Cleaning ears out with 70% alcohol. Is that okay?

I get a lot of infections in my left ear so like to normally clean my ear out with antibacterial wipes suitable for first aid.

People still seem to be panic buying as I can’t find them in any stores.

As my ear was suffering from not cleaning it out with antibacterial wipes, my friend gave me some liquid that is 70% alcohol.

Would it be safe to clean my ear out? I don’t go deep, it’s just where my finger can reach.

Does anyone else do the same?

Despite being a HA wearer all my life, I’ve never had an issue with wax.

I asked my brother-in-law, who is a physician, a comparable question. Choosing between chlorhexidine and 70-90% alcohol ketonatus*, he said that they rather used the desinfectant chlorhexidine, because alcohol is not that good for the skin.

I don’t know what is in skin-wipes. Sometimes it’s a whitish substance, sometimes clear. I used them when I had a few cartons that were cluttering my desktop. I rather liked them, too. But it’s a hassle and a hustle. They always find their way to the floor of my study and they cost.

I have been using chlorhexidine for 3 years now. Every morning I use a cotton tip to clean the custom molds and my ears. If I forget, I get punished with itches. So I don’t forget anymore. For me it works better than alcohol 70% or 90%. So it seems my brother-in-law was right.

*Alcohol ketonatus is the Dutch nomenclature for alcohol that’s been “denaturated”. Essentially, alcohol that through the usage of a ketone (in the Netherlands it’s usually butanone) is made undrinkable and should not be used for human consumption.

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Thanks for that. I think whiles we are in lockdown, I’ll use the liquid but as soon as the virus lessens, I’ll try and get my normal stuff to use.


I use a product, brand name is Audiclean, that I buy in Boots. It’s described as being a gentle wash to clean out our ears. You can search it on their web-site,


Try this recipe, there are others if you do a search. I tried this and it’s fine for me.
The key to making an effective, germ-busting hand sanitizer is to stick to a 2:1 proportion of alcohol to aloe vera. This keeps the alcohol content around 60 percent. This is the minimum amount needed to kill most germs, according to the CDCTrusted Source.

Try this. I bought it at CVS but you can also get it online:

I would be very reluctant to use chlorhexidine in my ears based on my experience with extreme skin irritation when it was used as a sterilizing solution for a central line dressing was changed weekly when I had leukemia 6 years ago. My skin turned bright red under the dressing. It cleared up when the central line was replaced with another in a different spot.

For the 2nd line, I asked that an iodine solution (betadine) be used and this did not cause irritation, just a yellow stain.


Although I think it is a very good approach for a central line, I don’t think I want that yellow stain in my ears. :slight_smile:

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When I was a child (1950’s), I swam a lot in fresh water (rivers, ponds, etc). Always a high risk of getting an ear infection. My doctor recommended that I put a few drops of rubbing alcohol in my ears right after swimming. I did and I have never had another ear infection caused by swimming in fresh water.

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Yeah, it’s fine. 50:50 alcohol and vinegar is a pretty common flush for swimmer’s ear. The alcohol can be drying if used regularly. Discontinue if any pain or discomfort. Avoid if there’s a known perforation–not because it will really cause trouble, but it will sting like hell. I have at least one patient with troublesome ears who was advised to use it as a drop by his ENT and does so most days; his ear canals have never looked better.

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This is the scariest thread I’ve read in a while.

What type of alcohol and percentage is “riubbing” alcohol?

Rubbing Alcohol is 70% isopropyl. It is a first aid antiseptic for rubbing and massaging to decrease germs in minor cuts and scrapes. Buy it off the shelf in about any store in the USA.

I use 91% because that’s what I have. Since I’m not likely to be able to get anything else anytime soon, and I can’t very easily soap up the inside of my ear canals…

Thanks. I use (higher percentage) IPA (isopropyl alcohol) in electronics work. Rubbing Alcohol was not in my vocabulary. I sometimes use alcohol prep pads for cleaning small things. Same stuff (70% IPA)…

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I have used hydrogen peroxide for years, works fine by loosening wax
which I then wash out with warm water. Starkey recommended peroxide in their wax removal instructions. Harry T.

Alcohol wipes are 70%. The alcohol can be drying on skin but is otherwise ok. Some people can be allergic to Chlorhexidine and it would leave your ear more moist for longer. You could maybe make your own wipes as the liquid alcohol would act to disinfect. I would not use alcohol gels. I would also be careful to only use it on the skin at the entrance to the ear canal - not within the canal.

I’ve been using the alcohol on a cotton pad (new cotton pad every time) for 2 days now and it’s really helping and I’m noticing no issues with the liquid which is good.

You don’t want to use Debrox with a punctured ear drum. It can be very painful!

I would use hydrogen peroxide. Debrox is a good product also.

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Do not use Chlorhexidine with perforated eardrum… Ototoxicity in middle ear

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