Your earwax, microsuction, irrigation and syringing questions answered.

What Is Earwax?

Ear wax, also known as cerumen, is a naturally occurring substance produced by the glands in our ears. While it may seem gross or unnecessary, ear wax actually plays an important role in protecting our ears by trapping dust, dirt, and other debris before it can reach the eardrum. However, when too much ear wax accumulates or becomes impacted, it can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms such as hearing loss, earache, tinnitus, and vertigo.


In some cases, excessive ear wax can even lead to more serious complications like infections or perforated eardrums. That's why it's important to know how to safely and effectively remove ear wax when necessary, whether at home or with the help of a professional ear cleaning service. On this page, we'll explore some of the most common methods of ear wax removal, their benefits and risks, and how to choose the best option for your needs.

What's The Best Method Of Earwax Removal?

Proper ear wax removal is crucial for maintaining good ear health. Too much earwax can cause discomfort, hearing loss, and even infection. But it's important to get rid of earwax in a safe and effective way so you don't hurt your sensitive ear canal. Ear wax can be removed in various ways, but not all of them are safe and effective. Here are the common methods for removing ear wax:

  • Cleaning ears with a washcloth: This is the most basic method, and it involves wiping the outer part of the ear with a damp washcloth. However, this method cannot remove the earwax that has built up inside the ear canal.
  • Ear wax removal drops: These drops contain ingredients that soften the earwax, making it easier to remove. However, some people may be allergic to the ingredients in these drops, and they can cause irritation and infection if not used correctly. Most experienced ear wax removal specialists do not usually recommend the use of drops that contain hydrogen peroxide. These drops may not be effective for everyone, and can sometimes cause irritation or infection if not used properly.
  • Home Earwax Removal Kits: There are many types of home kits available on sites like Amazon and eBay. Many of these are extremely unsafe and we recommend that you should only ever use something that is recommended by registered and qualified professionals. Check out this earwax home syringe kit recommended by The Hearing Lab which is owned and operated by UK audiologists.
  • Ear syringing: This method involves flushing the ear canal with water or saline to remove the earwax. However, this method can be risky as it can damage the ear canal, push the earwax further into the ear, or cause infection.
  • Ear Irrigation: Although not strictly the same, irrigation is synonymous with syringing. They both use water but whereas the latter uses a hand syringe method, irrigation uses a pulsed water jet. Both can sometimes cause discomfort or even damage to the ear if not performed properly.
  • Microsuction: This is the safest and most effective method for removing earwax. It involves using a microscope and a tiny suction device to gently remove the earwax with greatly reduced risks of damage or infection. The procedure is quick and painless, and should be performed by a qualified professional. Unfortunately, aural microsuction earwax removal is unregulated and therefore you should check if your "professional" is qualified, working under a registration, and has insurance.

All of these methods have their pros and cons, but most people agree that microsuction is the safest and most effective way to get rid of earwax. Getting rid of ear wax safely and effectively is easier if you go to a professional ear wax clinic, like the ones in our "Ear Wax Clinic" network. Earwax is removed at our clinics by licensed and trained professionals who use the most up-to-date tools and methods. We use microsuction and other methods to remove earwax, and our fast service makes sure that you can get it out quickly and easily.

Microsuction vs. Syringing / Irrigation

Ear syringing or irrigation involves flushing the ear canal with water to dislodge the earwax. A medical professional will use a syringe or a specialised machine to gently flush warm water into the ear canal, and the wax is then flushed out. While ear syringing can be an effective method for ear wax removal, it has been associated with complications such as ear infections, perforated eardrums, and damage to the ear canal.


On the other hand, microsuction involves using a small, handheld vacuum-like device to suction out the earwax. The procedure is performed under direct vision using a special microscope or loupe, allowing for greater precision and safety. Microsuction is generally considered a safer and more effective method of ear wax removal than ear syringing. It is also better suited for people with a history of ear infections, a perforated eardrum, or other ear-related issues.


Even though microsuction has benefits, it may not be right for everyone. For example, people with narrow or deeply clogged ear canals may not be able to have it done. In such cases, ear syringing or other methods may be more appropriate. In the end, the choice between microsuction and ear syringing should be made with the help of an audiologist or other hearing care professional, who can look at the person's needs and suggest the best method.

