Is it dangerous to put alcohol in your ear to disinfect it?

People often don’t realize that they can permanently damage their ability to hear from simple activities like using cotton swabs to get rid of ear wax. Never stick an object of any kind into your ear or use pressurized water to clean the ear canal. Instead, consider using isopropyl alcohol as a safe alternative to keep your ears healthy, clean and dry.

Preventing Swimmer’s Ear

After swimming, water can pool in the ear canal and lead to an infection. To prevent this painful occurrence, make sure to dry ears well after swimming with a soft towel, and shake your head to dislodge stuck water. Apply two to three drops of isopropyl alcohol into the canal of each ear to dry any additional moisture and prevent bacterial build-up.


Moisture pooling around newly pierced ears, belly buttons, nostrils and other areas sets up the perfect environment for an infection, especially in children and teens. You can prevent a lot of pain and suffering by applying the germ-killing, moisture-reducing power of isopropyl alcohol to each piercing in the morning and evening.


If you have or suspect an active ear infection, it is best not to apply isopropyl alcohol to the ear canal due to the increased likelihood of burning already inflamed tissue. Instead, pay special attention to the schedule of medications prescribed by your doctor or naturopathic physician to heal the infection.

Expert Insight

Naturopathic physicians Robert and Dana Ullman recommend using isopropyl alcohol drops in the ears after bathing, swimming or showering. After thoroughly drying the ears in this manner, they encourage the use of garlic infused olive oil drops to prevent itching and over-dryness.


If you apply isopropyl alcohol to the ear canal and experience burning or pain, you may have a prior infection or a ruptured ear drum. Isopropyl alcohol should not burn the ear canal unless there is something wrong. Go to your doctor immediately to assess the problem properly.

Dog Care

Dogs with floppy ears may be more prone to ear infections. You can reduce the likelihood of ear infection and ear odor development with isopropyl alcohol drops. After bathing your dog, exposing him to wet weather or allowing him to swim, dry the ear well with a towel and place 3 to 4 drops isopropyl alcohol in each ear, rubbing the ear to encourage adequate coverage. Most dogs enjoy ear rubbing very much, so this should be a pleasant experience in maintenance care for your pup.