Before we get to the best way, we’ll start with the worst approaches: using a cotton swab or a blow-dryer.
If you stick the swab in too deep, you could damage your eardrum. And if you shoot hot air in there, you might melt the wax and make it run into your ear canal, says Steven Rauch, M.D., a professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.
No, this is a problem best solved with alcohol. Like all problems. (We kid, we kid!)
Your tube-like canals are lined with delicate, oily skin that causes H2O to sit on top, similar to the way raindrops bead on a freshly waxed car. You need to break the surface tension, and that’s where the alcohol comes in.
“It’s far less prone to beading up, so the water will run right out,” says Dr. Rauch.
Your treatment plan: Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, lie down on your side, and squeeze the liquid into the affected ear. (You might need to massage the outside to help the alcohol drain into the canal.)
Now sit up and tilt your head the other way so the water is able to drain out. No success? The water could be trapped behind wax buildup. Time to visit an otolaryngologist, who can clean it out.