Homemade Dog Ear Cleaner: Top 3 Recipes That Will Make Your Life Easier

Clean your dog's ear at home
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

The ears of your dog can be really sensitive, thus you need to take time to examine them thoroughly in order to prevent infections. This means that you need to look for any signs of dirt, irritation, parasites and infection. The good news is that this is a procedure that does not take long, and you can spot eventual issues before they become painful or lead to serious problems.

At this point, it is also important to consider a homemade dog ear cleaner to eliminate wax buildup or redness. If you include this in your weekly routine, you will keep your dog safe and healthy. You can learn more about this aspect in the following paragraphs.

However, keep in mind that, in case of a more serious condition, like otitis, a professional product is recommended. You can check this great ear treatment with hydrocortisone which is easy to apply and use at home.

The anatomy of the dog’s ears

If you take your dog’s ear to analyze it, you will see that it is twisted and curvy. This makes it the right place for bacteria and parasites to develop. As a result, it is mandatory to clean it in order to prevent eventual infections.

Dog ear

Debris tends to work its way up the canal and when it gets trapped it makes the dog feel itchy and uncomfortable. It is also important to know that dogs that suffer from allergies are more vulnerable to develop problems with their ears. The same situation is valid for pets with floppy ears like poodles, cocker spaniel and bassets.

The weekly care

The ear check should become part of the grooming routine. If you notice that your dog tends to develop earwax, or it has excessive hair in its ears, you need to clean them more often. Here is how the weekly care should look:

  • Whenever the ear looks dirty, you need to clean it with a cotton ball. Though there are various solutions available on the market, it is a good idea to opt for one that you can prepare at home. You will find tested recipes in the following sections of this article;
  • It is important to understand that the skin located inside the ear it is very delicate. By no means should you scrub intensively or use solutions that can cause rashes.
  • When you clean the dog’s ears you need to stick to the external parts. To be more exact, it is forbidden to stick anything in the ear canal as this can lead to serious problems. If you notice that the dirt does not go away, or it is too deep, you can go to the veterinarian and ask for future guidance.
  • In case the ear canal is filled with hair, you may need to groom it a bit. To be more exact, you can tweeze it out on a regular basis (every few weeks) so it does not get tangled. If you are not sure whether it is a good idea to trim the hair, you can ask the veterinarian for specialized advice.

Signs of infection

It is important to be able to spot signs that can indicate a possible infection in order to treat it from an early stage. If you detect such sings it’s important to have the right product to treat it before it makes any damage. Click here to can see a nice, easy-to-apply, natural product which can be of great help for both you and Fido.

You also need to be careful when you wash your dog to prevent water from entering the ear. The best solution in this situation is to use cotton before bath time.

Dog heaalth checklist

This is a great alternative even when you take your pet for a swim as it can prevent all sorts of diseases. However, you also need to be able to spot any danger signs. There are certain symptoms, as you can see below, that can point out an ear infection. In this case, it is advisable to contact the veterinarian immediately. Here is what you need to look for:

  • discharges from the ear;
  • unpleasant smell;
  • the interior of the ear turns red;
  • swelling and bumps;
  • the skin becomes crusty;
  • the hair from the ear starts to fall;
  • the ear wax becomes dark and it is similar to coffee grounds.

Getting ready for ear cleaning

Most dogs do not like to have their ears cleaned. As a result, they tend to move a lot and want to play. However, this is a healthy routine, thus you need to get your dog accustomed to it. Though it may take a while until your pet will fully accepts the ear grooming process, it will be easier if you start it from an early age.

How to clean a dogs ears

On the other hand, it does not mean that you can give up if your dog is already an adult that would do anything to escape cleaning. In order to get it ready, consider the following tips:

  • make this activity look positive;
  • have the right tools with you;
  • put everything you wish to use within reach;
  • follow the ear grooming rules.

If this is the first time you plan to clean your dog’s ears, make sure that you allow it to get accustomed to the procedure. Do not force it to do something it does not want to because this will turn it into a squirmy pooch. It is a good idea to turn this activity into a fun one, but at the same time to teach it to stay still.

The easiest way to do it is to give Fido treats every time it cooperates and listens to your commands. You should check out these treats as they are pretty special, and if you get Fido to associate them with ear cleaning, you’ll have an easier time. Additional rewarding should include kisses and belly rubs. As ear cleaning tends to be a complex procedure, it is important to have the right tools with you.

To be more exact, the kit should include cotton balls, gloves (if you decide to clean them by hand), and homemade ear products. However, if this is the first time for you as well, you might want to play it safe and use commercial products — they are delivered in an easy-to-use package which makes everything easier to handle.

Dog ear cleaning at home

It is important to understand that once you start cleaning your dog’s ears, there is no way to stop, otherwise it will become agitated and not very cooperative. As a result, make sure that you have everything you need close to you.

However, make sure that the products are at a decent length away from the dog, otherwise it may start chewing them to relieve the stress. Also remember to take a step at a time, and to clean the ear in the correct order. If you are not precisely sure how it’s done, check out these rules:

  1. Clean the outside, and only when you are done you can work your way in.
  2. Do not try to push the cotton ball more than it goes and stop when you feel resistance.
  3. Wet a cotton ball and start cleaning the part of the ear that you can see.
  4. Wet a different cotton ball and start cleaning the inner ear.
  5. Repeat the procedure at least once a week.

