Making your hearing better - gadgets for cleaning your ears

All the great audio equipment in the world isn’t going to make a lot of difference if your ears are clogged up with wax. Before we get going on the latest gadgets to clean it out, we should state that ear wax in general is a very good thing. It lubricates and cleans the surface of the ear canal and helps protect against bacteria, fungi, water and larger foreign bodies. The trouble comes when there’s an excess of it and it begins to press upon the ear drum itself and interfere with hearing.

So, if you feel that the wax in your lug holes has got to the latter stage, then here are a few of the options open to you in gadget form of how to clean it out and not all of them are a particularly good idea.

Ear Candles

Risk factor
1/5

Effectiveness
0/5


Thought to originate from the Hopi tribe of Native American Indians but later discredited, ear candles are hollow wax cylinders that are placed in one ear at a time and burned as the patient lies down and waits. The theory is that flame causes air to be drawn up the inside of the candles and the resulting suction to draw out the wax from your ear. The practice has been largely rubbished by the medical profession with some even claiming a degree of risk due to the possiblity of further occluding your ear drum with candle wax. All the same, you can still buy Hopi Ear Candles and have a nice relax for 45 minutes while nothing happens.

Home Ear Sucker

Risk factor
1/5

Effectiveness
0/5


Another way you can try to suck the wax out is with a special ear sucker device. They come branded under all sorts of names - whether by Oxyvita, Good Ideas or anyone else - but whoever sells them, by all accounts they’re rather useless. Again, the theory is good but it seems that these battery powered devices neither form the kind of tight seals required nor a good amount of suction. Generally, the only wax you’re going to remove with them is that that’s accidentally scraped off by the part you insert into your ears. There’s little risk involved with these gadgets, save pushing them in too far.

Olive Oil Spray

Risk factor
1/5

Effectiveness
3/5


If you’re ever told to go down to the doctors’ and have your ears syringed, you’ll very often need to soften the wax with olive oil in the days running up to the procedure. So, it’s no real surprise that a gadget that sprays the stuff down your canal is going to be effective to some degree. The pressure involved is fairly minor, so there’s little danger to your ear drum but, if you sit there with the thing resting against your membrane and spray over and over again, you’re obviously going to run into problems. Naturally, the olive oil is only going to soften your wax, so any serious blockages are going to need a little more. For best results, you’ll need to clean your ears carefully with a cotton bud or even just a towel after a shower. No need to go in too deep.

Remington Groom Professional NE3350

Risk factor
0/5

Effectiveness
1/5


The Remington Groom Professional NE3350 is a perfectly good gadget for trimming your nose and ear hair but it’s not really the one that’s going to improve your hearing. Generally, hair in your ears is only an aesthetic issue but if you’ve got very thick clumps this might be something you want to invest in. It’s good to use in either wet or dry conditions and it's perfectly safe as well. You’re not going to end up accidentally cutting yourself with this thing as the blades are protected. Still not a serious contender to improve your hearing.

Elephant ear pick mobile phone strap

Risk factor
3/5

Effectiveness
3/5


Ear picks sell and work better in Asia than anywhere else. This is because, on the whole, Asian ear wax is of the more crumbly kind and suited for this kind of removal. What’s nice about these elephant ones is that they’re actually strap-ons for mobile phones. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can make calls with them but it makes them a gadget on a gadget doubling the gadgety goodness. The elephant’s trunk - the business end of the pick - comes with an anti-bacterial cover to keep it as clean as possible when you’re not using it and the body also looks rather cute as well. Just don’t forget to give it a wipe when you’re done or you’ll end up with wax crumbs on your touchscreen.

Hello Kitty Miki Kaki

Risk factor
3/5

Effectiveness
3/5


Is there anything she doesn’t do? Fresh from her successes with breath testers and AK-47s, Hello Kitty has also got herself into the ear cleaning game with another ear pick for the Asian market. As with the elephant above, the trick is not to go in too far and too hard. As the old adage goes, if you feel some resistance, make sure to stop. You can get the Hello Kitty picks mailed worldwide without too much of a problem but you might want to try another method if you’ve got a serious wax issue.

In-ear headphones

Risk factor
0/5

Effectiveness
3/5


Not designed for the purpose but remarkably effective at ear cleaning are in-ear headphones. Wearing them for an half an hour or so at a time gets everything in there a little warmer than usual which tends to soften one’s wax to the perfect temperature for it to stick to your ears buds. Some materials are better than others for adhering to and, the deeper and better fitting they are, the better. The ideal for this scenario are custom moulds with both the silicone and the glove-like fit working wonders. Just make sure to give them a clean before you put them back in.

King’s Idea

Risk factor
1/5

Effectiveness
Unknown


Another Japanese invention with a typically bizarre name translation is the King’s Idea. It’s an ear pick with a video camera attached to it complete with a screen for you to check out your aural canals live as you’re in there. Naturally, the advantage is that you can see exactly where to dig and where not to but it will cost you around £50 for the privilege. That said, you get the satisfaction of an all glass and stainless steel finish, anti-bacterial ABS resin and a new hobby.

Dr’s ear syringe

Risk factor
3/5

Effectiveness
4/5


The classic way to get the wax out of your ears and here the world again as it should be was to go down to the doctors’ and get the nurse to swish water through your ear until it sluiced out all the heavy lumps. Effective as it is, the modern way of thinking is that this is actually quite dangerous and can quite easily lead to perforation of the ear drum. Not somewhere you want to go. So, if this process is recommended to you by you local GP, you might want to speak to a specialist or, instead, as about...

Ear Suction

Risk factor
1/5

Effectiveness
4/5


Some ENT departments use ear suction instead of running the risk of syringing. This is essentially, the method the likes of the home gadgets and the candles try to ape and it involved a plastic tube fitted tightly to the ear. It’s a lot noisier to sit through for the patient but also thought to be one of the least dangerous methods of shifting the more stubborn wax blockages that might be causing an issue. If you really think you have a problem with excess ear wax and really want your ears cleaned properly, this is the way to go.

 

For more on how to look after your ears and some recommended headphones that'll help do the job for you, check out Etymotic and the ER 4 MicroPro series



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