How to Clean Ears With Hydrogen Peroxide

Ear drops with hydrogen peroxide may be a safe, cost-effective, and easy-to-use treatment to help remove earwax buildup at home.

Hydrogen peroxide is a common ingredient found in liquid ear drops, known as cerumenolyticsTrusted Source.

These are typically the first method to help treat an ear impaction, which may be caused by excess earwax. They may also be used to soften earwax before other treatments.

Ear wax, or cerumen, is a natural substance that helps protect your ear canal from water, infection, and irritants.

However, nearly 6%Trusted Source of people in the United States has cerumen impaction, which may cause symptoms like:

  • fullness, ringing, or blockage in the ear
  • vertigo, dizziness, or imbalance
  • hearing loss
  • infection

If you’re experiencing acute pain, drainage, or bleeding in your ear, get medical help immediately. These are not symptoms of wax impaction and may be a sign of something more serious.


Over-the-counter (OTC) cerumenolytic solutions typically contain 3% hydrogen peroxide. They release oxygen to soften, break up, or dissolve your earwax.

Carbamide peroxide is a commonly prescribed trusted Source ear drop.

Ear drop treatment

Here’s a general approach to using hydrogen peroxide ear drops:

  1. Lie on your side with the affected ear facing the ceiling.
  2. Administer the instructed number of drops into your ear canal. It’s common to hear a crinkling, fizzling, or bubbling sound when the liquid solution enters your ear canal.
  3. Keep still for 5 minutes or as long as the ear drops’ guidelines state.
  4. Sit up and lean over a sink to allow any liquid to leak out or use a tissue to blot the outer ear.
  5. Repeat this process for your other ear if necessary.
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The treatment amount, frequency, and duration may vary depending on the brand and solution type.

For example, you may need to administer your drops more than once per day over several days.

Always read the ear drop application guidelines.


Speak with a doctor before using hydrogen peroxide ear drops, especially if you’ve had, or currently have, a ruptured ear drum, infection, or tympanostomy tubes.

In some cases, cerumenolytic solutions may cause:

  • ear canal infection
  • ear canal irritation, itchiness, or pain
  • contact dermatitis
Alternative treatments

If hydrogen peroxide ear drops aren’t doing the trick for you, speak with a doctor to discuss safe alternative earwax removal methods, such as:

  • irrigation
  • micro suction
  • manual removalTrusted Source, such as with a pic, curette, or alligator forceps
  • oil- or water-based ear drops
  • home remedies

It’s important never to put objects in your ears, such as cotton swabs and ear candles. Despite popular belief, these may push the earwax further into your ear and cause serious complications.

Frequently asked questions

Is it safe to put hydrogen peroxide in your ear?

Hydrogen peroxide ear drops are a common solution that may help soften earwax and treat impactions. They’re typically safe, cost-effective, and easy to use.

That said, hydrogen peroxide should not be used if you have:

  • a perforated eardrum
  • an ear infection
  • tympanostomy tubes
  • a hydrogen peroxide allergy

How long does hydrogen peroxide take to dissolve ear wax?

When the liquid solution enters your ear canal, you’ll hear a crinkling, fizzling, or bubbling sound. This is the hydrogen peroxide working to soften, break up, and dissolve your ear wax.

Leave the liquid in your ear as per the ear drop instructions. This may last 1–5 minutes.

The duration, efficacy, and frequency of hydrogen peroxide ear drop treatment may depend on the brand and solution type. But treatment may last 4–7 days.


Most people’s ears produce enough earwax to protect against infections and water. In most cases, the wax gradually moves out of the ears and doesn’t require intervention.

Excessive earwax buildup may cause an impaction, which could require treatment.

If you’re experiencing symptoms like fullness, hearing loss, or vertigo, speak with a doctor.

This may be a sign of an ear impaction or an underlying medical condition.

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