breaks through the wax and the stream hits your eardrum, it can hurt, and leave your ears ringing uncomfortably. You might even perforate an eardrum on the highest settings (5 or above), so just don’t use them, and of course, keep the kids away from the dial while you are doing this.

If you want to visualize the ear wax blockage in your ear before and after you irrigate it, to see when you finally have a clean eardrum with no wax sticking to it, feel free to get an otoscope. If someone else can look for you, get a scope like the Dr. Mom Slimline Otoscope, $27 on Amazon. If you want to visualize it yourself, get a $30 smartphone otoscope to look in your own ear, using your Apple or Android smartphone.

In reality, you don’t need an otoscope however, because at a certain point in your irrigation, your hearing will come flooding back, and you will thank your lucky stars that you are alive and have the gift of hearing again!

That’s it!

Common Sense Warning:

If your ear is painful, or you’ve had a blocked ear for weeks, it might be inflamed. In that case, I’d use one of the much slower alternative solutions below, or go your doctor. An inflamed eardrum can be delicate, and you might perforate it with a jet of high pressure liquid in your ear. A perforation will take weeks to heal, and you might need antibiotics to make sure you don’t get an infection in your middle ear. Even doctors cleaning out ears with syringes or scoops are reported in the medical literature (in the few studies that exist on this) to perforate the tympanic membrane in the eardrum in up to 1% of cases. So be careful.

On the other hand, if you’ve just recently blocked your ear with wax, and you don’t use this in any way that will cause you pain, the Water Pik is your best solution by far.

Again, don’t put the Water Pik deeply into your ear canal, use their standard tip, and just get the tip a tiny bit in, so you can rest it on the side of the canal, set the pressure on 2, and let the rapid flow and the peroxide water strip away the ear wax. Stop as soon as your hearing clears up, as you want to leave some protective wax on the inside of each ear canal.

If you still hear faint ringing an hour or more after your hearing clears up, you may still have some hard wax stuck to your eardrum. That’s when an otoscope would help you figure that out. If there is still wax down at the bottom, flush again for another 10-40 seconds and look again, or wait an hour and listen again. Soon even the faintest ringing will stop and you’ll be hearing wonderfully again.

Also, be sure not to use cold peroxide. It should be room temperature or even a bit warm (you can put the bottle in hot water for a few minutes or in the microwave for 10 seconds) if you want it even more enjoyable and efficient at softening and stripping out wax. Cold water in your inner ear makes some folks nauseous or dizzy. For anyone who regularly gets really hard wax plugs, consider taking a 20 minute sauna or steam room visit just before you use your WaterPik. That will make your cleaning session particularly fast. Fortunately, most of the time we don’t get super hard wax plugs.

Want to spend a whole lot more money for very little extra value? There’s a Water Pik with a tip that directs the water to the sides of the ear canal, rather than directly at the eardrum. Its called the Bionix OtoClear Ear Lavage system, and it costs $230 (!!). Here’s a video of it in action.  Most of us would never pay that, and fortunately we don’t have to. Just use your Water Pik on a low pressure setting, and direct its jet at the side of the ear canal rather than directly down the center. Since 2009, YouTube has a few videos of Water Piks being used for ear wax removal by physician assistants, so this secret is increasingly getting out. People need to realize they can just Do This Themselves.

Ear wax removal is a big business. Wikipedia says about 150,000 ears are irrigated each week in the US alone, by doctors and their aides, and 40,000 in the UK.  The average US cost, to each of us, via our health insurance premiums, of one ear wax removal session is $88. Then there’s all the lost time, transportation, and irritation of having to depend on others to fix something you can do yourself. Just in the US alone, that’s a $690 million dollar business waiting to be eliminated by this life hack. Globally, I’d guess that about $3 billion of annual health care expenditures will eventually be eliminated with this easy and permanent solution.

Fully 6% of people in the world (18 million Americans, 400 million folks worldwide), are what are called ear wax “overproducers”. I’m one of them! Many overproducers get one or two blocked ears and ear wax-caused tinnitus at least once a year.  These are the folks whose lives are permanently changed by this solution.

Bonus 1: Use Your Water Pik to Prevent Ear Blockages

If you overproduce ear wax, consider using your Water Pik for a minute or so of maintenance cleaning once a month in each ear, just to manage wax buildup, so you don’t get any more regular blockages. If you use an otoscope to look into your ears after you do it the first few times you’ll find an irrigation time that will leave some protective wax on your ear canals, where it belongs, but also keep wax from building up so much that it blocks your eardrum. For me, a minute or so in each ear once a month does the trick.

Bonus 2: Use Your Water Pik to Prevent Ear Infections after Swimming

If you are a swimmer or water sports enthusiast, I’d recommend a peroxide ear flush for just 5-10 seconds in each ear when you get home after any ocean, lake, pool, or hot tub swim, to keep your ears clean and infection free. I’ve been doing this for over fifteen years now (I discovered this solution in 2006, and finally got around to writing it up in 2011), it really works. I had a few nasty ear infections after surfing in sketchy water or swimming in public pools in previous years.

Bonus 3: Use your Water Pik in Family First Aid

If anyone in your family gets a deep cut, especially with dirt, wood, or organic matter getting into the wound, do a peroxide water wound flush with the Water Pik on a low but still piercing setting, and then dab the cut dry with tissue before you bandage the wound. A penetrating spray of 3% peroxide is an ideal deep disinfectant, and it will flush out anything that might otherwise fester (suppurate) in the wound.

