Can ear drops remove ear wax?

by | May 13, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Best Ear Drops for Clearing Wax: A Comprehensive Guide



Ear wax, also known as cerumen, is a natural substance produced by the glands in the ear canal. It protects, cleans, and lubricates the ears. However, excessive build-up of this wax can lead to discomfort, hearing loss, and even tinnitus. This is where ear wax removal drops come into play. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of the best ear drops for clearing wax.

Current NHS guidelines state, “If your ears are blocked with earwax, put 2 to 3 drops of medical-grade olive or almond oil in your ear 3 to 4 times a day. Do this for 3 to 5 days.”

There is a BUT coming! Whilst it is generally agreed that using olive oil will usually soften earwax, there is no evidence that the earwax will then spontaneously come out of the ears. Often, after using olive oil in the ears, a person will complain that their ear is now worse than before. This can happen due to the wax softening, expanding and sometimes moving closer to the eardrum. What may start out as a lump of wax stuck in the middle of the ear canal can turn into a honey-like substance that moves closer to the eardrum, creating a trickier wax removal procedure.

Understanding Ear Wax Build-up

Before we discuss the best ear drops for clearing ear wax, it’s essential to understand why this build-up occurs. The primary reason is an overproduction of cerumen by your body. Other factors include narrow or hairy ear canals, ageing (which makes the wax drier), and the use of hearing aids or earplugs that prevent natural wax discharge.

The symptoms of excessive earwax include a feeling of fullness in the ears, partial hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), itching, odour and discharge. If you experience these symptoms frequently, it’s time to consider using effective ear wax removal drops.

What are the best ear drops for wax removal?

Typically, there are water-based and oil-based ear drops. Water based include sodium bicarbonate drops and urea hydrogen peroxide drops. Oil based drops include olive oil and almond oil. All ear wax drops and sprays aim to make the wax thinner and softer by being absorbed by the ear wax. Furthermore, they can lubricate the layer of skin lining the ear canal, helping the wax to move outwards a little easier.  In addition, water-based ear wax drops and sprays tend to have some breaking-up action on ear wax.  You will often hear a fizzing noise in the ear when using these more active types of drops.

Unfortunately, the use of drops alone rarely gets rid of problematic ear wax. It may make it easier to remove but, in some cases, can make it more difficult for a hearcare professional. The ear wax can become so soft and sticky that it actually moves closer to the eardrum, making removal more difficult.

Can sodium bicarbonate drops be used to remove ear wax?

These water-based drops are often used to break up an soften impacted wax, however as mentioned previously, it is unlikely the wax will fall out of the ear canal. Further, ear wax removal techniques are usually necessary which requires careful examination of the ears using specialist equipment.

How long should you use ear drops for wax removal?

To assist with ear wax removal by a specialist, ear drops can be used prior to an appointment. Often, a few days of using ear drops will be enough. It is best to let your ear professional give you advice on the use of drops any longer than a few days.

How do Otex ear drops work?

The active ingredient in Otex ear drops is urea hydrogen peroxide. These drops attempt to break up the ear wax into smaller pieces, hoping that they will fall out of the ear naturally. As discussed previously, in most cases, a trained professional in ear wax removal will be necessary to remove ear wax, even if it is softened by ear drops.

How to use sofradex eardrops

Sofradex eardrops are no longer available due to them being discontinued. They were used to treat mild external ear inflammation/infection and contained antibiotic and corticosteroid to fight infection and soothe inflammation.

How long does ciprofloxacin ear drops take to work?

These are medically prescribed drops used to treat infections of the outer (external ear). The GP or medical professional prescribing these drops will inform you how long they must be used for. Typically, this will be for a period of seven days.

How To Use Ear Wax Removal Drops

Using ear wax removal drops is relatively straightforward. Here are the general steps:

1. Tilt your head sideways or lie down with the affected ear facing up.
2. Apply the recommended number of drops into your ear.
3. Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds; the longer, the better, to allow the drops to penetrate and soften the wax.
4. Afterward, gently rinse out your ear with warm (not hot) water using a bulb syringe if provided.
5. Repeat this process once or twice daily as needed or as directed by your doctor.

Precautions When Using Ear Drops

While ear drops are generally safe to use, there are a few precautions you should take:

1. Always follow the instructions on the package or as directed by your healthcare provider.
2. Do not use if you have a perforated eardrum, an ear infection, or if you’re allergic to any of the ingredients in the product.
3. If symptoms persist after using an over-the-counter product for a few days, consult with a healthcare professional.


Ear wax build-up can be an annoying and sometimes painful condition that affects many people worldwide. Thankfully, numerous over-the-counter products are available designed specifically for clearing ear wax effectively and safely.

Remember that while these products can relieve symptoms associated with excessive earwax build-up, they should not replace professional medical advice or treatment. If symptoms persist after using these products, consulting with a healthcare professional is essential.

In conclusion, finding the best ear drops for clearing wax ultimately depends on personal preference and individual needs.

Limitations of using eardrops

As discussed, ear drops and sprays do not instantly remove ear wax. They may make things worse for a while, too. For hearing aid users, this can be a real problem. Occasionally, ear wax drops and sprays can result in ear infections and irritation. This is more likely in people who have eczema or a history of developing ear infections.

Ear wax drops and sprays are also often not recommended to be used if:

  • You have an allergy to the ear drops and sprays or any of their ingredients
  • You have a perforation of your eardrum or a grommet in place
  • You currently have an ear infection
  • You have previously had problems using ear wax drops and sprays in the past

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