3 Useful recipes

Vinegar + boric acid + alcohol

Vinegar 2 ounces
Boric acid 1/2 teaspoon
Alcohol Few drops

This recipe is very easy to prepare and helps you clean your dog’s ears fast. All you need to do is to mix the vinegar with the boric acid and add the rubbing alcohol after. If you wish to make it even more sterile, you can add some extra drops of povidone-iodine.

It is important to shake them firmly to mix them together. However, it is mandatory to remember that povidone-iodine has an intense smell and can leave strains, so if your dog’s fur is white you can omit it.

Vinegar + boric acid + alcohol

This recipe is perfect to use after you take the dog for a swim in a river or sea. After you are done grooming the ear, you need to wipe it with a clean cotton ball or washcloth.

Vinegar + water

Vinegar 1/3 cup
Water 2/3 cup

If you fear that alcohol can be too harsh on your dog’s ears, you can try a milder variant that implies vinegar and water. This mixture is also appropriate for dogs with dry skin. It is easy to prepare, and it has great cleaning properties. It is recommended to opt for apple cider vinegar, but any variant works.

Vinegar + water

The water should be lukewarm, so this is a recipe that needs to be mixed every time you clean your dog’s ears. It is advisable to soak a cotton ball and to wipe gently the visible parts of the dog’s ear. Do not push the cotton ball too much as it can cause damages. For breads with large years, a soft cloth can be used instead of a cotton ball as you can cover a larger surface easier.

Almond / olive / mineral oil

Almond / olive / mineral oil Few drops

This is a homemade recipe that requires a single ingredient, and it is perfect for wax buildup. Some dogs tend to develop more wax than others, and it can lead to buildups that can affect your pet’s hearing. In this case, it is a good idea to add a couple of drops of almond, olive or mineral oils as it can loosen the wax and help you remove it with ease.

Olive, mineral oil coconut and almond oil

You need to apply the oil on the visible part of the ear and allow the dog to shake its head in order to spread it. You need to wait for a couple of minutes then you can clean the oil and wax with a clean cotton ball or cloth.

Recipes for irritated ears

Allergies can cause scratching, and this leads to mild ear irritations. In this case, you need to assure proper care. A great idea of a homemade recipe includes the following three ingredients: white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol.

It is recommended to mix only as much as you need for one cleaning session, and prepare more when you see other signs of irritations. In this case, you need to add half hydrogen peroxide, half white vinegar and just one drop of alcohol. If you see that the irritation persists you can ask your veterinarian for a medicated flush that has antibiotic properties and add it when you are done cleaning the ear.

Aloe Vera gel

Another great way to calm ear irritations is Aloe Vera gel. All that you need to do is to warm the gel in hot water until it becomes liquid. You can add a tablespoon of this ingredient in each ear, and the effects are immediate. Just like in the case of almond oil, you need to leave it for a couple of minutes before you wipe it with a cloth.

Besides soothing red ears, Aloe Vera also has cleaning properties and can eliminate wax. According to how serious is the problem, you will need to repeat this procedure several times. However, if you see that the dog does not start to feel better you need to go to the veterinarian immediately.

Now, if after you went through these recipes, you’re still not sure if Fido would like it, it’s best to discuss it with your vet. Also, if you’re interested in purchasing ready-to-use products, here is a great selection for you.

Things to avoid

It is mandatory to be gentle when you clean your dog’s ears. This means that intense scrubbing or pushing the cotton ball too deep is strictly forbidden. If you believe that you are not patient enough to get your pet accustomed to this procedure it is advisable to allow a specialist to do it. Here are other things that you need to avoid when you groom the sensitive ears:

  • you must not allow water to get inside the canal as this can lead to the formation of fungus and bacteria that can lead to infections;
  • avoid using a syringe to introduce the homemade cleaning product as you risk pushing the liquid too far and harm your pet;
  • by no means should you go deeper than half an inch inside the ear canal as this is very dangerous.

In conclusion

As it can be seen, it is not that difficult to keep your dog’s ears clean. You simply need to accustom it to this procedure, and everything will be fine. Remember to follow the cleaning rules and never push the cotton ball too deep. Though there are various products on the market that can help you eliminate dirt or wax it is better to opt for homemade ones.

Dog ear clean

They are gentle to the sensitive skin and do not cause allergies. Furthermore, you only need two or three ingredients to prepare the mixture. It is mandatory to keep your dog safe from infections, and it will live a long and happy life.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • Luzz

    Good article but Peroxide is not recommended, it can do more harm than good. DO NOT use soaps, shampoos, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, herbal preparations, tea tree oil, or any other product to clean an open wound…

    I almost killed my pup not knowing this, my vet caught her in time and was able to save her, all she had was some scratches on her head by her ears, so the average person may easily overdo it unintentionally. Just sharing.

    • Thank you Luzz, we’ll keep that in mind. Please feel free to share any of your pup-related experiences with other dog owners who read our site. This way we can all learn from each other!