Bonus 4: Use your Water Pik to Floss and Clean Your Teeth After Eating

Water Piks are great for flossing, and for cleaning your teeth and your kids braces after eating. They also have a cool tip (a “Pik pocket”) that folks with gingivitis can use to clean out their gum pockets.

Several decades after inventing them (way back in 1962!), Water Pik finally commissioned some scientific studies so they can now claim on their box that they are “clinically proven to be twice as effective as string floss for improving gum health,” and that they are “proven in laboratory tests to remove 99.9% of plaque with a 3 second application to the treatment area.” They also finally realized they should call their devices Water Flossers to communicate their best use for the teeth. So good for them. But like all companies, they could certainly improve their game.

Here are three things I’d like to see Water Pik do next:

  1. Because is a hassle to load water reservoir, and to use them with our mouths closed tight, and because we get so much water mess on the counter when we don’t, many folks don’t floss regularly with Water PiksWe need a Water Pik for the shower, with a mirror that let us see our teeth and gums as we floss. This Water Pik would always have water, and we could now use them with our mouths open. We’d all floss with these at least once a day.  Many of us would step in the shower to use them more often, even while fully dressed, as they’d be easier, faster, more accurate, and less messy than using them on the counter.
  2. Make a smaller Aquarius II with a flat plug that doesn’t stick out from the wall, a non-kinking white cord, and a splitter so we don’t have to remove it to use the coveted bathroom plug. All this will make it easier to keep it on the counter.
  3. Make a cordless Water Pik with a pressure dial (1-10), so we can take them when we travel, for our teeth, ears and first aid kits. Add a hydrogen peroxide water bottle attachment at the base, so we don’t have to fill the reservoir. Thanks!

I’ve sent these ideas to Water Pik. We’ll see if they or someone else acts on them.



Advice on Seeking Professional Advice, and a Rant on Safetyism and Managing Risk

Again, feel free to ask your doctor, nurse, or physician assistant about any of these Water Pik health care applications. But brace yourself for potential resistance, too, and please evaluate their advice with an appropriately critical ear 🙂

DIY ear cleaning that works fast and well may be a new idea to them, and it hasn’t been vetted yet (that I know of) by the appropriate health care bodies, like the AMA. Remember that even doctors can perforate eardrums in up to 1% of cases (this number is based on one single study), and I’m sure many of those cases involve health care professionals using more primitive, less consistent technologies than the Water Pik, technologies like syringes which can generate variable and very strong bursts of water. Know that when someone else is doing the cleaning, they can’t determine what pressure is painful, until after they have caused pain. So unless they are using a Water Pik on a constant low pressure setting, they may be using a less effective standard of care, and that may not be welcome news to them. Again, no studies that I know of have been done comparing professional with self-administration eardrum perforation rates, in various forms of ear wax blockage removal. Let me know if you find any!

Some docs may advise you to “play it safe” and let a professional continue to do your ear cleaning. All docs will surely say that with your welfare in mind, but some will also want to avoid any professional liability for your misuse of the tool, and any lawsuits from you based on their advice, especially until any guidance comes to them from their professional bodies. If the latter is a motivation, realize that they are the ones “playing it safe” with such advice. Some docs will tell you about real risks, like getting a chronic middle ear infection after an eardrum perforation (if they do, ask to quantify that risk, and what can be done to reduce it), or requiring eardrum reconstruction surgery after a perforation (such surgeries are never perfect, too), or people who have lost most or all of their hearing in one ear after a perforation (again, ask about risk rates and how to reduce the risk, whether they or you are the ones doing the cleaning).

Realize that all of these risks are real, but please also do a reality check when you think about risk in your life. Ask yourself if you can reduce and manage the risk by smart behavior, and ask yourself what real benefits to your future self and family, in permanently lost time, money, and resources, you are giving up or giving to others by avoiding that risk. Then make your decision.

In reality, life is inherently risky, and we must choose and manage our risks as well as we can, and reap the benefits from taking the right, calculated risks. A small number of people are always hurt by any potentially risky behavior. Almost any behavior can kill you, in the wrong circumstances. The key risk questions in any life choice is whether the risk can be reduced and managed by smart behavior, and whether the benefits outweigh the risk. You have to decide that for yourself, with every risky behavior.

Now for the rant:

As many older folks like me who remember a different America know, a number of new social factors, including our great wealth, our litigiousness, an education system that doesn’t stress personal responsibility, an entertainment culture that often ignores reality, and a media that thrives on manufacturing crises have given us, along with other recent maladies, an epidemic of safetyism. Our new safetyism bias keeps us from doing lots of potentially beneficial but slightly risky things, it causes some of us to avoid taking vaccines, it causes us to ban peanuts in schools instead of retraining the dysregulated immune systems of those few folks who have severe allergies, it causes us to ban “trigger words” and deny speakers on college campuses instead of teaching students conflict resolution skills, and it causes us to retreat into disempowering filter bubbles, where we are “safe” to see only things that confirm our own limited views of the world. Read Lukianoff and Haight’s The Coddling of the American Mind (2019) for more on this topic.

Safetyism bias also keeps companies from recommending common sense solutions until they’ve been exhaustively tested by some official body, and it keeps some doctors from recommending anything that might cause the slightest risk or pain to a patient. I believe America will climb out of our current dystopia of safetyism, back to a world where people are more personally empowered and responsible for their own actions, they actively manage their own risks, sieze more opportunities, and our society prioritizes experimentation, progress, and innovation the way we did in the mid-20th century. But we must recognize we are at a low point for such things at present. If you’d like to know about a transformative technology that I believe will help us get to a more adaptive America, read my Medium series on Personal AIs (PAIs). I think the vast majority of us will be using PAIs in the 2030s, the way most of us use smartphones today, and making many more evidence-based decisions around real risk and opportunity, the rest of our lives. Let me know what you think, and what I’m getting wrong.

