remove hearing aid earwax

Successful Hearing Aid Use, part 5: Getting the earwax out

Hearing aids are tiny instruments made with even tinier parts: the microphone, circuit chip, and speaker (receiver).

Hearing aids deliver sound into the ear through a narrow “sound tube.” This tube is about the size of the lead in a pencil or a small strand of spaghetti. Because the tube is so tiny, it takes only a minuscule amount of earwax to clog up the opening and stop the hearing aid from functioning.

You might think that anyone who wears hearing aids would be aware of this common problem. However, most patients are surprised when they first encounter it.

The sound tube is usually white, but it can be any color. Sometimes the tube may not be visible because it is covered by an earmold, a dome, or a wax filter.

Earwax can easily get into the hearing tube through the sound outlet. That’s the tiny opening at the end of the tube that the amplified sound comes out of. If the tube gets fully plugged with earwax, the hearing aid goes dead. If it is partially plugged, the amplified sound is reduced.


Unclogging Hearing Aid Sound Tube


If you wear hearing aids, take a careful look at the sound outlet in each instrument. You need to know the exact location of this opening so that you can unclog the hearing tube.

Many devices have been developed to keep the tube free of wax: filters, screens, domes, and wax traps. All of these help some, but no one has come up with a real solution. Thus, the problem of wax-impacted sound tubes continues to this day.

When wax gets into the sound tube, it is difficult to see. So, when you are trying to spot wax, which is usually dark-brown colored, use a bright reading light and magnification. I use an otoscope that has both bright light and magnification, but a good reading light and a small magnifying glass work equally well. If your vision is weak, ask a friend or family member who sees well to help you look into the opening of the sound tube.

To clean an impacted sound tube, use the little wire-looped tool that came with the hearing aids. Insert the wire loop through the sound outlet and into the sound tube along the edge of the tube. Pick out any wax that you find. Be careful when inserting the cleaning wire not to push the wax deeper into the tube. The secret to successful cleaning is to get the wire behind the wax and pull it out.

If you need help with this procedure, your audiologist or hearing aid specialist will be glad to assist you. Many hearing aids come with a little cleaning cloth, but wiping the hearing aid off with a cloth will not help open a plugged sound tube.

Here are links to two web sites with further information on how to clean wax out of hearing aids.



*featured image courtesy US Army





  1. My father is starting to lose his hearing and will probably need to get hearing aids by the end of this year. Thanks for explaining that he will want to make sure that the hearing aid doesn’t get clogged with ear wax. That is good to understand because my father’s ears produce a lot of wax.

  2. Thanks for helping me understand that ear wax can get into the tube that is why it must be checked every now and then to keep it from being dead. I will share this tip with my cousin who needs one for his left ear. It was damaged which made him lost his hearing due to an accident in a motorcycle competition.

  3. I never realized that there’s a need for you to be aware of the location of the opening of your hearing aid so you can easily unclog it. My son’s hearing aid is full of earwax. To be honest, I’m afraid to clean it because I might damage it. What I want is to have it serviced without damaging its sound quality, so I’ll be sure to see a professional.

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