Does Pouring Hydrogen Peroxide in Clogged Ears Help? (2024)

Hydrogen peroxide, a liquid used for cleaning and personal care, can help soften earwax and make it easier to remove. Earwax is a natural substance the body produces to protect and keep the ears clean. It catches dust and dirt, keeping harmful substances away from the eardrum, and fights bacteria and fungus, preventing ear infections.

At times, too much earwax builds up and blocks the ear, causing itching, discomfort, plugged ears, or hearing problems.

This article reviews using hydrogen peroxide in the ears—its effectiveness for earwax removal, sounds you might hear when you use it, and what to do if hydrogen peroxide or other home remedies are not working.

Does Pouring Hydrogen Peroxide in Clogged Ears Help? (1)

Hydrogen Peroxide Ear Uses and Effectiveness

Hydrogen peroxide is a cerumenolytic agent that helps soften earwax, making it easier to remove. Putting hydrogen peroxide into your ear can effectively remove earwax, but it's essential to do it safely. Avoid this method if you have any ear problems, such as a perforated (tear or hole) eardrum, ear tubes, active dermatitis in your ear, an ear infection, or ear pain.

What Causes Excessive Earwax?

Typically, your body removes earwax naturally through jaw movements while chewing or talking, pushing it from the inner ear toward the outer ear. Excessive earwax can develop due to various reasons, such as:

  • Skin conditions like eczema
  • Irritation from using earbuds or hearing aids
  • Aging
  • Narrow ear canals

Does Pouring Hydrogen Peroxide in Clogged Ears Help? (2)

According to research studies, using a cerumenolytic agent is better than doing nothing to clear earwax. However, it's unclear whether one type of ear drop is better than others. The effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide may depend on the type of earwax (dry or wet), what's causing it, and how deep it is.

For stubborn earwax, consider gently rinsing the ear with warm water or taking a warm shower about 30 minutes after using hydrogen peroxide drops to help dislodge the wax. It's important to avoid using objects like cotton swabs or hairpins, as they can push wax deeper and cause harm.

If hydrogen peroxide does not work well for you, you can try the following household fluids to help soften and dissolve earwax:

  • Water (use distilled water if you have concerns about infection)
  • Saline (salt water solution)
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda in water)
  • Acetic acid (half vinegar and half water)
  • Almond or mineral oil

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe to Use on Skin?

Hydrogen Peroxide Sounds You Might Hear and Why

The chemical makeup of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2, meaning two parts hydrogen to two parts oxygen) is similar to water (H2O, meaning two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen), but with an extra oxygen molecule. When hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with bacteria, viruses, mold, and dirt, it releases this extra oxygen molecule, causing it to foam or bubble.

You might hear a fizzing or bubbling sound when placing hydrogen peroxide in the ear. This is normal as the hydrogen peroxide reacts with the earwax and releases oxygen. The bubbling action is part of what helps soften and loosen ear wax.

How to Pour Hydrogen Peroxide in Your Ear

Hydrogen peroxide typically comes in a 3% strength. Avoid concentrations higher than this, which could hurt your skin. The drops must be close to body temperature to avoid causing dizziness.

You can use two to three drops of hydrogen peroxide 15 to 30 minutes before irrigation (flushing ears with water) or several days in a row if not using irrigation. Limit use to five drops, two or three times daily, for up to 14 days.

The steps for pouring hydrogen peroxide to clean out earwax are as follows:

  1. Tilt your head: Tilt your head to the side so the ear faces upward.
  2. Insert the drops: Carefully insert a few drops into the ear canal using a dropper or syringe.
  3. Wait: Stay still and wait about five minutes, giving the drops time to work.
  4. Drain: Tilt your head to allow the solution to drain out. Place a clean tissue or towel over your ear to catch any runoff.
  5. Repeat: Repeat if necessary for the other ear.

How to Use Ear Drops Correctly

When Hydrogen Peroxide in the Ear Is Not Working

Sometimes, when you use hydrogen peroxide in your ear to clean out earwax, it might feel like your ear is more clogged or plugged. The hydrogen peroxide’s bubbling action can cause a sense of fullness.

Also, as the earwax and debris dislodge from the ear canal, it can be harder for sound waves to pass through. But this sensation usually lessens as the hydrogen peroxide and earwax drain out of the ear canal.