Again, I believe that people deserve to be able to do things themselves, even when it can be a bit painful and risky when we do things wrong. We aren’t children. If you resist safetyism, and adopt a common sense, DIY ethic, you’ll find, use, share, and benefit from good solutions like the ones on this page, years or decades before they finally become officially approved. You’ll fix your problems faster ever before.

I’ll be curious to see what kinds of AMA guidelines for Water Pik health care use eventually emerge. Fortunately, regardless of what they eventually do or say, you can still do it yourself, right now. You are a responsible human being, who has good common sense. If you don’t, you can get it, if you are willing to learn from your mistakes.

I think you deserve to have the most powerful and affordable tools at your disposal. For ear wax removal, that’s definitely the Water Pik, at present. So I hope the more independent-minded readers will take it upon themselves to try this the next time they have a blockage, rather than take their problem to a physician. You deserve to be able to solve this problem yourself, immediately, whenever it occurs. Good luck!


2019 Addition: 

Swig for 1 Min w/ 3% Hydrogen Peroxide Before You Brush Your Teeth, Every Day

HydrogenPeroxideBottleOK, you’ve read this far, so now let me tell you about four fantastic daily uses for that hydrogen peroxide you just bought that you’ve probably never heard of. There are many other good uses for it that you can find on the web, but I bet this page is the first one on the web to explain the following four benefits, just as this web page was the first to recommend the Water Pik for ear use back in 2011.

If you swig your mouth with 3% hydrogen peroxide for one full minute before you brush your teeth (don’t swallow it, of course!), swish it around with your cheeks (keep it moving, to maximize coverage and penetration), and keep it in long enough to spit out white foam, then four amazingly beneficial things will happen to you, friend. Here they are!

1. You’ll Prevent Bacteria Getting Into Your Brain (Alzheimer’s)

This is the most incredible benefit of all. It turns out that every time we brush our teeth, we get transient bacteremia. We literally drive small but significant doses of living bacteria through our gum wall and into our bloodstream. Apparently electric toothbrushes, which clean our teeth and plaque even better than regular brushes, can cause even more temporary bacteremia at the gum line. What’s worse, some of these bacteria, while still alive, can escape from our bloodstream into our brain, through something called the blood brain barrier, which gets a bit leaky every night when we sleep. We know this because at the center of many amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s brains, we find dental bacteria. The brain’s microglia (immune cells) use amyloid, and other molecules, to wall off these invaders. It turns out that a common mouth bacteria called P. gingivalis is one of the major kinds of bacteria that continually gets into the brain. Here’s a nice 2019 Science article on this finding.

When you swig and swish around hydrogen peroxide in your mouth, holding there until you get foam, and then spit it out before you brush your teeth, you’ve killed your mouth bacteria dead, even the ones sitting in a protective biofilm on your teeth. Now you’ll only be driving dead bacteria into your bloodstream when you follow that peroxide swig and spit with tooth brushing. They won’t be able to get into your brain, and you will have prevented what appears to be one of the key causes of Alzheimers, continual bacterial assault on the brain.

Hydrogen peroxide is less expensive and more effective than antibacterial mouthwash as well. Fresh peroxide will foam up in your mouth in just 60 seconds. Go ahead and time it, if you don’t believe me. That foam is evidence that your mouth is being disinfected. So buy a lot of it, and keep it on every bathroom counter, next to your tooth brushes, so it is easy to use.

You might even consider a peroxide swig, swish and spit before you eat, if you are going to eat any foods that are hard and sharp, like popcorn or nuts. Again, in those situations, simply eating food will make small cuts in your gums and drive small numbers of living mouth bacteria right into your bloodstream. If you swig before you eat, those bacteria don’t go anywhere but to your waste removal systems. They’re dead.

2. You’ll Prevent or Greatly Reduce Receding Gums

The older we get, the more our gums recede against the assault of mouth bacteria. I am convinced that daily swig and spit of 3% hydrogen peroxide before teeth brushing will greatly reduce receding gums. My gums feel fresh after a peroxide swig, and they get pink with new blood flow, like a kid’s gums. I’ve just killed the bacteria that were causing them to recede, and reperfused my gum tissue.

When you go to a periodontist, because of gum disease, or to a dentist who does deep cleaning, they will put a hydrogen peroxide gel into your infected gum pockets, to kill the bacteria. Cleaning out the living bacteria in those pockets is critical to gum repair. When you swig peroxide before you brush your teeth, two or three times a day, you’ll greatly reduce the bacterial load in your mouth. You give your mouth a rest, and cause new blood flow. Hydrogen peroxide’s two “approved” medical uses are for wound disinfecting and oral debridement (cleaning out oxidizable gunk and bacteria). Most people don’t know its very good for the second use, but now you do.

Roughly once a month, when I swig and swish peroxide water, one small area on my gums will hurt a bit for the minute I hold it in my mouth. After spitting the foam, my gum line looks white at the place where it hurts. I know enough medicine to know that this hurt is good for me. That hurt has just disinfected an open wound on my gums. I can help that open wound to heal, by swigging a bit more often over the next few days, and by taking a daily multivitamin with C, D ,E, A, and K to accelerate healing, or eating the good foods that will give me those vitamins. I’m sure that healing those wounds will protect my gums from receding further and keep bacteria out of my brain. If I didn’t get the pain, I wouldn’t even have known they were there.

