Man holding his ear thinking of ear ringing myths

How To Remove Water From Your Ear: 10 Tips

Published: June 7, 2023

If you have ever experienced trapped water in your ear canal, you might want to know how best to remove it. It’s an unpleasant and irritating sensation that may cause sounds to be muffled, cause inflammation, and could potentially lead to an ear infection or other issues. Typically, the water will drain on its own but sometimes it can get stuck, and you may need to try to remove it yourself. Here are 10 tips that could help remove water from your ear. 

How to remove water from your ear

If you experience trapped water in your ear canal, don’t panic. There are a number of actions you can take at home to remove water from your ear. However, if your ear is inflamed or swollen, you may have developed an ear infection. If so, then consult with your medical professional as soon as possible, as prolonged ear infections could lead to hearing loss. 

Jiggle your earlobe

This is the most familiar method that anyone who has gone swimming should know about. As the name suggests, simply grab your earlobe and gently tug or wiggle it, whilst tilting your head towards your shoulder. 

Let gravity help

Gravity is a beautiful thing, and it’s beneficial for more than just keeping us fixed on the ground. Simply lay on your side for a couple of minutes, or as long as you need, with a towel against your ear, and let gravity do the rest. The idea is to let the water slowly drain out of the ear.

Make a vacuum

No, you can leave the Hoover out of this. The vacuum here is a force that will act to “suck” the water out of your ear.

  • Tilt your head sideways, on the side of the affected ear, resting your ear on your cupped palm, which will create a tight seal.
  • Gently pulse your hand back and forth against the ear in a rapid movement. Make sure to flatten your hand against your ear when you push against it, and cup your hand when you pull it away to generate the vacuum.
  • Allow the water to drain out of your ear.

Get a blow dryer

While it may seem counterintuitive to blow air into your ear if you are trying to get water out, the heat from the blow dryer will help. 

  • Switch the blow dryer onto its lowest setting.
  • Position the hair dryer roughly a foot away from your affected ear. Make sure to move the hair dryer in a back-and-forth motion. 
  • At the same time, gently tug down on your earlobe, to let the warm air into your ear.

Young man wearing glasses holding his ear out of pain or a crackling in his ear.

Alcohol and Vinegar Drops

Here is where you might think that adding more liquid to your ear cannot be helpful. However, alcohol could assist in evaporating the water from your ear and vinegar could help if the cause of the water being trapped is from earwax buildup. It is important to understand that the alcohol referenced here is rubbing alcohol. Please do not use alcoholic spirits as they may damage your ear. Moreso, do not use this method if you are currently suffering from any of these conditions:

  • Middle ear infection
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Tympanostomy tubes

Below are the steps to create the alcohol and vinegar solution as well as how to apply it:

  • Make the eardrops by combining equal parts rubbing alcohol and vinegar. 
  • Apply three or four drops of the alcohol and vinegar mixture into your ear using a sterile dropper.
  • After adding the drops, gently rub the outside of your ear. 
  • After 30 seconds, tilt your head sideways to let everything drain out. 

Hydrogen Peroxide Ear Drops

Most commonly used as a cleaning material, or a hair-dying fad in the 1990s, hydrogen peroxide solutions can assist with clearing debris and earwax. The solution would be even more beneficial if the buildup of earwax is the cause of water becoming trapped in your ear. The best solution is to find eardrops that contain a solution of hydrogen peroxide with something like urea, to unclog your ears.

It is important to note that if you suffer from the following conditions, you should not use this method:

  • Pain, swelling, warmth, drainage, bleeding, or any other signs of infection or injury.
  • Middle ear infection.
  • Perforated eardrum.
  • Tympanostomy tube.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is incredibly versatile and has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Not only can olive oil be used to assist with removing water from your ears but it also helps prevent an ear infection.

  • In a small bowl, warm some olive oil. Test the temperature to make sure it’s not too hot by placing a few drops on your inner wrist. 
  • Place three or four drops of the warmed olive oil into the affected ear using a sterile dropper.
  • Lie down in the same position (so that your affected ear is facing upwards) for roughly 10 minutes.
  • Tilt your affected ear downward after sitting up, where the water and oil should drain out.

More Water

Again, while this may sound counterintuitive, more water could aid in removing the water that is currently trapped in your ear. 

  • Lie on your side with the affected ear pointing up.
  • Using a sterile dropper, or syringe, gently fill the ear with water.
  • After roughly 5 seconds, turn over to your other side to allow all the water to drain out. Make sure you put a towel down to catch all the water. 

Over-the-counter ear drops

While this would require you to visit a pharmacist, it is still one last step before you would need to visit a healthcare provider for assistance. There are several over-the-counter ear drops that can aid with removing water from your ear, as well as kill bacteria and remove earwax. Make sure to chat with your pharmacist about their recommended solutions.

Things to avoid

While these home remedies could aid in removing water from your ear, there are some things you should avoid at all costs. If these remedies are not helpful in removing the water, do not use ear swabs, fingers, or other objects to dig inside the ear, as they may:

  • Injure your ear canal.
  • Puncture the eardrum.
  • Introduce bacteria to the ear.
  • Push the water deeper into your middle ear.

In summary

There are a number of home remedies you could try before seeking professional medical help, but it is important to use caution when attempting any of them. Water typically exits the ear by itself or with the use of these remedies, but if it doesn’t, we suggest seeking professional medical attention as soon as possible, to avoid any possible complications, such as an ear infection or damage to the eardrum.

Image of post writer Robert de Wit.

Written by Robert de Wit

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