How to Tell if Your Earwax is Impacted

It's normal to have some earwax, as it helps keep your ears clean and healthy. However, when too much earwax accumulates in your ear canal, it can become impacted, which can cause discomfort and even hearing loss. Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate impacted earwax:

  • A feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear
  • Pain or discomfort in your ear
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Ringing in your ear (tinnitus)
  • Difficulty hearing or hearing loss
  • Itching or drainage from your ear

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to get your ears checked by an ear care professional, such as one of the many listed on this website. If you don't get rid of impacted earwax, you could get an infection, damage your eardrum and middle ear, or lose your hearing for good.

Why Has The NHS Reduced & In Some Areas Stopped Ear Syringing/Irrigation?

Due to safety, litigation, infection, and capacity issues, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has reduced or stopped providing ear syringing as a service. Ear syringing and irrigation involve flushing the ear canal with water, which can potentially cause damage to the eardrum and push the earwax deeper into the ear canal. Additionally, ear syringing can be ineffective at removing impacted earwax.


As an alternative to ear syringing, the NHS and private ear wax removal clinics offer microsuction, a safe and effective technique that uses a small suction device to remove earwax. Microsuction is done by trained professionals and is thought to be a less painful and more effective way to get rid of earwax than ear syringing. However, the wait for an NHS microsuction appointment, if available, can be extremely long.


Private ear wax removal clinics, such as our Ear Wax Clinic network, offer a range of ear wax removal techniques, including microsuction, which can often provide a faster service compared to the NHS.

What is the Cost of Private Earwax Removal?

Private ear wax removal can cost anywhere from £40 to £150 per appointment, depending on the clinic and the method used.


When choosing a provider for ear wax removal, it is important to ensure that the clinic is reputable and safe. Look for providers who are registered and qualified, and who use up-to-date equipment and techniques. Reviews from previous patients can also be helpful in determining the quality of a clinic's services.


It is worth noting that some private health insurance policies may cover the cost of ear wax removal, so it is always worth checking with your insurance provider to see if you are covered.

Aftercare & Precautions

To keep from having more problems, it's important to take care of the ear after the wax is taken out. Here are some important precautions to take:


  1. Avoid getting water in the ears: After ear wax removal, it is crucial to avoid getting water in the ears to prevent infection. This means avoiding swimming and taking showers, and don't put anything into the ears that may introduce an infection including your fingers!

  2. Not using cotton swabs or other objects in the ears: It is tempting to use cotton swabs or other objects to itch the ears, but this can cause damage or infection. Instead, use an olive oil spray such as Earol to soothe the ear canal.

  3. Tips for maintaining ear hygiene: Contrary to a common belief, it is generally fine to let clean water get into the ears. However, give it a few days following an ear wax removal appointment before you start cleaning your ears. 

  4. When to seek medical attention if problems persist: If you experience symptoms such as pain, discharge, or hearing loss after ear wax removal, it is crucial to seek professional attention. This could indicate an infection or other underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Go back to the clinic that treated you initially and ask them to check using a video otoscope. All our clinics should have this equipment.


Taking proper aftercare precautions can help prevent further complications and ensure that your ears remain healthy and free of ear wax buildup.

My NHS surgery has told me that is not good for the ear to have it syringed on a regular basis. Is the same true for micro suction?

The eardrum is a very sensitive and delicate structure, and to syringe an ear successfully, the water and some of the wax have to hit the eardrum. With microsuction we just latch onto the wax and pull it out, or if it is very soft, it just gets sucked up the suction probe. Therefore, micro suction can be carried out as often as is necessary but always follow the individual ear care professional's advice.

What Earwax Softening Product do you Recommend?

For the purposes of microsuction we would only recommend a clinically treated oil such as Earol. This lubricates the canal and softens the wax just enough to get hold of it with the suction probe. Some other more aggressive treatments, such as hydrogen peroxide or sodium bicarbonate, may make it harder to remove and can inflame the ear canal.

How can I find an Ear Wax Clinic?

We have hundreds of clinics around the UK and Ireland. Please visit our location page or the button below to find your nearest branch.

Who will be Performing my Ear Wax Removal Treatment?

We use fully qualified and registered audiologists, doctors, physician associates, nurses, and hearing care assistants. They are additionally trained by the Ear Wax Removal Clinic or other recognised bodies to meet our exact high standards of safety and professionalism. Ear wax removal is an unregulated profession and therefore you should check the credentials of your "professional". 

Previously, before having my ears syringed, the nurse asked me to treat my ears with drops of oil for at least a week. Is this still the case with microsuction?

It is quite normal with syringing to have to pre-treat the ears for up to six weeks. Microsuction is quickest and easiest when the ear has been treated for one or two days before, but often doesn't require any oil at all.