I’ve vetted everything I just said to you by email with a respected periodontist at U.C.S.F. They think this is a reasonable hypothesis. There are no ten or twenty year human studies to validate any of this however. That means you have two choices: ignore this info, and let your gums recede for the next ten years, or try it and see. Take this page to your doctor or dentist if you need a second opinion before you start.

3. You’ll Greatly Reduce or Eliminate Bad Breath

A good fraction of our bad breath comes from bacteria in our mouth and from dead stuff and infections in our gums. This is particularly true for older people, who get a very peculiar kind of “old person’s breath” to accompany their deeply receded gums and active gingivitis. Swigging with peroxide water several times a day will greatly reduce your bad breath, especially if you have any gingivitis. Again, I don’t have studies to quote you, but I am sure the studies will come. In the meantime, feel free to ignore this advice, or try it and see. If you have bad breath, your partner will be able to tell you if it works. After just a few days of three-times-a day peroxide swigs, a few of my older friends have reported to me that their partners noticed a significant reduction in breath odor. Again, try it and judge for yourself.

4. You’ll Whiten Your Teeth

Peroxide is a mild bleach, so it takes about a week of use before you’ll notice that stains that were previously on your teeth are now gone, and that they are much whiter. You can spend a lot of money and time on teeth whiteners, or visiting your dentist for cosmetic whitening to get that bright smile, or you can just use peroxide every day. Again, it’s your choice.

It’s a pain at first to remember to swig and spit before you brush, but after a few weeks it becomes automatic. You won’t look at a toothbrush without thinking about that peroxide swig as well. You’ll start to really enjoy the clean feeling in your mouth, and you may even do it any time your mouth seems like it needs a refresh. You may even keep a bottle in your car, as I do (along with an old peroxide bottle with a cap that you can use as a spitoon) so you can get a few more of those swigs in during the day, without wasting any time.

OK, that’s enough of a pep talk! Either you’ll try it or you won’t. I hope you will, to get these four benefits, and I hope you will pass this tip on, friend!

Less Important Stuff


Below is additional info on slower, lower cost solutions and nonsolutions for ear wax removal. You can skip it, unless you really  want to see all the curious stuff we inventive humans do to try to manage this problem.

I. Nonsolutions

1. Q-Tips. These are both ineffective and dangerous. As almost all of us know, Q-Tips will very occasionally get the wax out, but most times they just compact it deeper in the ear canal, creating a plug. The big problem is that if you push too hard, you’ll rip your eardrum. An ear wax removal startup called Clear Earpitching in minutes 21-28 in this video, estimates that 20,000 people perforate their eardrums with Q-Tips every year worldwide. Think of how many people dig at their ears to get this level of injuries, and you see the magnitude of the ear wax removal problem.

II. Other Home Solutions

1. Ear Wax Removal Syringe. Acu-Life makes a great Ear Wax Removal Syringe, $5, with a tip that diverts the liquid to the sides of the ear canal, so you can push the plunger as hard as you want. But the flow ends up being pretty mild, so even if you load it with peroxide it will take up to an hour, sitting in the shower with it, using it 40+ times on your ear, to dislodge heavy plugs. If you have that kind of time and want to save money, go this route. If you don’t have that kind of time, I’d get the Water Pik. Again, use warm peroxide, as cold water in your inner ear can make you dizzy or nauseous.

2. Debrox, or Murine ear wax removal systems. These cost $6-$8 a pop, and use carbamide peroxide (a relative to hydrogen peroxide), but in very small amounts. You are supposed to use them for several days in a row to soften the plug before you irrigate it with the ineffectual little squeeze bulb (forget that, use a syringe instead). They’ll eventually work, but they take days of effort. I’d use this very slow and inefficient solution only if your ear is painful or has been impacted for several days, and you’re worried it may already be infected. Alternatively you might use it for a few days (or the cheaper homemade solutions below), if you have a hard plug, to soften it up, and then use the Water Pik.

3. Homemade solutions. Commonly recommended are vinegar, mineral oil, isopropyl alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. Some recommend mixing these, in various ratios. Hydrogen peroxide will dissolve the ear wax (it attacks bacteria and other oxidizables in the wax, and the heat of oxidation dissolves the wax), isopropyl alcohol will also dissolve ear wax (though I find it too harsh to use regularly), and oil or vinegar will slowly penetrate behind the plug, making it easier to pop out.  To use the oil or vinegar, lay down for awhile with them in your ear (30 minutes) then use a syringe or the Water Pik to flush out the plug. The hydrogen peroxide takes only 3-4 minutes before the bubbling slows down and you can put in a new batch of hydrogen peroxide. I’d recommend using the isopropyl alcohol even more briefly, if at all. Topical alcohol can actually penetrate into your cells when you apply it, and it’s mildly toxic to them when concentrated.

4. Sauna or steam bath visit. Taking a 20 minute sauna or steam bath before any of the above will soften up your ear wax quite a bit, sometimes enough for it to come out when you flush it even with the weak syringe.  For really hard plugs you might combine the 20 minute vinegar or mineral oil ear soak, the sauna, and then the Water Pik with hydrogen peroxide.