If hydrogen peroxide or other home remedies don’t remove earwax, consider over-the-counter (OTC) cerumenolytic drops like the following:

  • Waxsol (docusate sodium)
  • Otoceril, Earex (almond oil, peanut oil, or rectified camphor oil)
  • Cerumol ear drops (peanut oil, chlorobutanol, turpentine oil)
  • Earex Advance (choline salicylate plus glycerol)
  • Debrox (carbamide peroxide)

You can also try ear irrigation to flush out earwax buildup with water or saline (salt water). It’s best to wait 15 to 30 minutes after using hydrogen peroxide to allow the wax to soften before irrigating the ear.

Consult a healthcare provider if at-home removal methods do not improve earwax buildup or if they worsen symptoms. This may indicate underlying issues like impacted earwax or infection.

Potential Side Effects of Cleaning Earwax With Hydrogen Peroxide

While using hydrogen peroxide to clean out earwax usually does not cause problems, potential side effects might include:

  • Temporary sensation of increased ear fullness or blockage
  • Irritation or discomfort in the ear canal
  • Itching or redness in the ear
  • Risk of ear infection if there is previous damage in the ear canal
  • Worsening of existing ear pain or discomfort

In rare cases, using tap water can lead to an ear infection. Consider using saline or distilled water to reduce the risk. You can also place a few drops of a half vinegar-half water solution or alcohol drops after irrigation to reduce the risk of infection.

How to Unclog Your Ears


Hydrogen peroxide drops can help soften and loosen ear wax buildup, facilitating its removal. Other substances, such as warm salt water, mineral oil, baby oil, glycerin, and carbamide peroxide drops, may soften earwax. Avoid using objects like cotton swabs or hairpins, which can push earwax deeper and cause harm.

If at-home methods fail to improve earwax buildup or if symptoms worsen, seek advice from a healthcare provider to avoid potential complications.

7 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Aaron K, Cooper TE, Warner L, Burton MJ. Ear drops for the removal of ear wax. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2018;7:CD012171). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD012171.pub2

  2. Michaudet C, Malaty J. Cerumen impaction: Diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2018;98(8):525-529. PMID: 30277727

  3. Horton GA, Simpson MTW, Beyea MM, Beyea JA. Cerumen management: an updated clinical review and evidence-based approach for primary care physicians. J Prim Care Community Health. 2020;11:2150132720904181. doi:10.1177/2150132720904181

  4. Schwartz SR, Magit AE, Rosenfeld RM, et al. Clinical practice guideline (update): earwax (cerumen impaction). Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;156(1_suppl):S1-S29. doi:10.1177/0194599816671491

  5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Medical management guidelines for hydrogen peroxide.

  6. Meyer F, Preuß R, Angelow A, Chenot F, Meyer E, Kiel S. Cerumen impaction removal in general practices: A comparison of approved standard products. Journal of Primary Care & Community Health. 2020;11. doi:10.1177/2150132720973829

  7. Wright T. Ear wax. BMJ Clin Evid. 2015;2015:0504.

Does Pouring Hydrogen Peroxide in Clogged Ears Help? (3)

By Brandi Jones, MSN-ED RN-BC
Jones is a registered nurse and freelance health writer with more than two decades of healthcare experience.

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Does Pouring Hydrogen Peroxide in Clogged Ears Help? (2024)


Does Pouring Hydrogen Peroxide in Clogged Ears Help? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is a common ingredient in eardrops that can help remove earwax by adding oxygen to the wax, causing it to bubble and soften. Earwax is a waxy substance secreted in the ear canal. It is a natural cleanser with antifungal and antibacterial properties that help protect the ears.

Can I put hydrogen peroxide in my ear when it's clogged? ›

Even though hydrogen peroxide can be used as an alternative to cotton swabs for removing earwax, you should use caution with this method. You might feel confident that you're using a skin-safe concentration, but it can cause harm if you use too much. No more than 10 drops should be used in your ear at a time.

How long does hydrogen peroxide take to dissolve ear wax? ›

How long does hydrogen peroxide take to soften ear wax? Lie on your side with the affected ear facing up. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes to allow the hydrogen peroxide to penetrate and soften the earwax. Afterward, tilt your head to allow the excess solution to drain onto a tissue or cotton ball.

How to remove ear wax blockage fast? ›

You also can try hydrogen peroxide mixed with an equal amount of room temperature water. Place 2 drops of the fluid, warmed to body temperature, in the ear two times a day for up to 5 days. Once the wax is loose and soft, all that is usually needed to remove it from the ear canal is a gentle, warm shower.

