“Although rare, aggressive cleaning of the inside of the ear canal can perforate the eardrum,” says Julie Wei, M.D., an assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
But gently going over the outer ear with a cotton swab is fine. You shouldn’t have to “clean out” your ears, anyway, since wax should naturally migrate toward the ear opening. If excessive wax build-up is a problem, place a few drops of mineral oil, baby oil, glycerine or an earwax softener into the ear.
If it still feels clogged or painful, consult an ear, nose and throat specialist.