III. Two-Person Solutions

1. Ear wax scoops. These are popular in Asian cultures, though their ear wax tends to be crumbly and easier to scoop out than Caucasian ear wax. If you want to try this, you might use Jobar’s Lighted Ear Wax Scoop on Amazon, $4. If the person using the scoop wears a lighted magnifier, $5, it may also help them visualize the wax while they are working. I’d also use an otoscope before and after. I wouldn’t use the scoop yourself, as you can’t see the wax.

IV. Physician or Nurse Removal Solution

Do this if you must, but keep in mind that you can now avoid a clinic trip entirely with solution above. Before I dreamed up the Water Pik solution, I visited the doc a few times in my life to get ear wax removed, after my shenanigans couldn’t get it out. Each time I asked if the heavy duty syringe they used in the office was something I could purchase. No dice. Fortunately you don’t need a prescription or a medical license for the Water Pik. If you use it, consider it a small step you can personally take to combat the developed world’s out-of-control health care costs.

A Slow, Inexpensive, but Effective Solution for Ear Wax Removal – Hand Irrigators

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Houseables Sprayers – Home Ear Wax Buildup Prevention

If you don’t want to spend the money on a Water Pik, try this:

1. Housables Spray Bottles with Twist Adjustable Nozzles  ($10, pack of 3 on Amazon. Sure wish Amazon had $3 single items. When will someone make that happen?)

2. Swan 3% Hydrogen Peroxide Bottles (should fit your Housables sprayer) ($9, pack of 2)

Since 2014, a number of ear wax hand sprayers have finally become available on Amazon, including Elephant Ear, Wax-Rx, Hear Ear, Ear Gator, etc. These are all ridiculously overpriced at $30 to $50, and they are also much slower and less effective than the Water Pik, so I don’t recommend any of them at present. Just use the solutions above and save your money.


Comments? Corrections? Advice? Know any other good solutions not mentioned here? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

You are amazing!

Comments

  1. I use the water pik for my clogged ears and it works great! No more doctors!

    • Drewbee says:

      Awesome! I bought a usb ear camera off ebay to look inside my ear. I couldn’t get the wax out using the scrapers that came with it the vidio camera. I tried waterpik and rotated the sprayer on medium pressure and it all washed out!! Even the tiny hard black chunks laying against the ear drum came out!! Amazing solution!!

      • Thanks for the comment. Husband was having a problem in one ear, low pressure was just not doing the trick. I read your comment, and turned up the pressure a little more and out came the deposit of wax. He feels much better now, Thanks!

  2. philip g says:

    This solution worked great for me, and I really appreciated the detailed info on the web site, which to my mind confirmed its trustworthiness (not just some company trying to push its product). The first time I had my ear plugged, I went to the doctor and they used a high pressure device to remove the wax. Had to pay $30. This time, the doctor’s office implicitly criticized me for not having come in for at least three years (sorry, I was healthy) and then made me feel as though they would be doing me a favor by squeezing me in the following day. So I bought the water pik. My only challenge was getting a feel for directing the hydrogen peroxide to squirt in the right place without scoring a direct hit (which was uncomfortable) and maybe I should have paid closer attention to the need to warm the solution because I was a bit dizzy, but those mild inconveniences paled in comparison to the relief I felt upon getting my hearing back and relieving the pressure in my head, and within 10 minutes any dizziness went away.

    • Great to hear this Levi and Philip! Yes I really think with this Water Pik + hydrogen peroxide technology we finally have a solution that will allow anyone with common sense and care to rapidly and efficiently manage their own ear problems, which I feel is the best for both us and society. Doctors will push back, however, as this approach gets more well known. If Water Pik got smart they could ally with some doctors and make an even cheaper and safer version of their product, but I expect that will take many years. Meanwhile we can follow the ethic of DIY (Do It Yourself) and spread the good news to the many others we know who have this problem.

  3. Dana SIms says:

    Went to the doctor last week for my annual physical. They told me that my ears were impacted and needed to be cleaned out. They tried in the office, but to no avail. Told me to buy some Debrox, use it for two weeks and come back. I did the Debrox for two nights and then tried their little ‘syringe’. That was laughable. 🙂 Then I noticed the Water Pik on the counter and thought, “Why not?” Filled it with warm water and turned it on the lowest setting. The trick was finding the right angle. Holy Moses!! The wax that came out was totally disgusting. Blech. But, the funny thing was that it felt GOOD to have the warm water in my ears and it itched like crazy. After I was done, I wondered if I was the only nut case to have figured this out. Looks like I’m in good company. LOL It works and if you use common sense it’s a procedure that can be done at home.

  4. Back in 1993 when my daughter was 4, her peds dr. diagnosed ear wax in abundance in her ears. She had her nurse put the Water Pik on the lowest setting and using warm water cleaned daughter’s ears. I asked a bunch of questions and decided to do this at home where I could leisurely use the Water Pik. Did it the next day and was amazed at all the wax that slowly came out! My daughter kept saying how clear her hearing was for days after! And she also got over her aversion to having water in her ears during bath time.

  5. Thank you. This is the information I needed and at just the right time.

  6. I had a clogged ear and went to CVS minute clinic and got mine done for $60. The practitioner actually used the same exact waterpik I bought from target except she had the the fancy ear tip you mentioned on it.

  7. My doctor cleaned out my ear and it worked incredible! Now, that it is clogged again, I have to wait a month for another appointment, so I bought a waterpik based on your recommendation. It hurts!!! The waterpik is soooo much stronger than the syringe-style the doctor uses. You are going to damage your eardrum if you use a Waterpik! You people are crazy and full of it! DO NOT USE A WATERPIK IN YOUR EAR!!!! IT HURTS!!!!!

