How to use olive oil in your ears

What to do before your ear wax removal appointment

Our quick guide to using olive oil in your ears

Please complete the following steps for a minimum of four consecutive evenings before your ear wax removal appointment:

  1. Lie down on your side with your ear facing the ceiling.
  2. Pull the top tip of your ear backwards and upwards and put 2-3 drops (or sprays) of medicated olive oil in that ear.
  3. Massage the area around that ear and then stay lying on your side for 10 minutes.
  4. Sit up and wipe away any excess oil with a tissue.
  5. Swap sides and repeat for the other ear.

If you need ear wax softening olive oil spay, you can buy Earol Olive Oil Spay from our online shop. Please allow up to 48 hours for the processing and delivery of your order. You can also buy Cl-Ear Ear Spray from us in clinic.

For further guidance, please contact our hearing care experts.

Our full guide to marinating your ear wax

Learn how and why you should always use olive oil in your ears before your ear wax removal appointment
Why marinate your ear wax?

Ear wax. It comes in many different consistencies and it takes trust and teamwork to extract it. Qualified hearing care professionals have the skills, expertise, and equipment, but they need you to prepare your ears as well.

If you have an appointment for ear wax removal, most professionals will recommend that you soften your ear wax prior to your appointment with a medicated olive oil. This is to ensure that your ear wax is removed as comfortably and as efficiently as possible.

Why use olive oil in your ears?

With all of the different lotions and potions out there, why olive oil? Many reasons. The biggest one is it helps to soften ear wax the right amount. Some wax removal remedies like sodium bicarbonate, or urea hydrogen peroxide drops can turn the wax into a watery, sticky substance which is very difficult to dislodge with microsuction and wouldn’t leave your ear canal as clear as you’d hoped. On rare occasions, some waxes do need a bit more oomph to get shifted but, as a starting point, olive oil is a great all-rounder.

Using olive oil in your ears also makes the ear wax removal procedure more comfortable for you; if you have dry wax, trying to peel oil-free debris from your ear canal could feel pinchy and sharp, which we can all agree would be quite an unpleasant experience.

Similarly, if you’re prone to dry skin on the body, there’s a good chance you may also be prone to dry skin in the ear canals. This can not only feel uncomfortable, but may also produce a high-pitched whistling noise from the suction probe when removing it. In these instances, some folks discover the sensation of extracting dry debris stimulates the vagus nerve in their canal, with the response ranging from a tickling sensation right the way to a teary-eyed coughing fit!

Medicated olive oil helps to moisturise the dry skin, reducing the likelihood of discomfort, and allows any shedded skin to be removed with ease.

Is it safe to use olive oil in your ears?

Generally it is safe to use a medicated olive oil in your ears. As a natural substance, the chances of irritation occurring from olive oil are slim, whereas, alternatives, such as sodium bicarbonate and peroxide, fizz in the ear canal, which can cause inflammation and tenderness, particularly for those with sensitive skin.

If you have a perforated eardrum, do not use any drops, sprays, or liquids of any kind in your ears, unless cleared with your GP or ENT consultant beforehand.

Very occasionally, patients might not be aware that they have a hole or perforation in their eardrum. As such, out of all the drops to have in your ears, olive oil would cause the least damage in this situation. If you can taste something funny when using sprays in your ear, this can be an indication that your eardrum isn’t intact.

Additionally, if you have a history of ear problems, such as recurrent ear infections, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any at-home remedies, including olive oil usage.

What sort of olive oil should I use in my ears?

Most professionals would advise that you only use a medicated olive oil in your ears. You can use alternative oils, like nut oils, but this is not usually advised as some people may find that they are allergic to it. Whilst baby oil is harmless, it won’t be very effective in softening your ear wax. It’s too light in texture. In a pinch, can you use olive oil from your kitchen?… No, please only use a medicated olive oil in your ears.

We recommend both Earol Olive Oil Spray and Cl-Ear Ear Spray (not Relief) for softening ear wax prior to our ear wax removal. Earol is a very popular choice with patients because it is very easy to use, even for those with limited dexterity, having a simple and unique delivery system, capable of dispensing a discrete unit dose of olive oil into the outer ear.

Which is best, a dropper or a spray? The answer is whichever is easiest for you! For clinical practice, using a spray, like Earol, creates lots of fine droplets that can cover a wider area, and the nozzle guides it into the ear to the right depth, which is really useful if you’re busy.

Can I use warm water to soften ear wax?

Warm water has no significant effect on wax softening. The drops we recommend are designed to soften ear wax and make wax removal comfortable, and the slightly heavier olive oil aids in this process without harming the ear.

Using a shower head directly to soften ear wax isn’t recommended, apart from being ineffective, the water’s force could push the wax deeper into the ear canal or cause injury to the eardrum.

Need more help?

For further guidance on using olive oil to soften your ear wax, or for any other query regarding your ear wax removal appointment, please contact our hearing care experts.

How to use olive oil in your ears

Applying olive oil in your ears is typically something you can do yourself without assistance. However, seeking assistance might be helpful if you have reduced dexterity, difficulty lying down on your side, sitting and turning your head to one side, or difficulty reaching your ears due to reduced movement of the arms.

Just like how not all ear waxes are the same, not all ears are the same too. Your ear canal is not necessarily a straight line from your ear to your eardrum. Some are C shapes, S shapes, or Z shapes. Some ear canal entrances are narrow, and some ear canals are so steep we have to rest our cheek on your chest to look into them.

