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Part of the reason is physiological: It simply feels good to swab the sensitive nerve endings that line your ear canal, says Dr Robert Yellon, an associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh. Then there’s the psychological side: The cleaner you keep your ears, the more aware you’ll become of even the slightest wax buildup, which in turn will make you want to go back in there and excavate the goo over and over again, says Douglas Woods, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Make sense? Now cut it out! Every time you “clean” your ears, you may actually increase the chances of an infection in your ear canal. “Earwax is an acidic substance that prevents the growth of bacteria and fungus,” says Dr Yellon, who adds that other contaminants are carried away by the wax as it slowly migrates out of your ear canal. If the sticky stuff builds up and really starts bugging you, and you have no history of an opening in your eardrum or perforation of an ear tube, three drops of mineral oil in each ear once a week may help move the wax out of the canal faster.