Earwax protects your ears from dust, pollen, and bacteria. These contaminants adhere to the sticky layer of wax and can be safely removed with cotton swabs. Excess earwax that collects deeper in the ear canal, however, can harden over time and cause itching or partial hearing loss. Earwax removal kits use different approaches to remove this unwanted buildup without the risk of puncturing an eardrum or triggering an infection. If you are in the market for a safe and effective way to remove excess earwax, our shopping guide outlines all you need to know before you buy. We picked our favorite kit because it isn't invasive but still powerful enough to clean the entire canal.
Considerations when choosing earwax removal kits
The proper use of earwax removal kits can offer a number of benefits. Here are some reasons to consider investing in an earwax removal kit.
Improved hearing: Many people do not realize that their hearing has been compromised until they use an earwax removal kit. Excessive earwax buildup can be the root cause behind minor hearing loss. Removing this excess wax will improve the situation dramatically.
Better hygiene: Excess earwax can become very unsightly and even develop an unpleasant odor. By maintaining a regular ear cleaning and wax removal regimen, overall ear health is vastly improved.
Lower health-care costs: If left unchecked, excessive earwax buildup can lead to ear infections, pressure headaches, and compromised hearing. Professional examinations and treatments with an ear, nose, and throat specialist can be expensive. Using an approved earwax removal kit at home can minimize the need for professional treatments.
Considerations when choosing earwax removal kits
There are currently three different types of earwax removal kits on the market, each with their advantages and disadvantages. When shopping for an earwax removal kit, consumers should consider their own personal preferences and abilities. Some methods require assistance for the best and safest results.
Some earwax removal kits use a large syringe to shoot warm water directly into the ear canal. The pressure of the water forcefully removes the excess earwax, and a soft bulb is used to suction out the fluid. The advantages of a water irrigation system include low cost, no need for chemical softeners, and no invasive probing. The disadvantages include a loud noise during use and the need for a separate container for drainage. Water irrigators can also require several sessions before the earwax is completely removed. You should expect to pay between $5 and $50 for an at-home water irrigation system.
Another approach to earwax removal is the use of liquid chemicals to loosen and remove the buildup. Hydrogen peroxide is one common ingredient used to soften earwax, along with carbamide peroxide and baby oil. Various herbal blends in a solution can also be used. The main advantage of chemical softeners is their power to soften earwax that has hardened in the ear canal. Some users may be sensitive to the active ingredients, however, and irrigation is still required. Expect to pay between $4 and $20 for most over-the-counter chemical softeners.
Metal or plastic curettes are specially designed for insertion in the ear canal to gently dislodge excess earwax without damaging the eardrum. For the best angle, you will probably need assistance when using medical curettes, however. Some curettes can damage the ear canal or eardrum if not positioned correctly. The average price of a curette set is generally between $6 and $15, although a medical-grade stainless steel set can cost $30 or more.
Q. Why shouldn't I use cotton swabs to remove excess earwax? I'm always very careful.
A. Earwax is naturally produced only in the outer third of the human ear. A cotton swab can push some of that wax deeper into the ear canal and cause more problems than it solves. Using a sterile earwax softening solution or a medical-grade curette to remove excess earwax reduces the chances of infection and damage to the eardrum.
Q. Should I even bother to remove earwax? Doesn't the inner ear require wax to trap dirt and other toxins?
A. Most of the time, the human body produces just enough earwax to protect the ear from outside contaminants, such as dust and bacteria. However, earwax production can become excessive at times, and the results are partial hearing loss or painful pressure. Removing this excess or hardened earwax is a good hygienic practice if performed safely.
Earwax removal kits we recommend
Best of the best: Doctor Easy Elephant Ear Washer Bottle System
Our take: This earwax removal kit has the pressure to irrigate the entire ear canal but doesn't rely on curettes or other invasive tools.
What we like: The nozzle cannot penetrate too far into the ear canal. The results are professional without having to make an office visit.
What we dislike: The nozzle tips may have sharp edges and can be difficult to position without assistance. Some users report an extremely loud noise during use.
Best bang for your buck: ETEREAUTY Six-Piece Curette Earwax Removal Kit
Our take: The multifunctional metal curettes in this earwax removal kit are safer replacements for traditional cotton swabs.
What we like: The six curettes, some with double tips, address a multitude of earwax removal issues. Medical-grade stainless steel instruments are easy to clean and store between uses.
What we dislike: Instructions are poorly written. Metal curettes can be painful to use without proper training or experience.
Our take: An easy-to-use and very safe earwax removal kit that uses a chemical softener.
What we like: No invasive instruments. A single-dose pipette reduces the chances of using too much or too little solution.
What we dislike: Treatment requires 30 minutes of downtime. The active ingredient can be very sticky and resistant to irrigation.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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