    • Scott

      Tea tree oil is poisonous to dogs and can kill them! Never use this on a dog.

  • dougkon

    Great info. and site — THX! I’d been using 1/3 Rubbing alcohol, 1/3 white vinegar and 1/3 water — sounds like this potion of yours could be more appropo: 2oz Vin., 1/2 tsp Boric Acid powder, few drops of 70% Rubbing Alc. One reason I googled potions was to see how often once can administer it per day. Suggestions? Minimum of 6hrs?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Minimum of six hours is okay, although I’d recommend a standard frequency of every twelve hours. This will allow the solution to sit thoroughly without causing irritation.

  • Paul

    I really like the PPP Pet Aroma Care 100 Count Ear Wipes but I’m not sure how big it is, as some have complained about the smallness. Is there any way to know the estimate size?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      This ear wipes is standard in size, and I think the ones complaining own a large dog breed. If your dog is a small to medium-sized one, this should work fine.

  • Benjamin

    My dog has extremely sensitive ears and he wails loudly to let you know! Do you think that a gentle formula of ear drops might help?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Oftentimes, it is not the solution itself that the dog is sensitive about, it is the sensation of the solution or item that is touches the inner ear that makes them really uncomfortable. However, you can try the vet-approved ear drops that have milder ingredients.

  • Arden

    Can you use Balsamic Vinegar and water

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Balsamic Vinegar is okay, although I would recommend Apple Cider more due to its clarity and consistency.

  • Salatiela Alfredo

    My dog is a 9 month old poodle and he’s a boy and his ears are dirty I’m just going to clean his ears now I would just like to now if I just have to clean the outside or do I also have to clean on the inside as well plz I would like to now
    And I would like to now what type of homemade shampoo can I use to wash him because he smells and I want home to smell nice, and I did some looking I found the one where you mix water vinegar and dish soap I would like to know if I make it how long will it last in the fridge or somewhere else.
    Plz reply I would really appreciate it

    • Wyatt Robinson

      The vinegar and dish soap can be prepared fresh every time you wash your dog. It would be better to prepare fresh mixture because storing it can lead to chemical reaction between the soap and the vinegar, especially for prolonged storage periods.

  • Cynthia Fisher

    Has anyone used the Aloe Vera? I have a Chihuahua with sensitive ears and am considering getting some.

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Aloe Vera is good, just make sure to use just an ample amount without heavily soaking the lobes. If irritation occurs, discontinue immediately.

  • Valerie

    Can I use gentian violet on my dogs ears?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Yes you can, with a preliminary dose of one application per day every other day.

  • anne garrett

    Close to the beginning of this article you list Ear Infections and refer to the product for multi-symptons, natural dog ear infection formula which has denatured grain alcohol as first ingredient which indicates to me that there is a lot of alcohol. Any ear remedy with alcohol will surely be painful to the dog’s ear and with any symptoms from any level of ear infection, they will be irritating to the dog. Therefore, the dog can very likely have skin that is inflamed and/or broken or open sores and very little if ANY alcohol will cause pain, burning. If I were wanting a sure, quick and safe remedy for my dog, I just might see this product’s «sure sounding solution» and order it without seeing the precautions of alcohol on any inflamed, broken skin in the ear from the rest of the article and important precautions from your other article, «Best Dog Ear Cleaner: Keeping…». I’m sure this is characteristic of browsers as trying to determine a solution for a problem has become time consuming on the net to ensure correct solution. I have a lab that won’t let me or vet near his ears or nails and I have to put drops of ear medicine in his ear from my finger, (won’t let any object near his ear). I have to go slow in trying cleaners for his ears and if the solution is painful that will surely make him start at square one in trying to get him to concede to cleanings that are Majorly Important due to chronic infections. Thank you for the very helpful article.

    • Wyatt Robinson

      We do understand the importance of limiting the alcohol content of ear cleaners because excessive amounts and use can irritate the inner lining of the ear cavity. This is why we really limited the measurement of alcohol to only a few drops just to amplify the antiseptic components of vinegar and other accompanying ingredients. It also allows quicker drying and settling inside the ear cavity.

  • Maria

    There are two different types of ear wax: wet and dry ear wax. Wet ear wax is also known as dominant ear wax, and dry as recessive ear wax. The different types are very aligned with your cultural heritage. Native Americans and Asians are more likely to have dry ear wax. Those of African or European descent are more likely to have wet ear wax. There is even a specific gene, which helps to identify whether an individual’s ear wax will be wet ear wax or dry ear wax. Also, ear wax has played an important role for scientists and anthropologists, to track migratory patterns of our ancestors. Normally, earwax will dry up easily and then fall out of our ear. When it does that, the dust or debris falls out as well, rendering it a non-issue. If you find issue with ear wax, is probably genetically related. This is because if your ear canal is smaller or it is shaped in a unique way, then it’s slightly harder for ear wax to naturally exit your ear canal. Usually, fish oil helps with ear wax ( according to , but there are other methods that can be used to help with the earwax production. But the most important thing is not to use sharp objects or q-tips, because it will just push the earwax further into your ear and potentially cause more damage.