Product testing: WaxVac ear cleaner

Product Test: WaxVac

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It promises it is a safe and easy alternative to cotton swabs.

The WaxVac ear cleaner uses suction to draw wax and moisture from the ear.

We picked it up for about $10 at CVS and Kristen, Ashley, and a brave volunteer put it to the test on WBTV News Saturday Morning.

We also asked Dr. Eric Mair with Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates for his thoughts about the WaxVac.  His opinions and advice follow:

"Cotton swabs at home are not safe for mining wax as I have treated many eardrum perforations from misadventures   So, I enthusiastically rooted for waxvac after seeing the eye-catching commercial on TV.  It's not too loud; it doesn't hurt; and it is inexpensive.  Unfortunately, it just does not work.  Have your ENT doc peek in your ear with an otoscope looking for impacted wax.  We can even show it to you with our fiberoptic scopes on monitors.  Use the WaxVac.  Open the canister.  No wax.  Maybe a smidge of wax on the nozzle from poking it in the ear.  Now look back in the ear with the otoscope.  Wax still there.

So if the WaxVac doesn't work and I can't use swabs, then what's the best way to clean out my ears?

Mix equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and water. Allow the mixture to reach body temperature and then gently irrigate the ear no more than once a month.

Or you can mix one part plain vinegar and one part water and use a few drops weekly.  You can also use plain mineral oil to soften the hard wax.

You can choose to make an appointment with an ENT doctor to have ear wax removed with a microscope, or try an over-the-counter treatment to soften the ear wax so it can be flushed out.

Wax is not evil!  It protects against maceration and bacteria when wax occurs naturally in moderation.  A little is good.  Too much can cause hearing loss, and impaction can lead to swimmer's ear.  I strongly recommend seeing your ENT doctor if there is associated hearing loss, dizziness, weak facial muscles, pain, tenderness, or drainage. "

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