    • Hello Micah! Did you use the lowest setting of water flow? There are two settings on the water pik. It is a bit uncomfortable, but it most definitely does not hurt on the lowest setting, UNLESS your ear is inflamed (e.g, you waited several days after it got plugged to do anything about it, and now its infected). Don’t throw away the water pik, it will be very useful for future ear cleanings when your ear gets blocked again but not inflamed. Also, if your wax plug doesn’t come out on the lowest setting after using a reservoir or two full of hydrogen peroxide (not water) while bending over the tub, you should consider sitting in a sauna or steamroom at a gym (you can get a free day pass for this at any gym) for 20 mins beforehand. If you don’t have access to a sauna you can sit in the shower for 15 mins, letting hot water run into your ear (as hot as is comfortable, but again not so hot that it hurts). Either of these tricks will make the wax plug VERY soft and it should come out VERY easily, even at the lowest flow setting. This works, you will get the hang of it if you persist. Good luck and congratulations for trying! As always, I’m not a doctor, use your own common sense here. If it hurts, go to the doctor’s office.

  8. I had acute otitis many yrs ago & went to ER which was very busy. They put me in a small room & gave me a water pic & said “go for it”,not really,but just to be concise here.Anyway,it cleared out the plugs & pain fast using water. I did find info which states water will promote fungal growth & am wondering about the water content of peroxide & if alcohol back-flushing would dry it up,although 70% does contain 30% water. Maybe this would drive someone with OCD crazy. Alcohol is irritating.
    Thanks for your info site.

  9. WOW- Ive been struggling with ear wax/skin impaction issues for years. I have awful insurance, so its become quite expensive to go to the ENT every few months for a cleaning. I finally had enough and just used a Water Pik for the first time- and- OH MY GOD- the clogs came out of my ears instantly! It was like magic! Within the first 10 seconds of each ear- I could hear again and all the debris was in the sink! Id tried EVERYTHING- useless syringes, ear wax removal kits- everything- and this is the only thing that worked. Please stop wasting money- go get a Water Pik now! (I really cant see how youd puncture your ear drum doing this unless youre a total idiot)

  10. Heather says:

    I cannot think of a time I have ever commented on an article, but I have to say a big huge thank you!!! Ever since I amped up my exercise, my ears have been giving me problems….I knew instinctively that it was wax build up even though I have never had a problem before. Yesterday, my ear ‘stopped working’ for lack of a better way of saying it….like someone just closed it up. I have not been to a doctor in years (big into natural health..), but starting thinking, today, that I might need to see a professional. All morning I did all the natural recommendations…vinegar, oil, peroxide, etc…nothing helped. I have six kids and had to tell them to speak into my right ear…frankly, I was annoyed by the inconvience of this seemingly small problem. Looking in our medicine closet I saw our Water Pik and thought….hmmmmm…. I went on-line and found your article. So well written, I knew exactly what to do! I wish I could post a pic of what came out…I did take a picture for my family…that is just gross enough for our entertainment. I am shocked at how great I feel, having that cleared from my ear…over and above simply being able to hear, again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  11. So, for a small expense, you can turn your home waterpik into something even closer to the one the doctor uses. You can buy the wands that they use (it has an angle and I think less pressure than the typical waterpik wand.) Three wands, about $20. http://www.amazon.com/Adapter-WP-360-Bionix-Medical-Technology/dp/B004YTUSB4/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1378250379&sr=1-1&keywords=bionix+wand. Then you just need the tip. The tips can be bought as well, but they are something like $70 for 40 tips. (Bulk much?) However, I found that the tip from the Acu-Life Ear Wax Removal Syringe screws onto the wand. It prevents you from inserting too far and directs the water to the sides of the ear canal rather than straight towards the ear drum. About $6 for the syringe. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000SOJXGA/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1. Just thought that I would share.

  12. A+ very useful. I helped my wife with this today and it worked EXACTLY as you indicated. Kudos and a heart felt thanks from her. Best tip in years!

  13. Wow, thanks for the great tip! I happen to have one but never thought to use it this way. I have a partial blockage in my left ear that traps water if I swim. I will do this right away. You are a godsend!

  14. Mike Friel says:

    Was deaf for a year in my right ear. Then the left ear went too. I used this on both ears. Full hearing again. INCREDIBLE!!!!

  15. Martin says:

    John you are a miracle worker, thank you so much for this post! I was deaf in one ear due to wax and the other would block up at night then clear (ish) in the morning but it was only a matter of time before I lost hearing in that one too, I came across your post quickly bought a Waterpik from Amazon, used some common sense in its use and now I have full hearing again without having to trail along to the nurse (and be made to feel like I’m putting her out!) like I have ever 2-3 years since I was in my teens 20 years ago!!

    Again, thank you sir! The feeling of getting your hearing back again is one of the best in the world and makes you realise just how lucky you are.

    • Great to hear this Martin! I agree, the feeling of getting your hearing back truly makes you feel lucky to be alive, and to have such great senses and opportunities to learn and grow. I recommend saying gratefuls for the day every night with your loved one as you go to bed. That’s how I do my best to hold on to that that way of looking at the world. Best, JS

  16. John M. Smart, you are a genius! I could not believe the ball of wax that came out of my ear. After a week of misery of pressure and loss of hearing, I feel like a new man. It is truly an ‘Internet Miracle’!!

  17. John, thank you! I was looking for methods of ear wax cleaning for my father, then saw your advice and said no harm to check it out. The ENT said he produces a lot of wax and needs to come in every couple of months to get it cleaned. We tried your method and what a relief – ear wax out, he can hear so much better, and no costly doctor visits. Today is my mom’s turn! Thanks again for a safe miracle!

