Ear Syringing – Updated July 2020

Why we NO LONGER routinely syringe ears:

If you have been having your ear/s syringed regularly, you may be disappointed by this regime. However ear syringing is known to lead to ear infections, perforated ear drum and tinnitus (persistent noise).

We have evaluated our current practice and feel we should encourage best, safe practice. Using drops to soften the wax will enable the natural movement of the wax from the ear/s.

If you have an ear wax problem causing deafness and your ear/s are otherwise healthy, you can start ear drop treatment yourself.

You will need some ordinary olive oil (or almond), a pipette or spoon (there are also products available OTC which have a spray type nozzle), an old towel, and an area like a table to lay your head.

  • Have the oil at room temperature
  • Place 2-3 drops of olive oil into the ear 2-3 times a day for 3 weeks.

How to do it:

  • Using a pipette or spoon Gently pull the outer ear backwards and upwards, fill the ear with the drops of oil, this is easier to do if you lay your head on a surface like a table.
  • You need to lie there for AT LEAST 5 minutes. Once this is done use the towel to remove any excess oil from the outer ear.


The olive oil helps to softens the wax, (which is usually dispelled by the ear itself naturally), you may not necessarily see wax come out as it often comes out unnoticed.

How to help prevent wax build up:

Ear wax has a protective function and normally moves out automatically from inside the ear canal to the outside without the need to remove it yourself. If you have a build-up of wax repeatedly, you can help to keep it mobile by putting olive oil drops in twice a week. An alternative softener is Sodium Bicarbonate 5% which can be obtained from your local pharmacist.

CAUTION: If you have, or suspect you have any kind of problem with the ear other than wax build up (discharge, temperature, pain) do not put anything down the ear canal and book an appointment with a GP.

Alternative to Ear Irrigation:

Microsuction is not available on the NHS but is widely available. This is a system where the wax is gently removed using suction. The results are instant and it removes the need for oiling.

This protocol is to be reviewed in 2021.

Date published: 24th July, 2020
Date last updated: 24th July, 2020