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Ear Wax, A Rite of Passage

Emme, who is destined to become a future Olympic swimmer, complained earlier that her ear was bothering her after swim class.

I groaned.  Her first ear infection.  I had them all the time when I was a fledgling swimmer.  Long before I took the shape of a sausage when wearing a swim suit.  And just prior to having my tonsils removed.

We ordered her into the master bathroom and fished out the industrial hurricane flashlight.  After locating my strongest reading glasses, I peered into her ear canal.  “WELL GREAT BALLS OF EAR WAX, NO WONDER THE CHILD NEVER ANSWERS ME WHEN I CALL HER.”

I suspect in reality, however, that her hearing is impaired because she just recently acquired Fiddledaddy’s mock iPod wannabe.  And she has some new fangled wrap around the ear earphones with which to hear her musical selections.  (I have it on good authority that that includes plenty of Disney songs, plus a little Plumb and Jump 5 thrown in for good measure.)

And my daughter likes her music loud.

Because the nut seldom falls far from the tree.


This is me, circa 1971ish, with my groovy stereo system which boasted of a turn table, an auto drop for my LP’s and automatic arm, to reduce scratching.  It took up my entire vanity, with the speakers resting beneath.  Notice the canary yellow radio to the side.  And the adjustable airplane regulation cushioned ear phones.  A symphonic masterpiece of surround sound.  Awesome.

The startled look on my face is because my brother enjoyed scaring me, while I listened to the soothing sounds of The Osmond Brothers The Grateful Dead.

We quickly realized that the ear wax must be removed.  I got out my trusty Q-tip and Fiddledaddy yelled, “NOOOO!”

“What’s wrong?”

“You must NEVER stick a Q-tip into anyone’s ear!  Promise me you won’t.”

“Um. Okay.  I promise.”

“Promise me you’ll never stick a Q-tip into anyone’s ear that lives in this house!”

“Okay.  I promise.  Except for my own.”

And with that he checked to make sure I wasn’t crossing anything.

Sheesh.  I clean my ears out every time I wash my hair by dampening the end of the Q-tip and going for it.  IT FEELS WONDERFUL!  And I never never go in too far.

This ritual creeps Fiddledaddy out every time he is witness to it.


So.  Plan B.  We found the blue squishy ball with a tip to it, and I quickly looked up what to use to wash out ear wax.

Dr. Sears recommends a solution of 1/2 hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 water.  (BTW, he also said that while a Q-tip is not generally recommended, it is okay to swab around the inside of the ear, without getting into the canal.)


The wax extrication worked like a charm.  Emme was delighted to see what came washing out of her ear.  I on the other hand completely lost my appetite for my nightly bowl of chocolate ice cream.

Now I just need to get her to turn the volume down on her iPod Wannabe so that she doesn’t turn into a late 40 year old woman who CAN’T HEAR and has an addiction to slightly dampened Q-tips.


17 Responses to Ear Wax, A Rite of Passage

  • I love that the Q-tip box always says, “Do not place in ear.”


  • Where is the bean bag chair you sat in while being tied to the stereo system with the earphone’s cord? My bedroom phone from that era was an electric blue. And it was David Cassidy not Donnie!

  • Have you ever tried ear candles? Get them at the health food store. It’s best to do one on someone else before you let someone else do one on you. Just read the directions. But when it’s all over, the candle has been dunked in water and the patient can hear again, make sure you have an empty stomach before you look at what the candle extracted!

    • Diana,
      Okay. I do have an empty stomach, but just reading that made me turn 4 shades of nauseous. But because I’m curious, I’ll check it out. 🙂

  • I have a son that apparently is making ear wax candles as a side business because that boy has SO much ear wax it is gross. But I will admit, I am a Q-tip mom;)

  • I’m addicted to my Q-tips too – they DO feel wonderful. My husband just closes his eyes… I had lots of ear issues as a child – had to have tubes put in & couldn’t swim. I never did learn how to swim properly…

  • I am a 42 year old Mom who has been known to wake up in the middle of the night to pee and who uses dampened q-tips in her ears before going back to bed. It is an addiction-just like vaseline on my lips after every time I brush my teeth.

    We’ve gone through the wax extraction with my daughter, too. More than once.

  • After you extract the wax, a little olive oil with a few drops of lavender will take out any redness or infection. And it’s really soothing. We use that for any ear redness or soreness.

    I know how gross the flushing out of the ear is. I always lose my appetite. And I want to go hang my head in shame when IT’S MINE. Like somehow I’m unhygenic. I want to scream, “I JUST HAVE REALLY TINY EAR CANALS!!!!!”

  • Ok I have to side with fiddledaddy here …because I am a rebel. But mainly because when my oldest son was 1 year old, in fact it was on ihs 1st birthday, my daughter who was 3 at the time wanted to help me get her brother ready while I was getting his clothes from the dryer (you did not expect me to say I actually iron did you?) and I heard him scream, she had found the qtips that I had hidden (I thought well) and tried to clean out his ear the way she had seen Mommy (the former qtip addict) do it. Needless to say it was in too far and she ruptured his ear drum, when I got to him I saw him with 1/4 of a qtip sticking out of his ear. I still have nightmares. I ran to him and pulled it out which i probably should have had a dr. do in hindsight, and his ear started bleeding. So I am a former qtip addict who is now still 8 years later traumatized. 🙂
    I am now a bulb user like you. hehe.

  • As an audiologist, I’m begging you to throw away the q-tips. They should never ever be placed in the ear canal. Other than that, you crack me up!

    • Well. I’m convicted. I’m totally hiding the Q-tips. Way up high with my other contraband. Right next to the Oreos. 🙂

  • I feel ya! My oldest has ear issues. Every year around summer we end up at the ENT Dr. for a good cleaning and to get our annual antibiotic for just in case. Then drive to the nearest Walgreens to get our summer supply of Swimmer’s Ear. By the end of the summer the bottle is gone and so is my sanity!

  • I’ve done the bulb thing too – ick. Much prefer the q-tip, but I suppose I should quit after the audiologist gave her opinion on the matter.

  • I gave up Q-tips about a year ago, but haven’t found a suitable solution. I loved the ear candles, but the giant flame next to my head freaked me out. Maybe I will try your method.

  • EW. Did it come bubbling out of the ear, or just kind of goober out? I’m a big fan of the Q-tip, too. After every shower.

  • Darn…now you’ve ruined my plans for chocolate ice cream tonight! LOL


  • lol.. im addicted to q-tips