18 DIY Remedies for Dealing with Plugged Ears

18 DIY Remedies for Dealing with Plugged Ears

If you find yourself dealing with plugged ears, you should treat the situation lightly. You do not want to risk damaging your ears. Any amount of obstruction in your ears could be a threat to your hearing.

Plugged ears can be caused by a number of different issues, including the buildup of wax or changes in air pressure. Fortunately, there are home remedies that you can use to deal with these problems. By using one of these 18 DIY remedies for dealing with plugged ears, you can save yourself a trip to the doctor.

Do Not Use Cotton Swabs

Woman cleaning ear

This first tip is not actually a remedy, but a warning. Do not use cotton swabs to try and unplug your ears. Cotton swabs should not be inserted into your ear canal. Instead, you should use them to remove wax along the outer part of your ear. Using a cotton swab to clean the inside of your ears could push earwax further into your ear canal.

Use Olive Oil to Remove Earwax

Plugged Ears olive oil

You can attempt to remove ear wax by using olive oil. Heat up a small amount of olive oil and then wait for the wax to cool. It should lukewarm and not hot. In fact, never put any hot substances in your ears. Throughout this list of remedies, you may come across other treatments that require you to heat an ingredient. Always allow the ingredients to cool before placing in your ear.

After allowing the olive oil to cool slightly, place several drops of each ear. The oil should soften ear wax, so that it can easily drain out of your ears. You may need to tilt your head to help remove the wax.

Take a Hot Shower

The steam from a hot shower could relieve pressure in your ears and help loosen earwax. Take a steamy shower for about fifteen minutes. This should be a sufficient amount of time to help clear your ear canals.

Use Steam from a Tea Kettle

Plugged Ears steam

If you do not want to waste water by taking a long, hot shower, you could produce the same effect by using a tea kettle. Boil water in a tea kettle and then remove from the heat. Tilt your head over the top of the kettle and allow the steam to penetrate your ears. This provides the same benefits as taking a hot shower.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Girl dripping ear drops to man

Use hydrogen peroxide to remove any buildup of wax in your ears. Fill a dropper with hydrogen peroxide. Lie down and place your head on a towel. Start adding drops of hydrogen peroxide to your ear, until you feel that the ear canal is full. Wait several minutes and then tiler your head to allow the water to drain. Use the towel to keep the hydrogen peroxide and any wax to get on your clothes or furniture.

Use Isopropyl Alcohol and Vinegar

Using a combination of isopropyl alcohol and vinegar can help unplug your ears if you notice they become plugged after taking a shower or swimming in a pool. Combine one drop of alcohol with one drop of vinegar. This combination will help dry your ears out and kill any bacteria.

Use a Damp Towel

Rolled towel for refreshness

Use a hot, damp towel to help soften earwax. Hold the damp towel to your plugged ear for several minutes. You may even want to lie down with the towel over your ear. Afterwards, flush your ear with warm water and tilt your head over a sink.

Use a Hot Water Bottle

Portrait of a smiling young woman with a hot water bottle

Using a hot water bottle can provide the same benefit as using a damp towel. It can also help to alleviate pain related to an ear infection. Remember to flush your ear with warm water afterwards.

Apply Warm Salt

Use warm salt to relieve an ear infection, soften earwax, and relieve pressure. Fill a cloth bag with warm salt and lay your ear on it. After about fifteen minutes, flush your ear with warm water.

Make Yourself Yawn

Plugged Ears yawn

If you believe that your plugged ears are the result of built up pressure, such as when experiencing altitude changes in an airplane, try yawning. This will stretch muscles and adjust your ears, helping to unplug your ears and relieve pressure.


Swallowing provide the same benefit as yawning. It can relieve pressure in your ear canals to help clear your plugged ears. You may even want to try switching between yawning and swallowing.

Drink a Glass of Water

Plugged Ears water

Drinking a glass of water could also help relieve pressure, as you need to swallow the water. It may also limit pain or irritation related to an ear infection.

Chew Gum


Chewing gum also provides pressure relief. Take a stick of gum with you when you board an airplane. Chewing on the gum could prevent your ears from becoming plugged in the first place.

Use Baby Oil

Children's powder and oil

Use several drops of baby oil, or mineral oil, to help clear your ears. This could help eliminate a buildup of wax or other debris. Give the oil time to soften the earwax. Leave the oil in your ear for about one hour and then flush it with water.

Plug Your Nose

Plugged Ears plug nose

Plug your nose with your fingers and close your mouth, as if holding your breath. Try to take a deep breath in your nose and then attempt to exhale. Even though your nostrils are closed, this process will help create pressure in your ears, which may unplug them.


Man who gargles

Gargle a glass of hot salt water. This may unclog your ears and could also help with nasal congestion, if you believe that sinus problems are a part of the issue. Fill a glass with warm water and add one teaspoon of salt. Gargle the solution for about thirty seconds and then spit it into a sink.

Use Tea Tree Oil

Plugged Ears tea tree

In a small saucepan, boil one cup of water. Once the water starts boiling, remove it from the heat and place several drops of tea tree oil in the water. Hold your ear over the steam and allow the steam to work its way through your ear canal. This could relieve pressure, loosen earwax, and provide pain relief from an ear infection.


Massage Your Ears

Ear Reflexology

The final tip for unplugging your ears is to massage your ears. This could help loosen wax. Gently massage your ears, directly behind your earlobes. Perform this massage for several minutes, using a circular motion. Afterwards, tug on your earlobes, while opening and closing your mouth. Hopefully, this should loosen any wax in your ears. You could then flush your ears with water.

Whether you are dealing with plugged ears due to pressure, a buildup of wax, an ear infection, or from sinus problems, try using one of the treatments described. Always remember to avoid putting hot substances in your ears and never use a cotton swab to clean out the inside of your ear canals.

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