What Happens During a Professional Ear Cleaning?

Ear hygiene is often overlooked, yet it plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being. While many of us clean our ears at home, there are times when professional intervention is necessary to ensure proper cleaning and to address any underlying issues. In this guide, we'll cover all that you need to know about professional ear cleaning.

What Is Professional Ear Cleaning?

Professional ear cleaning, also known as aural toilet, is a procedure performed by trained healthcare professionals to remove earwax (cerumen) and debris from the ear canal. It's typically done using specialised tools and techniques to ensure safety and effectiveness.

How Do I Know if I Need an Appointment?

If you're experiencing symptoms such as earaches, itchiness, dizziness, or a feeling of fullness in the ear, it's a strong indicator that you may have ear wax buildup or blockage. Additionally, if you notice a decrease in hearing or ringing in the ears (tinnitus), it's essential to seek professional help. If you're unsure whether you need an appointment, it's always better to schedule a consultation to ensure your ear health is properly addressed.

Professional Ear Cleaning Process

  1. Assessment: The first step in professional ear cleaning is an assessment of your ear health. The healthcare professional will examine your ears using an otoscope, a handheld device with a light and magnifying lens, to evaluate the extent of wax buildup and identify any other issues such as infections or abnormalities.
  2. Softening the Earwax: Before proceeding with the cleaning, your earwax may be softened using special ear drops or a saline solution. This helps to loosen the wax, making it easier to remove.
  3. Irrigation: One common method of professional ear cleaning is irrigation, also known as ear syringing or ear flushing. During this procedure, warm water or a saline solution is gently flushed into the ear canal using a syringe or a specialised irrigation device. The force of the water dislodges the softened earwax, flushing it out of the ear canal.
  4. Suction: In some cases, particularly when the earwax is stubborn or impacted, suction may be used to remove the wax. A suction device, such as a micro-suction tool, is carefully inserted into the ear canal to suction out the softened wax and debris.
  5. Manual Removal: For more complex cases or when other methods are not suitable, manual removal of earwax may be performed using specialised tools such as a curette or forceps. The healthcare professional carefully manipulates the tools to gently scoop out the earwax without causing harm to the ear canal or eardrum.
  6. Post-Cleaning Care: After the ear cleaning procedure, the healthcare professional may provide instructions on how to care for your ears at home, such as using ear drops if necessary to prevent further wax buildup.

Frequency of Ear Wax Removal Appointments

The frequency of ear wax removal appointments can vary depending on individual circumstances. Some patients may require multiple appointments, while others may only need one. For those using hearing aids, regular micro-suction treatments every 4-6 months are recommended to maintain ear health.

The Risks of Ear Cleaning at Home

Many people are tempted to remove ear wax at home using cotton swabs or other objects, but this can often worsen the situation by pushing the wax deeper into the ear canal. Additionally, DIY methods such as ear candling can pose serious risks, including burns and punctured eardrums. It's crucial to avoid these practices and opt for professional ear wax removal by trained healthcare professionals.

What is the Safest Method of Earwax Removal?

Micro-suction is widely regarded as the safest and most effective method for removing excess ear wax. During this procedure, a healthcare professional uses a high-powered microscope and a tiny steel wand attached to a suction pipe to carefully remove the wax without the use of any liquid. This significantly reduces the risk of infection compared to traditional ear syringing methods.

The Importance of Professional Ear Cleaning

Professional ear cleaning is a safe and effective way to maintain ear health and address issues such as earwax buildup and impaction. By entrusting your ear care to trained healthcare professionals, you can ensure thorough cleaning and reduce the risk of complications associated with home treatments.

If you're experiencing ear-related issues or simply due for a professional ear cleaning, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with a qualified healthcare professional. Take the step towards clearer hearing and healthier ears by contacting us today.


1. How long does a professional ear cleaning appointment typically last?

A professional ear cleaning appointment typically lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on the extent of ear wax buildup and the individual's specific needs. The duration may vary based on factors such as the effectiveness of the chosen method of cleaning and any additional procedures required to address underlying issues. It's essential for patients to remain still during the appointment to ensure thorough cleaning and minimise the risk of complications.

2. Are there any specific aftercare instructions that should be followed following a professional ear cleaning?

After a professional ear cleaning appointment, it's crucial to follow any specific aftercare instructions provided by the healthcare professional. While these instructions may vary depending on specific circumstances, they often include recommendations such as avoiding inserting objects into the ears, using ear drops if necessary to prevent further wax buildup, and monitoring for any unusual symptoms or side effects. Following these instructions can help promote healing and prevent recurrence of earwax buildup.

3. Can professional ear cleaning help with conditions other than earwax buildup, such as infections or abnormalities in the ear canal?

Professional ear cleaning can indeed help address conditions other than earwax buildup, such as infections or abnormalities in the ear canal. During the assessment phase of the appointment, the healthcare professional will examine the ears using specialised tools to identify any issues beyond simple wax accumulation. Depending on the findings, additional treatments or referrals may be recommended to address underlying conditions effectively. By entrusting your ear care to trained healthcare professionals, you can ensure comprehensive evaluation and appropriate management of various ear-related issues.

To schedule a consultation with our experienced ENT specialists and take the first step toward better ear, nose, and throat health, contact us today.

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About Us

The Harley Street ENT clinic in London can provide all of the care that you need when you have an ear, nose, throat or balance problem. We ensure that you can get all of the right tests, treatments and advice in one convenient place.