Because of this, simply tilting your head to the side to put oil in won’t quite do the trick. For best results we advise that you pull your ear backwards and upwards, as this action will help to open up your ear canal as wide as possible. Additionally, lying flat on your side ensures that gravity works with you, letting the oil trickle deeper into your ear, giving it the best chance of being properly absorbed after 10 minutes.

Massaging the area where your jaw joins your ear will move your ear canal which will help the oil to get into any little gaps that open up. Opening and closing your mouth can also help to move the oil just that little bit more. You don’t need to warm up the oil prior to application, as it won’t particularly affect the way it works, but if you want to warm it up to body temperature by holding the bottle in your hands for a few minutes beforehand, this can be more comfortable for some.

In some cases, particularly if you’re prone to dry or compacted ear wax, the wax drinks up the oil, and it may swell. This in turn might make you feel like your hearing is reduced, or like you’ve got a build up of pressure in the ear, which may cause some discomfort.

Although this temporary feeling isn’t fun, it’s completely normal and a good sign that the oil is reaching the right spot and working as it should. However, if you experience any significant pain, please stop and seek advice from your doctor.

You can find our step-by-step instructions to using olive oil in your ears, above.

When is the best time to use olive oil in my ears?

It’s best to apply medicated olive oil in the evening, to reduce the chances of any oil coming out of your ears whilst you’re socialising or working during the day.

It’s a good idea to protect your bedding after applying olive oil to our ears, especially if you’re concerned about staining. While olive oil is generally absorbed by the skin, there’s always a possibility of some residue transferring to your pillowcase or sheets. To prevent this, you can place a towel or cloth over your pillow before sleeping, or use an old pillowcase you don’t mind getting oil residue on.

Do not be tempted to put cotton wool balls or any other sponge-like materials in your ears after applying oil in an attempt to keep it in. The cotton wool will absorb and draw the oil out, away from the wax, undermining your efforts to soften it and potentially resulting in the need for additional wax removal appointments.

How often should I use olive oil in my ears?

Professional microsuction is now recommended as the safest and most comfortable way to remove excess ear wax. With microsuction, using a medicated olive oil for four days is often enough to soften it sufficiently for removal.

However, if you know your wax is rather soft, three days may be sufficient, and, if your wax is compacted, we recommend that you use olive oil for up to seven days to ensure the oil has made it through to the back of the wax build-up. That being said, if your drops have been prescribed by a doctor or other medical professional, you should follow the instructions provided with the product.

Those who are prone to very oily skin may find that they don’t necessarily need olive oil drops, as their wax is naturally very soft. In such cases, the use of olive oil drops may saturate the wax in their ears, turning it to a viscose paint-like consistency. This can make microsuction ear wax removal difficult, so gentle irrigation may be a better option for effective wax removal.

Does olive oil to prevent ear wax build-up?

Medicated olive oil is often used as a home remedy to soften ear wax and facilitate its natural expulsion from the ear canal. Applying a few drops of medicated olive oil into the ear canal can help soften hardened wax, making it easier for the body to remove it naturally. Regular use of olive oil in this way may help prevent excessive wax build-up for some individuals.

However, it’s important to note that everyone’s ears are different, and what works well for one person may not work the same for another. We often find that those with pretty oily skin don’t necessarily need olive oil drops, as their wax is naturally very soft. Regular olive oil use is unlikely to be very effective as a preventative measure in oily-skinned individuals.

For those with dry skin in the ear canals, perhaps caused by dermatitis or simply having a predisposition to dry skin, there is no hard and fast rule regarding olive oil use as a preventative measure. For some people, regular use can help reduce ear wax build-up, but for others, dry skin flakes can absorb the olive oil, causing it to expand and block the ear canal sooner than expected. It might be something worth experimenting with. Try using olive oil regularly, but stop if ear wax is starting to build up quickly.

Furthermore, while olive oil can help soften ear wax, it may not always completely eliminate the need for professional ear wax removal, especially if you have a significant build-up or impacted wax. If you experience symptoms such as ear pain, hearing loss, or a feeling of fullness in the ear, it’s crucial to seek medical advice rather than relying solely on home remedies.

Can I use olive oil in my ears if I wear hearing aids?

If you wear hearing aids, we advise that you use olive oil before bed. This allows plenty of time for the oil to be absorbed by the wax over night, while you’re not wearing your hearing aids. Before inserting your hearing aids the next morning, give your ears a gentle wipe with tissue paper to mop up any excess oil.

What NOT to do!

As tempting as it may be, do not use cotton buds or Q-tips (or indeed, any other items, like hair grips, pen lids, or screwdrivers – yes, screwdrivers!) to give your ear a good scratch or in an attempt to pull the wax out of your ears.

Not only could this cause damage like an abrasion or even a perforation of the eardrum, this can compress and compact the wax, pushing it deeper into your ear canal, which may lead to the wax being pressed against your eardrum. In addition to making it more difficult to extract, this can give you balance issues, tinnitus, earache, and even hearing loss!

By Hannah Parcell

Registered Hearing Aid Dispenser

If you have a build-up of ear wax, let one of our clinical team remove it safely, so that you can get your ears clear and healthy again.

Book online today, or contact us for in-clinic ear wax removal appointments in Cardiff, Taff’s Well, and Cowbridge.