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How To Massage Ear Wax - Ultimate Guide

Earwax is a natural combination of ear canal secretions and dead skin cells. It originally protects your ears from dust, debris, and even insects. However, excessive earwax buildup can lead to discomfort, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness in the ear.

While there are various methods for ear wax removal, ear massage can be a gentle and effective first approach, particularly for loosening stubborn ear wax buildup. With ear health problems becoming a concern for 60% of Canadians over age 19, taking this lightly poses a risk.

Woman having ear massage

*Image doesn’t exactly show ear massage technique described below, recommend that we remove it

This article will guide you through the process of ear massage and explores other effective methods and preventive measures for managing ear wax buildup. If pain or unusual symptoms are present, consult a healthcare professional to prevent complications.

What Is Ear Massage?

Ear massage is a gentle manipulation of the outer ear area specifically aimed at loosening ear wax buildup in the ear canal. It involves applying pressure and making specific motions around the ear to encourage the natural movement of earwax outwards.

Here’s a breakdown of the key aspects of ear massage:

  • Focuses on the Outer Ear: Ear massage targets the area around the ear canal, not venturing inside it. This avoids any risk of damaging the delicate eardrum.

  • Gentle Pressure and Movement: The massage uses light finger pressure and circular motions to stimulate the ear canal walls and potentially loosen any stuck earwax.

  • Promotes Natural Drainage: By loosening the wax, ear massage can help excess wax drain out of the ear canal naturally.

Ear wax massage is a simple, safe technique you can try at home for managing earwax buildup. However, it’s important to remember that it might not be effective for everyone, especially in cases of excessive or stubborn earwax.

Limit Your Cotton Swab Usage

Before exploring massage techniques, understand why healthcare professionals do not recommend cotton swabs for ear wax removal. Cotton swabs can actually push wax deeper into the ear canal, causing further impaction and potentially damaging the delicate eardrum.

Girl cleans her ear with a cotton swab

Reserve cotton swabs for cleaning the external or outer part of the ear. Now, let’s discuss how to massage earwax out safely and easily.

3 Easy Steps On How To Massage Ear Wax Out

Simply massaging ear wax out of the ear can be enough to soften and remove ear wax blockage naturally. Below is an easy-to-follow guide on how to massage ear wax out.

Step 1: Preparation

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water to prevent introducing bacteria into your ear canal. While not essential for the massage itself, you can consider incorporating an olive oil treatment beforehand to further loosen the earwax buildup. Here’s how:

  • Warm a few drops of olive oil using a spoon placed in a cup of warm water (not hot). The oil should be lukewarm and not too hot to touch.

  • Using a dropper, gently place 2-3 drops of the warmed olive oil into the affected ear canal.

  • Lie on your side with the affected ear facing upwards for 10-15 minutes. This allows the oil to soften the earwax.

Step 2: Massage

Place your pointer and middle fingers behind your earlobe, near the skull base, then gently massage. Apply gentle pressure and make slow, circular motions for about 30 seconds. This helps loosen the wax from the ear canal walls.

Step 3: Tilt and Drain

Once finished massaging, tilt your head to the side with the affected ear facing upwards. This allows any loosened wax to naturally drain out of the ear canal.

Pro Tip: You can repeat this massage technique 2-3 times a day for several days to see if the earwax loosens and drains on its own.

8 Other Methods To Use With Ear Massage

Ear massage can be even more effective when combined with other safe earwax removal methods. Ear massage loosens, not removes. This method primarily works by stimulating the ear canal walls and loosening the earwax buildup and doesn’t directly remove the wax itself.

Here are safe methods you may use alongside ear massage for a more comprehensive approach to earwax removal and finding relief from wax accumulation.

1. Warm Compress

Apply a damp, warm cloth to the outer ear for a few minutes. The warmth helps soften the earwax, making it easier to dislodge with the massage.

2. Olive Oil Drops or Natural Oils

Place a few drops of warmed olive oil or natural oils in the affected ear using a dropper. These can serve as a natural lubricant to soften earwax buildup. Lie on your side for 10-15 minutes with the affected ear facing upwards to allow the oil to work.

3. Over-the-Counter Drops

For stubborn earwax, drugstores offer over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide drops. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as using too much or using it incorrectly can irritate the ear canal.