What does it mean when you put hydrogen peroxide in your ear and it bubbles a lot? ›

Carbamide peroxide, a common form of hydrogen peroxide ear drops, releases oxygen into the earwax, causing it to bubble and soften. Hydrogen peroxide-based eardrops have a good safety profile when used properly.

How to open a blocked ear at home? ›

If your ears are plugged, try swallowing, yawning or chewing sugar-free gum to open your eustachian tubes. If this doesn't work, take a deep breath and try to blow out of your nose gently while pinching your nostrils closed and keeping your mouth shut. If you hear a popping noise, you know you have succeeded.

How to flush out an ear? ›

It involves using a rubber bulb syringe to squirt water or a saline solution into the ear canal. When the water or solution drains out of the ear, it also flushes out loose ear wax. Use wax-softening ear drops before rinsing out your ear for the best results. And be sure to warm the solution to your body temperature.

What happens if you leave hydrogen peroxide in your ear for too long? ›

Also, peroxide becomes water and oxygen once it reacts with substances like protein and fat. Water isn't great for the ear canal skin, and prolonged exposure can lead to infection (swimmer's ear) by breaking down the skin's natural protective function.

Is hydrogen peroxide better than olive oil for ear wax? ›

Compared to Hydrogen Peroxide's multiple risks, detailed above, it is clear that Earol Olive Oil Spray is a safer choice for the sensitive skin of the ears.

How do you get rid of earwax in 30 seconds? ›

Soak a cotton ball with the hydrogen peroxide. Tilt your head and drip the peroxide into your ear. You may hear it fizz as it tries to dissolve the earwax. After about 30 seconds, drain your ear onto a washcloth.

What dissolves stubborn ear wax? ›

Baking soda solution: A baking soda solution can also help soften wax. You can make it on your own using 1 part sterile water and 1 part baking soda. Fill a small syringe with the solution and place 5 drops in your ear once a day. Hydrogen peroxide 3% solution: You can buy this solution at any drugstore.

Why does my ear hurt after I put hydrogen peroxide in it? ›

Hydrogen peroxide can cause skin irritation and blistering. It can even cause burns at concentrations over 10%. Using too much hydrogen peroxide can irritate the skin inside the ear, leading to inflammation and earaches.

How do you get rid of hard impacted ear wax? ›

How is impacted earwax treated?
  1. Medicines dropped into the ear canal, to soften the earwax and slowly break it down.
  2. Irrigation of the ear canal with water in your provider's office.
  3. Manual removal, using special tools in your provider's office.

Why won't my ears unclog after hydrogen peroxide? ›

Ear cleaning drops may not work if you have too much earwax or a condition called impacted cerumen (when there's a firm wax plug blocking your ear canal). “When it's a plug, putting peroxide in your ear may make things worse because you're softening the plug but not dissolving or removing it,” Dr. Nguyen-Huynh says.

Does fizzing peroxide mean infection? ›

While not necessarily a “mistake”, a common misconception is that if hydrogen peroxide bubbles, it means your wound is infected. Hydrogen peroxide will bubble whether your wound is infected or not. A chemical reaction occurs while cleaning and creates little oxygen bubbles. Don't sweat over the bubbles.

Does bubbling mean hydrogen peroxide is working? ›

Hydrogen peroxide works to disinfect wounds in several ways: First, since it's a solution in water, it helps rinse away dirt and damaged cells and loosen dried blood, while the bubbles help lift away debris.

Why shouldn t you use hydrogen peroxide if you have an ear infection? ›

Hydrogen peroxide for ear infections and ear pain

This procedure shouldn't be repeated too frequently and only in small doses; hydrogen peroxide can cause irritation, pain and inflammation to the sensitive skin and parts of the ear, especially in concentrations above 10%.

How to remove cotton stuck deep in the ear at home? ›

If a cotton swab gets stuck in your ear

To remove it safely, we recommend speaking with your local hearing care professional. Don't use an object to try and remove the cotton from your ear. If the cotton gets pushed deeper into your ear canal, it could cause severe pain, permanent hearing loss and severe dizziness.

Will peroxide get a bug out of your ear? ›

You can gently pull on your ear to help move things around. Hopefully, the bug will fall out. If the bug does not fall out, flush your ear with a 1:1 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water or rubbing alcohol and water. If the bug is still in your ear, you should seek professional help.

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