Wax buildup in your ears can cause all sorts of problems, from mild discomfort to hearing loss.

While earwax removal isn’t always necessary (especially if it’s not causing any symptoms), there are many reasons why someone might need this procedure done. Here are some things you should know about how it works:

What Tools Do We Use?

Some earwax removal tools are similar to water flossers, which use a pulsing stream of water to remove debris from the teeth and gums.

When used for ear wax removal, these machines flush the ear canal with a steady stream of warm water, usually about 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius).

The machine may be used alone or in combination with an over-the-counter product like Debrox Earwax Removal Solution, which comes in liquid or gel form.


Ear irrigators, such as the Earigator, often include attachments that help wash out debris without requiring you to put anything else into your ears.

These attachments fit snugly on the end of the irrigator’s nozzle so it can get as close as possible to your eardrum without touching it—this helps prevent damage from occurring during treatment.

Before the spray begins, you’ll lie on your side with your chin up and one finger in each ear to block the water from spraying directly into the eardrum.

Next, the doctor will use a bulb syringe that looks like an eyedropper to remove wax and rinse the ear canal. This process will not hurt at all; it feels like pressure behind your ears.

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How Long Does the Procedure Take?

The procedure can take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, depending on the buildup and your comfort level.

If you have a lot of earwax, the doctor may take longer to remove it. The doctor will clean out your ears with solutions and then use an instrument called an auriscope to look inside your ear canal.

The auriscope is a tiny camera that lets the doctor see what they are doing as they clean out your ears. It might be uncomfortable initially, but you’ll get used to it quickly!

If you have buildup in both ears, you’ll switch sides halfway through the procedure.

You will be lying on your side, with your head under a headband that keeps your hair out of the way. You will also receive a towel under your head and a pillow under your neck. This arrangement allows for maximum comfort during the procedure.

Feeling Nervous?

As an earwax removal patient, you might be feeling a bit nervous and unsure about what to expect. The good news is that there’s no need for surprise or fear!

You can rest assured that the doctor performing your procedure will be gentle and professional and will always be happy to answer any questions you might have.

So, what should you know?

  • Don’t be embarrassed about the appearance of your ear wax—it’s a natural part of life, after all!
  • Odd sounds coming from inside your ear canal during these procedures are normal.
  • During these procedures, pressure in your ears is also expected (and useful).
  • Your doctor will let you know when they’re done so as not to cause discomfort or unnecessary waiting time on your end either way!

Remember that many medications are available over the counter, which can help relieve symptoms such as itching or pain associated with an infection like swimmer’s ear (otitis externa). 

Secondly, remember, while we know our patients are trying their best at home, sometimes follow-through isn’t enough! If something seems unusual, then please see us.

What Are Your Next Steps?

We hope this blog has helped you understand what to expect when you come for an earwax removal appointment. 

Remember that everyone is different, but most people find the process easy and comfortable. Our goal will be to remove as much earwax as possible while being gentle on your eardrum. 

As Fox Valley’s most trusted ear, nose, and throat doctors since 1980, we’re dedicated to helping local people achieve better ENT health and lead fulfilling lives.

To request an appointment, please click here.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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Brittany Hampsch, AuD

Brittany earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Champaign in 2004 and her doctorate from Northwestern in 2014. She is fluent in American Sign Language and worked as an interpreter before becoming an audiologist. Brittany is passionate about communication and helping those in need in any way she can. Her kindness and helpfulness earn her regular praises from Fox Valley ENT patients who are so grateful that she has joined our team. In her spare time, Brittany is an avid scuba diver, enjoys camping and cooking, and tends to a large saltwater aquarium in her home with her husband and two sons.