4. Ear Irrigation

If the above methods prove ineffective, a bulb syringe filled with warm water can be used to irrigate the ear canal. However, this technique should be done with caution and only after consulting a healthcare professional, especially if you have a history of ear infections, a perforated eardrum, or have undergone ear surgery.

Important Note: Avoid using hot water or excessive force during irrigation, as this can damage the ear canal and eardrum.

5. Earwax Removal Kit

Some drugstores sell earwax removal kits containing a bulb syringe and saline solution. These kits can be a safe option for home earwax removal, but always follow the instructions carefully.

6. Mineral Oil

Similar to olive oil, a few drops of mineral oil can be used to soften earwax buildup. However, avoid using mineral oil if you have sensitive skin or a history of ear infections.

7. Prescription Ear Drops

In cases of excessive earwax buildup or a suspected ear infection, a healthcare professional may prescribe stronger ear drops to soften and remove the wax.

8. Consult a Healthcare Professional

It’s important to seek professional medical advice if you experience persistent ear pain, hearing loss, dizziness, or any signs of an ear infection alongside earwax blockage.

Visit a professional ear cleaning Toronto clinic if earwax blockage persists for more than a week or two, even after trying safe home remedies like ear massage.

Risks of Removing Ear Wax Yourself

While ear massage and other home remedies can be effective for some, attempting earwax removal yourself can come with risks, especially with stubborn ear wax. In this case, seek professional ear clinic Toronto services to safely remove ear wax and avoid any potential damage to your ear health.

Watch out for the following risks when removing ear wax at home:

  • Pushing Earwax Deeper: Improper techniques, especially using cotton swabs, can push the earwax deeper into the ear canal, causing further impaction.

  • Eardrum Perforation: Using sharp objects like a metal extraction tool or excessive force during earwax removal can damage the eardrum, leading to hearing loss and potential infections.

  • Ear Infection: Introducing bacteria or irritants into the ear canal during earwax removal can increase the risk of ear infections.

  • Ear Candling. Although some consider ear candles a “natural solution”, they are ineffective and can pose risks like burns and damage to ear canals.

When in doubt, always consult a doctor or an audiologist for professional earwax removal. Below are noteworthy signs that indicate an ear clinic visit might be necessary:

  • Sensitive Eardrums, Hearing Aids, or Past Ear Issues: Individuals with sensitive eardrums, hearing aids, or a history of ear infections or ear surgery should consult a professional for earwax removal. These factors can increase the risk of complications during self-removal attempts.

  • Persistent Symptoms: If your earwax blockage persists for more than a week or two, even after trying safe home remedies, it’s best to see a doctor for evaluation and potential removal.

  • Pain and Discomfort: Persistent ear pain, especially if it’s severe or throbbing, warrants a doctor’s visit to rule out any underlying conditions.

  • Hearing Loss: Noticeable hearing loss alongside ear blockage is a cause for concern and requires professional attention.

  • Dizziness or Vertigo: Dizziness or a spinning sensation (vertigo) associated with earwax buildup necessitates a professional evaluation.

  • Ear Infection Signs: Symptoms like fever, redness, or pus drainage from the ear could indicate an ear infection, requiring prompt medical attention.

  • Foul Odour: A less common but noteworthy symptom is a foul smell coming from the ear, which could signal an infection or other complications.

  • Cough: Earwax buildup can trigger a reflex cough due to the shared nerves between the ear and throat. While not a typical symptom, it’s worth mentioning.

  • Hearing Aid Malfunction: If you have hearing aids, excessive earwax can hinder their effectiveness. A professional cleaning can restore proper function.

  • Partial or Worsening Hearing Loss: Left untreated, earwax blockage can worsen, potentially leading to more significant hearing impairment.

For cases of ear wax removal with tinnitus, book an appointment at a tinnitus clinic in Toronto staffed by qualified professionals who can address both earwax concerns and tinnitus management.


Ear massage is a safe and natural technique to help loosen and remove earwax buildup. However, it’s important to understand its limitations and prioritize your ear health. If earwax persists or you experience any discomfort, don’t hesitate to seek professional medical advice for safe and effective earwax removal.