Step away from the cotton swabs: They can shove wax further into your ear. Earwax, while kind of gross, is actually a good thing because its a sticky shield that protects your eardrums from bacteria and dirt.
"What is it, anyway?"
Sloughed-off old skin cells and oil. But it's healthy—it cleans your ears and pushes out bacteria.
"How do I get rid of it?"
You don't! Your body does it naturally, through chewing and other jaw motions. If you really need to clean, wash your outer ear with a cloth and warm soapy water. You can also place a few drops of baby oil or drugstore antiwax peroxide drops (like Debrox) into your ear to help wax fall out.
"What about candling?"
Putting candles into your ear and lighting the wick is a no-no. "I've seen burns and ruptured eardrums as a result," says Douglas Backous, MD, medical director of the Center for Hearing and Skull Base Surgery at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle.