It is safe to use olive oil to clean the ear wax as advised here?

This site said it's good:

Although there are questions about the effectiveness of any specific ear drops, olive oil -- as long as it's the same or cooler than body temperature -- is not a harmful treatment. Start by placing room temperature olive oil into an ear dropper. Next, put a few drops of olive oil in the affected ear twice daily for 3 to 4 days, and lay on your side for several minutes to allow the oil to penetrate the wax more deeply. After your last planned treatment, and if necessary to get the wax out, use a bulb syringe to gently spray warm water into the ear to encourage the lubricated wax to fall from the ear.

But this said it's bad:

It's a remedy as old as time, but using olive oil for resolving hearing problems is not a good idea.

Here's why: olive oil softens ear wax, of that there is no doubt, but the wax sludge that results still does not go anywhere in the average sized ear canal.


1 Answer 1


Based on this systematic review, The safety and effectiveness of different methods of ear wax removal: a systematic review and economic evaluation:

On measures of wax clearance Cerumol, sodium bicarbonate, olive oil and water are all more effective than no treatment; triethanolamine polypeptide (TP) is better than olive oil; wet irrigation is better than dry irrigation; sodium bicarbonate drops followed by irrigation by nurse is more effective than sodium bicarbonate drops followed by self-irrigation ....

However, it should be noticed that:

limited good-quality evidence of the safety, benefits and costs of the different strategies, making it difficult to differentiate between the various methods for removing earwax and rendering the economic evaluation as speculative reference.

  • 1
    Wow. I commissioned that review over a decade ago. Good to see it’s still of use.
    – rhialto
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 23:51
  • Does anybody know why Triethanolamine Polypeptide (TP) is better than olive oil? (And is extra virgin olive oil better than refined?) Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 1:50

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