Earwax Removal with Olive Oil

How to Remove Earwax Using Olive Oil

Oct 15, 2018
Olive Oil


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Do you ever experience a deafening buildup of ear wax? It usually just builds up naturally. Here’s my favorite method of earwax removal: using olive oil!

Earwax Removal with Olive Oil

You should never attempt to dig out earwax buildup yourself. However, you’ll often be able to get rid of the excess earwax yourself.

Years ago my doctor recommended an olive-oil and warm-water procedure to remove a buildup of earwax safely at home. When I suspect the wax buildup, I get out my gear:

  • an eye-dropper
  • a hand-held bulb syringe 
  • a little olive oil

I sterilize the dropper and the syringe in boiling water, warm (to skin temperature) some oil on the stove, and use the eye-dropper to insert a few drops of the warmed oil into each ear, tilting my head to one side to allow the oil to flow down into my ear canal.

I then go to sleep for the night, placing a cotton ball in my ear and a towel on my pillow to absorb any oil leaks.

In the morning, I fill the syringe with warm water and, kneeling in my bathtub, tilt my head sideways and deliver a strong squirt into each ear. Sometimes it takes a few swishes of warm water and a few good shakes of the head before the wax ball slides out.

Don’t use a pressurized device (e.g., a Water Pick) to flush out the wax, as it could damage your eardrum. Also avoid using tools like Q-Tips, as they could push the wax deeper into the ear.

Occasionally, I have to repeat the process another evening. Other times, the wax comes out without any warm-water syringing.

For decades, this technique has worked well for me. But if I experienced pain, swelling, or unusual sensations in my ear before or after using this technique, I’d definitely see my doctor.

Words of Caution

Doctors warn against removing ear wax unless symptoms develop (sense of pressure/swooshing, ringing, or roaring in the ears). Earwax serves important health benefits: It lubricates and cleans the ear canal, picking up bits of dirt, dust, and dead skin that stick to it on the way out. The wax also contains antibacterial substances that help prevent infection. It generally removes itself without help.

Experts also warn against poking cotton swabs or anything else into your ears that might push the wax ball further down into the ear canal. Wearing ear buds for MP3 listening or ear plugs for sleep may also encourage wax buildup by blocking its normal exit route.

Interesting Earwax

Frugal folks in times past have used earwax for a variety of purposes:

  • Medieval scribes mixed earwax (among many other substances) to prepare the pigments they used to illustrate illuminated manuscripts.
  • The 1832 edition of the American Frugal Housewife recommended earwax as a remedy for cracked lips and noted that “nothing was better than earwax to prevent the painful effects resulting from a wound by a nail [or] skewer.”
  • Dating back to medieval times, seamstresses would sometimes use their own earwax to stop the cut ends of threads from fraying.

Learn More

Want more home remedies? Check out Natural Remedies for Migraines, Natural Remedies for Cough Relief, or even Home Remedies for Pets!

About This Blog

"Living Naturally" is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that's good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, and ideas to make your home a healthy, safe haven. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it's relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Reader Comments

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dealing with an ear infection

This is a subject I relate strongly to. I've used olive oil for my ears, using a dropper, then flushing them with a 50ml vet syringe, for many years. It really is the best way. A doctor I had 50 years ago (back when doctors were doctors), suggested a drop or two of oil each day or so, just to keep the wax soft and easy to remove. I think it's good to put a drop or two in the ears after a syringe job, to keep a thin film of oil where the wax has just been removed....
Once in a blue moon I'd get an itchy infection and it'd hard to resist the temptation to poke around with a cotton bud; I remember being warned to never put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow. But this itchy infection is easily sorted out with garlic juice; the method being to make a mix of garlic juice with a ration of 1 part juice to 5 or 6 parts pure water. Exactly what ratio one uses is dependent on one's pain threshold. A couple of mill in the ear canal and tilt the head to keep it there .... should only take a couple of minutes. The slight pain is the action of the infection being killed; once the pain stops, the infection - and that annoying itch - are gone. Garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic and has many ways of being used for all kinds of things. (Some people even eat the stuff)
That's my method of ear care - olive oil, a small syringe and a garlic juicer if needed. The trick I've never learned though is to do these things as soon as there's a need to rather than wait until I can't stand it anymore ....

