Our Ear Wax Error: Why You Should Never Use Q-Tips in Your Ears

Ask any doctor worth their salt if you should use Q-Tips in your ears and you’ll get the same response every time. That response? Definitely, undoubtedly, unquestionably no. What’s the company doing, then, you might ask, advertising the cleaning of ears? Well… they don’t. On the back of Q-Tip packaging, the following disclaimer makes itself plain: “Do not insert swab into ear canal. Entering the ear canal could cause injury.” If you’re shocked by this revelation, you’re not alone. Despite definite criticism of the use of Q-Tips for the insides of ears by doctors and businessmen alike, consumers continue to use them in this way. The reason? We’re all convinced that these adorable little swabs are doing wonders for the ear wax stuck in our ears. Here’s the truth.


Ear Wax Is Good for You

Even if Q-Tips do actually do wonders for the ear wax in your ears, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Ear wax, as much as we might hate to admit it, is actually pretty beneficial for our bodies. Ear wax captures and expels things like dirt and dust that would otherwise have a clear route into our bodies. And, yes, that includes small objects like… tiny insects. Thanks, ear wax. Ear wax also happens to be antibacterial, and is rather good at trapping and killing illness-causing microorganisms. Believe it. And when you get too much ear wax in your body? Your body has what has been dubbed the ear wax “conveyor belt mechanism.” This mechanism causes wax to shuffle from your inner ear to your outer ear, and then to fall away as you do natural things like talking and chewing. Gross, yet awesome.


Q-Tips Are Bad for You

So where do Q-Tips come in? Most people use them on both the outer and the inner ear to clean away the ear wax that builds up there. Seems harmless enough, right? Well, using Q-Tips in your inner ear can do one or all of the following at some point: damage the skin of your ear canal, introduce illness-causing bacteria, puncture your ear drum, and plug your ear canal with ear wax. By the way, a plugged ear canal can cause pain or muffled hearing- and roughly 50% of American suffer from a plugged ear canal. No wonder we can’t ever hear each other properly.


Don’t Hate the Player

It really isn’t Q-Tips’ fault that we’re all using their product incorrectly. They even tell us we’re using it incorrectly. It’s a cultural norm to “clean” our ears of ear wax with Q-Tips- but we’ve got it all wrong. According to medical studies, we need to learn to love our ear wax, and we need to learn when to quit swabbing while we’re ahead. Our bodies will take care of everything. So, the next time you pick up a Q-Tip, consider using it for a fun craft project instead of for jamming more ear wax into the back of your ear canal. Your body will thank you.