  18. elizabeth says:

    Genius!!! I have narrow ear canals. They get clogged badly 5-6 times a year. I hated seeing a doctor every time to have them cleaned and they always seemed to struggle with it plus I had to go through an entire physical exam. Everything with the Water Pic worked exactly as described in the article. I was instantly able to hear again after using it and my ears have never felt more clear. The reviews for other products designed to remove ear wax always say the pressure isn’t good enough or they’re 200-400 bucks. The pressure on this is perfect for ear wax removal and I did a better job of clearing it out than doctors I’ve had in the past. Can’t believe I found this article on a whim but so glad I did as it’s the only home remedy that has worked for me. Thank you!

  19. John, Thank you so much. I already have battled meniere’s disease for many years and have limited hearing on one side But yesterday I woke up with no hearing on that side. I mean none, I put the phone up to that ear and couldn’t hear any dial tone. My balance was horrible and I thought life as I’ve known it even dealing with meniere’s was over. I considered the emergency room But I also know they don’t have a lot of experience with meniere’s disease so after trying that Debrox crap last night and this morning with no improvement, I was fortunate enough to find your site online.I had a big jug of hydrogen peroxide and a water pic so I decided I didn’t have a lot to lose. My gosh the nasty material that came out of my ear. I thought I had flushed it clean yet my wife looked inside and said oh my. She then pulled out a plug half the size of a marble. You may not have saved my hearing forever, But you improved it and saved my sanity on this fathers day. Thank you again.

  20. I only leave comments on these types of websites when the information presented is extraordinary. This is the case here. My left ear has always been ‘squishy’ and generally filled with wax to some degree for as long as I can remember. It has only recently become extremely bad to the point where I could no longer sleep on my left side, or my hearing would be lost completely on that side for at least half of the day. So I decided to finally do something about it and discovered this website. I purchased this imitation WaterPik: http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-EW-DJ10-A-Water-Flosser/dp/B0027LSEPS/ref=pd_sim_121_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0YP2H4R6HE453PGTYQVZ

    On its lowest setting, the pulses are pretty intense in the ear canal, but nothing painful. I let the peroxide work for several minutes after each tankful. It took 2 complete tankfuls and a lot of shaking of my head, but as far as I can tell, all of the wax is completely out of my ear! I don’t think I’ve ever been able to hear this clearly. It’s insane! Anyway, thanks a million John for helping me and everyone else on this site.

  21. I saw my doctor today for something else, and while I was there, he cleaned out my ears (I too am an annoying over-producer of wax; so gross, ugh). I asked him about this, and he said if you were careful, you could totally do it. It was basically no different than what he and his staff do. I had already bought the Water Pik as I don’t have any dental insurance right now. So I have two uses for it, and yay, no more doctor visits for this!

  22. My Dr’s office uses a trigger spray bottle with a hose and small ear tip. It is called Elephant Ear irrigation system. Asked about buying one. Was told “oh no”. Went home looked it up and found it on Amazon. If I remember correctly, it was like $14 for whole kit, Bottle, Cup, small tool to help scoop out debrie.

    Use 1 part vinegar, 1 part distilled water or 1 part peroxide 1 part distilled water.

    Lasts forever, works great.

    2 last comments:
    1: as stated in your article, temperature is important to avoid dizziness.
    2: The ENT specialist told me: use vinegar not peroxide and ALWAYS use distilled not tap water.

    • Great share Scott! A couple years back I started using hand sprayers for ear canal maintenance, so now I have two great solutions, and have updated this article to reflect that. Warmest regards, JS

  23. sally tarbox says:

    Thanks SO MUCH for this advice. I’d never even heard of the Water Pik before, but your article was so convincing I invested £45 in one (figuring it’d be good for teeth, whatever) and it WORKS! After 3 tanks of water, the gunk comes out and I could hear again (had been using eardrops for about 3 days prior). Brilliant help, thanks again!!

  24. Your advice worked! I’ve never had a problem with ear wax before, but I ended up with a plug in my left ear 4 days ago. I got to work yesterday and was so uncomfortable. I found this post and immediately went to Target, got the Water Pik and other supplies, brought them back to work and had the plug out in less than 20 seconds. You are my hero!

  25. Ever since my teen years (I’m 62), I’ve had periodic cerumen (wax) impaction in both ears, usually in the summer months when the heat and humidity turn cerumen from its usually hard flaky consistency, which normally falls out on its own, into a mass the consistency of Silly Putty. After my third or fourth irrigation in the doctor’s office, he showed me his off-the-shelf Water-Pik that he used on me and all of his other patients. He showed me a slight modification he made of clipping off the angled section and filing it smooth with a nailfile. It makes the opening a little larger, reducing the risk of injury by lowering the pressure of the water jet. I have been using this method on my own for over 40 years and have never had issues. Yes, you do need to be careful not to put the tip too far into the ear canal, use warm (not hot) water, and use the lowest pressure setting (definitely get a model with variable pressure). Look, doctors basically use exactly the same equipment to irrigate ears, but because of the high cost of malpractice insurance premiums they have to live with every year of their carees, most will not recommend any DIY procedures. If you have the money or great insurance, by all means, go to an ENT for treatment. Most Americans are not in that category however. It’s a good solution with very acceptable risk.