Have you ever experienced of

Have you ever experienced of swelling in some part inside of your ear?



My 2 year old had visited the

My 2 year old had visited the Dr. for wellness check up and stated that we should add drops of olive oil in his ears due to the buildup of wax in his ear. We had tried it, but I was still not sure, but I will have to try again due to the amount that seems stuck in the canal & this blog does a better job of explanation. Also I did use hydrogen peroxide on two occasions with my 8 & 7 yr old. I had seen on true stories of ER where a man had a bug lodged in his ear and they used it to kill the bug and it was safe for ear. It was such a strange story it stuck with me and one evening my son came to me and said he had a bug stuck in his ear and I tried the method and there was a bug and the ear Dr. said I did good in using the H. Peroxide to drown the bug and keep the ear disinfected. Another occasion my 7 yr old was crying complaining of his ear and afraid of another bug repeat I did the same thing w/ the H. Peroxide, but a hug ball of wax came out and it eased his pain, but next morning Dr. said it was ear infection. Hope this helps.

Thanks for your response!

Thanks for your response! Peroxide is a useful anti-germicidal agent with many uses. Great as a mouthwash, for sanitizing cutting boards, and more. Would make a good blog post--look for it soon!

The final takeaway: when the gentle, well-tested home remedy doesn't do the trick, see the doctor.

ear wax removal

My doctor suggested a few drops of hydrogen peroxide which liquifies the wax. One can hear the mixture "boiling". When the action stops, tilt the head and the liquified wax will run out.


I've read and heard about adding hydrogen peroxide to the ear solution.
So far, the plain olive oil has worked its magic alone, so I've never needed it, though.

Olive oil, peroxide, warm water &ear wax

My oldest son had this problem as a child. My father had learned in the air force to put peroxide in n let it bubble. This method worked great for him. For my son n me it was almost painful. My doctor recommended a CPL drops of "sweet oil" in ear w cotton ball. Then fill a large bowl with comfortably warm water with 2-3 capsule of peroxide. Use THIS water to squirting w bulb syringe to get the wax out then a drop or 2 oil a week for maintenance. (Sweet oil is olive oil. And it took 2 stores n a pharmacist before I learned that!) This has prevented so much suffering in our house!

Cotton swabs

Cotton swaps work best and only if you don't use them regularly does one get a wax ball.

Cotton swabs?

Whoa, Joe! I've always heard that using cotton swabs in ears for any purpose is a bad idea.
A swab can push a wax ball further into the ear canal, cause abrasions, even perforate the eardrum. Also, the cotton end can pull off the stick and become lodged in the ear.

Not really, no

Some of us get earwax buildup no matter what we do or how conscientious we are with our ear hygiene, if you will. It doesn't indicate a failure on the part of the person with the buildup. Also, cotton swabs are fine to use in the external part of the ear if needed, but should never ever be put into the ear canal, no matter how much it may seem or feel like a good idea. You could puncture an eardrum, but even if you don't, you stand a very good chance of creating a blockage or making an existing one worse.


Do you find you get oil on your pillow?

Oil on my pillow?

I forgot to mention: I generally place big cotton balls in the outside opening of each ear to keep the oil from oozing onto my pillow.

atta girl

U B a smart girl to keep handy! A looker, knower and doer.

Ear wax removal

I will try the olive oil, I have waxey ears and they itch,Qtips are no good as newer ones bend to darn fast and wont do as they should , I have tried most ways to stop the itch. Best way to stop it is use my truck key, it gets to the area and I can get the itching to stop.


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