Ear Cleaning: The Problem with Cotton Swabs

Ear Cleaning: The Problem with Cotton Swabs

Cotton swabs can sometimes cause more harm than good. Luckily, technology brings us a better way of cleaning our ears.

When I took my mother to buy a hearing aid, one of the first things they did was to clean her ears. It’s not always easy to do that safely. I recently attended a meeting of AARP’s Life@50+ and came across this company. Here is a short summary of what they are developing to help with that problem.

First of all, what’s wrong with cotton swabs?

1. Cotton swabs push earwax deeper into your ear canal and cause a plug
Earwax buildup can cause itchiness, dizziness, pain, & ringing in the ears

2. They can puncture your eardrum
• 1 in 2000 pediatric office visits and 3 in 1000 ENT visits are solely for cotton-tipped swab related injuries
• “In trying to remove it, people often get into trouble … they’ve got a cotton swab in their ear and somebody nudges their elbow and all of a sudden they’ve done serious damage to their middle ear.”  – Dr. Charles Beatty

Earwax buildup can cause itchiness, dizziness, pain, & ringing in the ears

3. They cause more itchiness than relief
• Using cotton swabs –> dryness in ear canal –> itchy ears –> back to using cotton swabs.

4. Not eco-friendly
• 25.5 billion cotton swabs are produced each year & have been around for 90+ yrs, so imagine how many were used and thrown away since its invention.

Say hello to Oto-Tip: the new cotton swab…

This is our modern spin on the nearly century old cotton swab design: The Oto-Tip. The Oto-tip is an automated spinning swab that is made of a soft, flexible tip for basic ear cleaning. There is a blue cap on the oto-tip that prevents it from being inserted too far into the ear. The shape of the tip is tapered and with the press of the button, the tip will spin, pulling debris outwards. The tip can be washed off and is reusable for future ear cleanings, thereby eliminating waste.

Say hello to TECHOME: for deep cleaning…

For people who have earwax plugs, the traditional method of deep ear cleaning is irrigation, in which a metal syringe is filled with water and a large water jet is injected straight into the ear canal to flush out the wax. As the water leaves the ear, it is captured in a tray, which often times leave the patient quite wet. If the water isn’t body temperature, this can cause dizziness. Not to mention, they had to take a day off of work for the visit! Our TEC Home is an ear wash to clean out plugs. It heats up the water to body temperature, sprays the water to the sides of the canal, and has some suction to eliminate the messiness. The idea is that if you can clean your ears at home every so often, that will make the larger build-ups less likely.

Oto-Tip and Tec Home

Oto-Tip and Tec Home


About The Company

Clear Ear Inc. is a privately held medical device company focused on delivering hearing innovations that make ears around the world happier. Founded out of the Stanford Biodesign Program in 2011, its first product line addresses the number one cause of hearing loss and hearing-aid failure worldwide–cerumen (a.k.a. ear wax). This solution seeks to expand patient access and improve quality of ear care for the 47M Americans and over 350M patients affected worldwide.

Click here to learn more and pre-order.