  26. Jessica Scurlock says:

    I have been having hearing problems for years and just in the past few months my ears started getting clogged. I was putting hydrogen peroxide in my ears and it just wasn’t clearing them out. I actually stood there in desperation looking at my Water Pik, wondering if I should try that but decided against it. So instead I looked up how to unclog my ears fast and that’s when I came upon this sight that suggested using the Water Pik. Thank God! As I was useing it two giant chunks came out of both my ears along with a lot of other little pieces. I can actually hear again! I thought I was going deaf, just turned out I had so much wax in my ears. Thank you so much for posting this.

  27. Kevin Smith says:

    My right ear had total blockage for about 5 days. I did everything & it looked like I was going to the doctor, until I read this. We bought the same water pic as shown in this post & used it on low pressure. That blockage cleared during the 2nd tank full. It came out kind of like sand…kinda I couldn’t believe it. A couple of minutes later I could hear better out of that ear than the unblocked one. Easy fix, I gave it a quick indirect blast from my new water pic & all is well with the world.
    Thanks for the brilliant idea. If only all solutions to problems worked out this well.

  28. Bought a Water Pik because of the write up above. Truly amazing! The stuff that came out of my left ear was gruesome. I used warm water on its own. Going to add the peroxide for a few flushes next. I will dilute it as its 6%.

    Thanks for this web page.

  29. Gill Leone says:

    That water pick/water irrigator hack is so effective! Just did this using 3% HP solution. As long as you use the lowest setting for less forceful speed and don’t put the tip into the ear canal (angle it just outside, the goal is for the jet stream to flush the canal not direct insertion), anyone can do it.
    I went from a fully blocked left ear which the Dr remarked was one of the most wax impacted she had seen (!) to having full hearing again in 10 secs. The very first spurt actually did the most work- globs of wax pieces shot out my ear into the sink, where I had my head lowered. Continued at short intervals of a few seconds. I used less than one reservoir for both ears, the right side was merely to try and there was indeed some wax.

    I do recommend the manual irrigation method too, using hp, water and a hot shower. I tried this first to loosen things, and I’m sure that pre-step made the stronger irrigation afterwards more effective. I used less HP as a result, though more warm water overall.

    I’ll likely do that as my regular maintenance. But if you reach blocked ear stage, def try the water irrigator + hp/warm water method. Many thanks!

  30. Wow! This is the best earwax blockage tip ever! I’ve had a blocked right ear for almost 2 days and couldn’t hear properly. Had been using 3% HP in the ear for up to 20 minutes, then flushing with an ear syringe or saline ear flush solution, had tried the oil-type products too. Nothing was working at all. I saw this article this morning and bought the same waterpik shown here. Filled it with half 3% HP and half warm water. The first few jets of water to hit my inner ear immediately dealt with the blockage! I didn’t even need one full tank to completely clear my ear. It feels so good to have a fresh, clean ear canal and have my full hearing back again. Thank you so much!

  31. I had been blocked in one ear for 2 days and tried all sorts of stuff. Finally bought the water pik and I don’t regret it at all. The instant I turned it on, three big clumps of wax came shooting out of my ear, and within 45 seconds when the liquid all cleared, i could hear great again. Thank you, i would recommend this for everyone and I’m so glad i found this page!

  32. WOW. I cannot thank you enough for this info! I was looking online out of desperation, found this article, and today I went out and bought a waterpik and the problem is completely gone after 5 minutes! Saved me a trip to Patient First, where they already told me the problem would clear on its own, then my doctor recommended Debrox, which only seemed to make it worse. Thank you so much!

  33. Left ear was still plugged with wax after 2 weeks of trying 1st: drops of just hydrogen peroxide 3% in ear canal for about 15 min. at a time for 3-4 days, and then 2nd: drops of just Debrox 2-3/day for 4+ days…and always using shower water to try to flush out each morning. It helped a little, but my hearing kept going in and out. Then I found this article! What a relief to know I didn’t have to pay for a dr. to do this procedure, like I have done before when I had insurance. I immediately found the Water Pik 450 at a Best Buy near by, bought a few bottles of peroxide, anxiously waited the 24 hrs of charging time, filled the reservoir and finally tried it this afternoon over the side of the bathtub. WOW!! Great investment! Worked immediately in 10 sec. intervals and I only had to use 1 bottle. I can hear again and I can’t get over how much wax came out!! So quick!! No pain. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS TIP!!! I will be using this from now on and will try to keep my ears from getting impacted in the first place. And, I’ll also use the Water Pik for my teeth!

  34. Just have to say THANK YOU for this article. I don’t even know how I stumbled on it. I think I was looking for ways to unclog ears with hydrogen peroxide. After flying home from Europe two weeks ago with a really bad cold my right ear has been completely muffled. I thought I had a broken ear drum but the doctor thought it might be wax so told me to start using mineral oil. Absolutely nothing happened. They said to come back and they would flush out my ear but I saw this article first.

    I have a portable WaterPik and even at the lowest setting it was too strong. You were right. Then I saw the squeeze bottles but decided to buy the whole irrigation set on Amazon. It arrived about an hour ago and it worked first time. Hurray! The instructions did say to use vinegar with water or HP and I had HP on hand. The most disgusting chunk of black tar came out of my ear I have ever seen. And yes I can hear again. I have no doubt if I had a regular WaterPik it would have worked the same way.

    Thank you so much for this vital information. I did dry my ear with the alcohol Swim drops just in case extra water was stuck in there. Years ago a doctor cleaned out that ear with water and didn’t put anything in there after to dry it out. I developed a severe infection from the water. It was one of the most painful things i have ever had in my life. So be careful with that.

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