Part of proper hearing aid maintenance is proper ear hygiene. A hearing aid can easily become dislodged if too much wax builds up in the ear. When build up occurs, the sound produced by the hearing aid can come across intermittent or rife with static. Just like hearing aids are delicate, so too are your ears; both require special care and attention during cleaning.

The most important rule to abide by when cleaning your ears is to avoid inserting anything into the ear, such as a cotton-tipped swab or applicator. Doing so poses the risk of pushing wax deeper into the ear canal, worsening any hearing issues. It also puts you at risk of rupturing an ear canal or drum.

Establish a routine

Clean your ears (the outside) on a regular basis. Make sure to wipe the outside of your ears with a warm, damp cloth daily. Ears will need to be cleaned more deeply if enough earwax accumulates to cause certain symptoms. Ears should be cleaned deeply if you experience an earache, fullness in the ear or a sensation the ear is plugged, partial hearing loss which may seem progressive, tinnitus or other ringing in the ear, itching, odor or discharge from the hear, or persistent coughing.

At-home remedies to clean your ears

To clean ears, first try at-home treatments, such as mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin or commercial drops. Place the drops into the ear, allow the drops to soften the wax and flush the drops and wax out with a bulb and warm waters.

Over-the-counter earwax removal kits are also available at most grocery stores and drug stores. These softening drops are put into the ears, while holding to the head to the side, and then allowed to drain out after five minutes. Sitting up will let the drops drain out naturally. To rid the ear of any excess fluid, a bulb-type syringe, usually included in the kits, may be used to gently flush the ear with warm water.

Doctors recommend against ear candling, a method in which a hollow cone made of beeswax and paraffin with cloth on a tapered end. The cloth is placed into the ear. A second person lights the wax end, holding your hair to avoid the flame. The theory goes that a vacuum is created as the flame burns, drawing the wax from the ear. However, limited clinical trials prove otherwise.

Talk to your hearing care professional

A hearing healthcare professional can also engage in manual earwax removal, if you find at-home remedies still don’t solve your earwax issues. Make an appointment with your hearing healthcare professional if all at-home remedies fail or you experience excess amounts of earwax, despite constant upkeep.

Remember, earwax is natural and is protective, lubricating and has antibacterial properties in normal amounts. However, too much earwax can cause issues for those who wear hearing aids.