Can You Put Rubbing Alcohol in Your Ear?

Can You Put Rubbing Alcohol in Your Ear?

Rubbing alcohol is one of the home remedies that are used to treat blockage of the ear caused by excessive wax, clean the ear regularly, dry ear discharge, and get rid of conditions like Swimmer’s Ear.

However, rubbing alcohol in a high concentration or in the wrong way can irritate the ear and worsen your condition. Also, there are certain conditions where it is best to avoid rubbing alcohol.

So, are you wondering “Can you put rubbing alcohol in your ear” and “How do you put it in your ear”? If yes, we have a guide on the usage of rubbing alcohol in the ear for you.

Can You Put Rubbing Alcohol in Your Ear?

The scientific name of rubbing alcohol isopropyl alcohol and it contains about 70% of pure alcohol in it. While alcohol at such high concentrations is not drinkable and can be lethal, it is useful for other purposes as it works as an antiseptic agent.

Rubbing alcohol has properties to kill the microbes and also dry the excessive fluids. That is why most ear drops used to clean ears, treat ear infections, and prevent swimmer’s ears contain a diluted form of rubbing alcohol.

Furthermore, it helps in getting rid of symptoms like,

  • Blocked ear
  • Bad odor coming from the ear
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Fluid in the ear
  • Earache

Therefore, you can directly use rubbing alcohol in your ear as long as you are aware of the precautions of using it. Here are some conditions where putting rubbing alcohol in the ear can be harmful,

  • Severe infection of the middle ear
  • Perforation of the tympanic membrane or eardrum
  • Recent surgery or radiotherapy in the ear
  • Injury to the ear canal

In the conditions given above, it is best to consult with an ENT specialist about proper management of the disease of your ear as rubbing alcohol in these cases is either ineffective or unsafe for usage.

How to Put Rubbing Alcohol in the Ear Safely?

The ear drops used to treat swimmer’s ears available in pharmacies are made of an equal proportion of rubbing alcohol and glycerine. Rubbing alcohol helps make the ear dry and clean and glycerine makes it gentle.

While you can use over-the-counter rubbing alcohol drops according to the instructions given in the box, using rubbing alcohol at home can be a little different.

So, let us talk about how to put rubbing alcohol in the ear safely.

Preparing Your Rubbing Alcohol

Here are the steps to make rubbing alcohol at home.

  • Take a container having a capacity of 50 to 100 ml
  • Put 25 to 50 ml of rubbing alcohol in it
  • Around 25 ml of boric acid (optional as boric acid plus rubbing alcohol drops are used in cleaning the ear while rubbing alcohol alone is used for other conditions)
  • Put an equal amount of white vinegar in it that is also 25 to 50 ml
  • Mix the ingredients gently

Also, you can change the quantity of ingredients according to requirements. Just use rubbing alcohol and white vinegar in 1:1.

Step-by-Step Guide on Applying Rubbing Alcohol Safely

Here are the steps to apply rubbing alcohol to your ears to irrigate them.

  • Grab a spoon and your container with homemade rubbing alcohol
  • Take a small tray or towel
  • Tilt your head and keep the tray or towel under the ear
  • Now put about 1 spoonful of rubbing alcohol in the ear
  • Wait for a few minutes
  • Drain the excess alcohol from your ear into the tray
  • Tilt the head to the opposite side
  • Put 1 spoon of homemade rubbing alcohol in it as well
  • Wait again and drain it out
  • After irrigating your ears with rubbing alcohol, rinse them with lukewarm water

Using a spoon to put rubbing alcohol in the ears can be convenient. However, it can get messy. Therefore, you can consider buying a bulb syringe and using it for the irrigation of your ear canal with rubbing alcohol.

How Long to Leave Rubbing Alcohol in Ear?

A 5ml quantity of rubbing alcohol in each ear is enough to irrigate the ear, kill the microbes, remove the debris, and dry excess fluid. However, it is essential to leave it in the ear for an adequate amount of time allowing it to work.

According to Medical News Today, leaving it for 5 minutes is more than enough [1]. In addition, Amplifon Clinic recommends leaving it in each ear for upto 10 minutes [2].

Considering both of these authentic and reliable sites, we suggest that you leave it in the ear for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

Also, you can rinse your ears with lukewarm water after irrigating them with rubbing alcohol. It will remove the residues of rubbing alcohol and prevent ear irritation.

Alternatives to Rubbing Alcohol for Ear Care

Rubbing alcohol might not be available or suitable for some people. So, here are some alternatives to rubbing alcohol for ear care.

Natural Less-Irritating Solutions

Some easily available solutions present at home can be used to deal with the conditions we mentioned above if you do not want to use rubbing alcohol. For example,

  • Hydrogen peroxide works effectively for softening and removing impacted wax
  • Olive oil or glycerine is great for softening hard wax gently
  • Vinegar helps in killing microbes and treating ear infections

Over-the-Counter Ear Drops

Several over-the-counter ear drops can serve as an alternative to rubbing alcohol. The benefits of such drops include,

  • No mess or confusion in making DIY eardrops
  • A safe concentration of rubbing alcohol and other ingredients
  • Work faster as compared to homemade solutions

Lukewarm Water or Normal Saline

At times, rubbing in the ear can be painful and give your ear a sensation of burning the ears. In such cases, it is best to avoid rubbing alcohol and use the mildest treatment to clean the ears.

So, here are your options for irrigating the ear canal gently.

  • Lukewarm water
  • A saline solution is prepared by mixing salt into warm water

A Mandatory Precaution Before Putting Anything in the Ear

Whether you use rubbing alcohol or other home remedies in the ear, there are certain conditions like perforated ear drum where inserting any solution in the ear can be harmful. We mentioned such conditions earlier.

Therefore, always examine your ear with the Bebird Note5 Pro Ear Camera to rule out such diseases before using any remedy.


Rubbing alcohol is an effective treatment for many conditions related to the ear with Swimmer’s ear being the most prominent one. While it is efficient, precautions must be taken to use it.

Therefore, we discussed the best way to use rubbing alcohol in your ear and conditions where you should avoid it.


1. Can alcohol help treat certain ear conditions? Medically reviewed by Megan Soliman, MD — By Nadia Zorzan on November 24, 2022. Medical News Today.

2. Rubbing alcohol and boric acid to clean and uncork ears. Updated on November 29, 2023. Amplifon Clinic.

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