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Claim: "It's dangerous to clean your ears with a cotton swab."

Verdict: true

Several websites, such as


, state that cleaning your ears with a cotton swab is dangerous.

But why is using a cotton swab not a good idea, and is it necessary to clean your ears at all?

What is the function of ear wax?

The website of the Dutch Association for Ear Nose and Throat Medicine explains that wax is made in the outer part of the ear canal.

Jan Wouter Brunings, ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) at Maastricht UMC +, explains that earwax is useful because it prevents the skin in the ear canal from drying out and because it protects against bacteria entering the ear canal.

The area marked number 2 in the model above is the ear canal (Photo: Getty Images)

Do you need to clean your ears?

Brunings says it is not normally necessary to remove wax.

"Excess wax is usually automatically removed from the ear canal. If the wax comes out very much and is clearly visible, I can imagine that you want to clean the visible part of your ear. This can be done with a towel, for example."

Why you shouldn't use a cotton swab

"Never use a cotton swab to clean your ears," Brunings warns.

He explains that you usually only push wax further into the ear canal with a cotton swab.

"This can cause a wax plug to form in the ear canal, which can make hearing worse.

In addition, I see too often that someone has slipped through the cotton swab and pushed it through the eardrum. "The eardrum is a thin membrane at the end of the ear canal and has an important function in the proper functioning of the hearing.

According to Brunings, damaging the eardrum with a cotton swab occurs, for example, if someone is bumped while he has a cotton swab in his ear, "then the cotton swab sometimes shoots through".

The Dutch Association for Ear Nose and Throat Care also warns against the use of cotton buds.

What if you have too much wax in your ear?

If, for whatever reason, the wax that builds up in your ear is not properly drained out of your ear canal, it can build up in the ear and you can get a wax plug.

The consequence of this is that you hear less well.

Brunings says that in this case it is best to go to the doctor to have your ears sprayed

If you have dry ear wax, the wax can often dissipate more difficult.

"It can help to drip a little oil into your ears at home. This can cause wax to soften a little, and thus leave the ear canal more easily."


Earwax is useful for the skin in your ear canal and has an antibacterial effect.

Normally you do not have to remove wax from your ears.

If you do suffer from too much wax that remains in your ear and you hear less well as a result, it is best to see a doctor.

In any case, do not put a cotton swab in your ear, this often backfires.

You can also damage your ears with a cotton swab.

We judge the claim "It's dangerous to clean your ears with a cotton swab" as