Rubbing alcohol and boric acid to clean and uncork ears

Last update on Nov, 29, 2023

Rubbing alcohol or boric acid are a simple and effective methods for both cleaning and unclogging your ears. Although both products are safe and often recommended by doctors, there are specific cases where using these substances can be risky.

Therefore, before proceeding to clean your ear with either substance, it is best to consult a specialist to ensure that you are performing the cleaning correctly and to rule out the need for professional intervention.

Is it possible to put boric acid in the ear?

Boric acid, also known as orthoboric acid, is a mild acid with antiseptic properties capable of killing viruses and bacteria. It's commonly used topically to treat infections and for ear cleaning, often in the form of boric water (a pre-made solution in which boric acid is highly diluted).

When using boric acid for an ear treatment, it’s essential to consider that its use should be avoided in the presence of trauma or acute infections. Additionally, always ensure the substance is correctly diluted and used in the right proportions to prevent unwanted complications.

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Is it safe to put boric acid in the ear?

If you carefully follow the instructions of your medical specialist, the use of boric acid or boric water for ear treatment is absolutely safe. However, it is crucial to pay close attention to the dosage, concentration, and method of use. The ear is a delicate organ, and an improper use of medical devices can lead to dryness, itching, inflammation, and, in extreme cases, even hearing loss.

A few precautions to keep in mind when using boric acid-based solutions for ear care are:

  • Cleaning the ear canal before starting a drainage.
  • Ensuring that the solution does not burn excessively when it comes into contact with the skin.
  • In case of bleeding, contact a doctor, as it may be a symptom of ongoing inflammation.
  • Avoiding contact with water during the treatment, use dry cotton under the shower and avoiding submerging the head underwater.

How to use rubbing alcohol and boric acid in the ear?

Ear washing with rubbing alcohol and boric acid is simple. All you need to do is follow a few steps:

  • Begin by gathering the necessary materials: a towel, a syringe without a needle, and correctly diluted rubbing alcohol or boric acid as per medical instructions.
  • Gently insert the solution into the ear using the syringe and tilt your head to one side for about ten minutes, allowing the solution to take effect. Keep the towel around the ear to prevent contact with your face and eyes.
  • Rinse the ear with lukewarm water and gently dry it.
  • Repeat the procedure on the other side.

Contraindications and risks

There are a few contraindications when treating ears with rubbing alcohol and boric acid. First and foremost, the treatment should not be performed in the presence of a perforated eardrum or if you suffer from ongoing acute infections.

It is also crucial to avoid inserting the syringe too far into the ear and to direct the stream in a way that prevents damage to the eardrum. Lastly, it is not recommended to use antiseptic solutions on a daily basis; they should be limited to treating specific issues and for periodic cleanings.

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Why put rubbing alcohol or boric acid in the ear?

Water in ears

Ear washing with denatured alcohol can help prevent swimmer's ear. Swimmer's ear occurs when water in the ears is not properly drained after a bath, leaving a moist environment in the ear canal that promotes the growth of bacteria. Washing the ears with alcohol after immersing your head helps facilitates the evaporation of residual water.

Ear cleaning

Both rubbing alcohol and boric acid are great options for ear cleaning. They both have disinfectant properties that discourage the proliferation of viruses and bacteria, helping to keep the ear healthy in adults and children over three years of age.

Ear wax: plugged ears

If you are experiencing plugged ears, rubbing alcohol and boric acid can help soften and expel the accumulations of earwax, even before drainage is performed.


Due to their antiseptic properties, both rubbing alcohol and boric acid can be used to treat ear fungal infections, also known as otomycosis. Using these substances in repeated washes for several days can help get rid of the fungi that causes the infection.

Other home remedies for cleaning and unclogging ears

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can be used as an alternative remedy to rubbing alcohol or boric acid for ear cleaning and softening earwax plugs, due to its antiseptic properties. However, it is crucial to refrain from self-treatment and instead consult a healthcare professional to learn about any potential contraindications and prevent complications.


Vinegar is a very useful remedy, especially when used in combination with denatured alcohol. Its acidity can lower the pH of the external auditory canal, helping to prevent ear infections.


Many over-the-counter eardrops contain a combination of water, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, which are substances also found in the products discussed in this article. For this reason,when recommended by a specialist, these eardrops can also be helpful for treating ear disorders and dissolving earwax plugs.

Saline solution

A simple solution of water and salt, with its high concentration of mineral salts like sodium chloride and magnesium, is an excellent skin antiseptic that can help prevent ear infections. Saline solution can be used as an alternative to boric acid, denatured alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide.
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