Ear Wax Management

I am adjusting to the convenience issues regarding my ATH-E50x IEM’s. But I seem to be constantly fighting ear wax. I don’t know what ‘normal’ is but my GP says that I have “pretty waxey ears”.

How do other folks deal with this? I can see a number of paths here.

  1. Lots of cleaning (then the question is how to do this)

  2. The ear wax blocking Comply tip things (which seem to me to be defeating the purpose of good headphones)

  3. Go with the ‘hang on your ear’ type headphones. If this is the choice are there any no mic/wired headphones of this type available that are a reasonable value in the $100-200 price range? I am not looking bass thumping or anything dramatic in sonic performance.

  4. Since ear wax tends to live on the canal walls (I assume) it looks to me like the Etymotic type ‘deep’ headphones might be a bit less susceptible to this problem. Or maybe since they go in further they are worse??? Which is the case and does anyone else sell this type?

Other solutions? Thanks.


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I believe you (anyone) can go to their regular doctor to have them clean the wax from your ears. They may be able to provide you with more specific information about this as well, including genetic disposition, home cleaning solutions that are safe, etc. Maybe even diet and/or environment plays into it as well?

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I’d start by consulting an audiologist/specialist rather than a GP (my experience with “GPs” in the US has been that they’re “Generally Pointless” for all but the most generic issues). An audiologist can properly advise you on what’s safe and appropriate in terms of cleaning your ears. There are also drops you can apply that’ll help breakdown the wax, some of which will require prescription.

I don’t suffer with much wax generation nor build-up but I still clean my IEMs after each session/day. Most of the higher-end ones comes with simple tools to do this, but a simple hearing-aid cleaning tool/wax loop is really all that’s needed for daily maintenance. If you want to get fancy, or for more thorough/less frequent cleaning, vacuum tools like this are the way to go.

The Comply tips with integrated “Wax Guard” don’t sound obviously different to the ones without it. It’s a very thin, if tough, acoustically transparent layer.

The Etyomtic IEMs use replaceable internal filters to keep the wax out of the driver/tube. You still need to clean them, and you need to replace the filters periodically (more frequently if you have lots of wax). I would think the profile of the best tips on these (triple flange) would result in the wax being pushed into the ear … but an audiologist could tell you for sure.


Salt water is supposed to be good for cleaning out wax, you can make your own salt water solution by following methods online (try to follow websites that are.more professional and not random how-to videos on YouTube :wink: )

Also, there is a spray called Audispray meant for cleaning your ears, but as always, follow the instructions and consult a pro, don’t follow advice from a random headphone lover on the net :smiley:

BTW, I suffer with the same issue for about four months if the year, the rest of the time it is too hot for the wax to form!


I’m answering here from left field – I used to have waxy ears myself, but this declined as I started to eat more protein. Common sources include eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, meat, protein bars/drinks, etc.

Thanks for all the comments. Two things pop out at me here.

  1. Obviously ear wax generation is a personal, and widely varying, thing. E.G, if I were to use a doctor to maintain a ‘clear enough’ ear canal, I would guess that it would be 2 or 3 times per week.

  2. I really need to think of this as an audiology problem first. That is the place most likely to have real solutions (and I am not trying to say that there are none here, but …).

Thanks again.


For a mere $3.30, I see that Home Depot has a 1/2 inch carbon-steel wire cup brush for the Dremel that looks promising


Although I generally prefer conical brushes, personally.


My case is pretty bad, so I am headed in this direction :smiley:



I tried that, but the dust raised tends to lodge in my beard.

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Regarding dust in your beard, this should take care of that problem. A distance of maybe 6 feet should be about right.



So long as you don’t have a perforated eardrum, here’s my recommendation for a regimen you can adopt to keep your ears a little more wax-free. This is, by no means, a substitute for meeting with an audiologist, but it’ll work decently enough for the budget-minded folks out there.

What you’ll need:

  1. Medicine cup - A shot glass will work in a pinch, but any big-box branded tiny cup will do the trick
  2. Medicine dropper - The one I use came from a small bottle of essential oil that has been thoroughly cleaned with isopropyl alcohol and distilled water
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide, 3% - Readily available at a drug store near you, this will last you a long while
  4. Distilled water - Locally, it’s less than a buck per gallon. Will also last you a long time.
  5. Towel - Should be easy enough to figure out why this one’s necessary, what with all the liquid being used.

Fill your medicine cup about 1/3 of the way with the hydrogen peroxide, then about 2/3 distilled water. Mix it up.

With your medicine dropper, plunge (aliquot, for the chemists out there) a dropper-full into one ear while laying down on your side and just let it sit there for about 15 minutes. For really waxy ears, you’ll hear a lot of snap, crackle, and pops going on…this is the wax being dissolved/softened by the peroxide.

Once 15 minutes has passed, slowly get up and tilt your head over a towel to drain out the solution. Repeat on the other side. If you want to give your ears another good flush, it’s a good idea to follow this up with a shower to rinse out the solution from each ear.

I follow this regimen about once every other week and the amount of wax production has gone down significantly; my foam tips are certainly happier for it. Hope this helps!


Interesting! I get wax build up once in awhile maybe twice a year. Used the commercial over the counter wax stuff a few years ago with the blue squeeze bulb. Had wax build up one morning and didn’t have time to go to the store before work so I got a glass and filled it with warm water @ a few degrees above body temp and flushed the wax out gently. Been doing it ever since. If it gets extra clogged I use a small amount of isopropal alcohol added to the glass of warm water to resolve the wax. I’ve also found eating fats less makes a difference.

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Somehow I missed this thread. About 2 years ago I was treated for severe balance issues. After visits with GP, Neurologist, and Ent Drs. I was referred to a sub-specialty of Ent. They are referred to as of otolaryngologists

They explore inner ear problems with balance etc. When I went into his exam room he used some instruments to clean wax from ears. I was amazed with how much came out. I have always been a small amount of wax guy (or so I thought). I have always been pleased with cotton swabs after showers, and seems ok. I still do this and this thread has opened my eyes to be more pro-active in dealing with this.

Thanks for all the suggestions offered. I will certainly begin to try some. After all we can have great gear, in the end (no pun intended), whats in the ear that blocks the signals is as important as the gear.

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I just ordered an ear wax removal kit with vacuum. I’ll report later how it does

Vacuum? Please proceed with extreme caution. That sounds dangerous.

Is there a doctor in the house?

I’ve had luck with commercial ear-wax softener or hydrogen peroxide (commercial, -3% solution?) followed by those rubber bulb/syringes to squirt warm water into the ear canal.

I’ll keep the forum posted. I read from Mayo Clinic It’s a small vacuum specifically for removal of wax