Ear drops with hydrogen peroxide may be a safe, cost-effective, and easy-to-use treatment to help remove earwax buildup at home.

Hydrogen peroxide is a common ingredient in liquid ear drops, known as cerumenolytics.

These are typically the first methods used to help treat an ear impaction, which may be caused by excess earwax. They may also be used to soften earwax before other treatments.

Ear wax, or cerumen, is a natural substance that helps protect your ear canal from water, infection, and irritants.

However, nearly 6% of people in the United States have cerumen impaction, which may cause symptoms like:

If you’re experiencing acute pain, drainage, or bleeding in your ear, get medical help immediately. These are not symptoms of wax impaction and may be a sign of something more serious.

Over-the-counter (OTC) cerumenolytic solutions typically contain 3% hydrogen peroxide. They release oxygen to soften, break up, or dissolve your earwax.

Carbamide peroxide is a commonly prescribed ear drop.

Ear drop treatment

Here’s a general approach to using hydrogen peroxide ear drops:

  1. Lie on your side with the affected ear facing the ceiling.
  2. Administer the instructed number of drops into your ear canal. It’s common to hear a crinkling, fizzling, or bubbling sound when the liquid solution enters your ear canal.
  3. Keep still for 5 minutes or as long as the ear drops’ guidelines state.
  4. Sit up and lean over a sink to allow any liquid to leak out or use a tissue to blot the outer ear.
  5. Repeat this process for your other ear if necessary.
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The treatment amount, frequency, and duration may vary depending on the brand and solution type.

For example, you may need to administer your drops more than once per day over several days.

Always read the ear drop application guidelines.

Speak with a doctor before using hydrogen peroxide ear drops, especially if you’ve had, or currently have, a ruptured ear drum, infection, or tympanostomy tubes.

In some cases, cerumenolytic solutions may cause:

If hydrogen peroxide ear drops aren’t doing the trick for you, speak with a doctor to discuss safe alternative earwax removal methods, such as:

It’s important never to put objects in your ears, such as cotton swabs and ear candles. Despite popular belief, these may push the earwax further into your ear and cause serious complications.

Does hydrogen peroxide really dissolve ear wax?

Hydrogen peroxide eardrops can help soften earwax. They release oxygen to soften, break up, or dissolve your earwax. They may be available over-the-counter or in a stronger prescription form.

How long does hydrogen peroxide take to soften ear wax?

Lie on your side with the affected ear facing up. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes to allow the hydrogen peroxide to penetrate and soften the earwax.

Afterward, tilt your head to allow the excess solution to drain onto a tissue or cotton ball.

Is it safe to put hydrogen peroxide in your ear?

Hydrogen peroxide eardrops are generally safe to use. Do not use hydrogen peroxide if you have an ear infection, a perforated eardrum, or tympanostomy tubes in your ear.

Most people’s ears produce enough earwax to protect against infections and water. In most cases, the wax gradually moves out of the ears and doesn’t require intervention.

Excessive earwax buildup may cause an impaction, which could require treatment.

If you’re experiencing symptoms like fullness, hearing loss, or vertigo, speak with a doctor.

This may be a sign of an ear impaction or an underlying medical condition.