Getting water in the ear is rather common, and affects anyone regardless of their age. The most obvious cause of this, as you may have thought, is coming into contact with water as is the case when swimming or showering. Ideally, the wax present in the ears should prevent the water from seeping inside the ears, but this does not always happen so that water sometimes gets into the ear.

The result is a tingling sensation that causes great discomfort. Depending on the volume of water present and the period of time during which one is exposed to water, this sensation may be accompanied by pain and inflammation of the ears. In a number of cases, hearing is also slightly impaired.

doctor checking woman ear

If this condition is left unaddressed, it is easy for it to lead to an ear infection alongside other complications. As such, it is extremely important that the water is eliminated. The challenge, for the most part, is in distinguishing between water trapped in the ear and fluid that accumulates in the inner ear. The latter requires immediate medical attention as it presents a sensitive case of ear malfunction if left untreated. Consequently, the remedies below provide treatment options for getting rid of water found in the outer ear. These are simple solutions that you can use from home, but if the condition does not improve after about a week, it is imperative that you see an ear specialist.

1. Make Use of Gravity:

Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: A comfortable place.
Difficulty: Easy


One of the simplest ways to get rid of water in the outer ear is to let gravity work its magic. For a number of people affected by this condition, this remedy is almost instinctual. Tilting your head sideways so that the ear faces down should allow the water to drain. A point of caution, however, is to avoid inserting Q-tips into the ear as this often works to push the water further inside, thus making it hard to eliminate. This only prolongs the discomfort and must be avoided.


  1. Tilt your head to make sure that the ears face downwards. This places the ground parallel to the ears and eases the remedy procedure in subsequent steps.
  2. Cover the affected ear with your hand, pressing in the palm region. The purpose of doing this is to create a vacuum of sorts, so that when removed, it sucks the water out.
  3. Remove your palm to allow the water to drain.
  4. Repeat this severally to get relief from water in the ear.


2. Use a Blow Dryer:

Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: A blow dryer.
Difficulty: Easy


The essence of using a blow dryer to treat swimmer’s ear lies in the logic that the heat produced by the blow dryer allows for the conversion of water to steam. This in turn allows the steam to be eliminated from the outer ear with ease, giving you relief from the tickling sensation that accompanies this ear condition.

A point of caution is advised for anyone who chooses this method: the blow dryer must be set to ‘warm’ and ‘low mode’ to avoid hitting your ears with the sudden blast of heat. Secondly, the remedy must not be used for more than a minute at a time to avoid the risk of acute ear damage. Follow the directions below to effectively get rid of water trapped in the ear.


  1. Hold your ear lobe and tug gently so that it is pulled away from the body to enhance the efficiency of this remedy.
  2. Plug the blow dryer and place it about 30 cm from your ear – this is approximately the length of school ruler.
  3. Turn the blow dryer on to ‘warm’ and ‘low mode’ settings, making sure that the flow of air is channeled towards the outer ear.
  4. Hold the dryer for about a minute and then turn off.
  5. Rest for a couple of minutes before repeating the procedure one more time.
  6. You may use this in intervals, say after a couple of hours until you get relief.


3. Hot Water Compress:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A clean washcloth, a bowl of hot water and a comfortable place to use this remedy.
Difficulty: Easy


Using a hot water compress follows the basic concept of using a blow dryer as indicated above. This is where the heat allows a part of the ear, medically known as the Eustachian tube, to open up effectively releasing the trapped water. The heat also has the benefit of reducing the pain and overall discomfort until you get relief from the accompanying symptoms. It helps to lie in a comfortable place to aid the draining of water from the outer ear.


  1. Soak the washcloth in the bowl of water and proceed to squeeze the excess water.
  2. Tilt your head and place the hot water compress on the ear for 1 minute.
  3. Rest for another couple of minutes and repeat step 2.
  4. Do this about five times for each given session.
  5. Wind up the remedy by lying on your side to aid fluid draining.


4. Steam Therapy:

Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: Boiling water in a bowl and clean towel.
Difficulty: Moderate


Steam therapy is one of the most effective home remedies for the natural treatment of water in the ear. This remedy works because it eases the accumulation of fluid in the ear by allowing its drainage withe ease. By opening up the Eustachian tube, the steam also provides much-needed relief from the discomfort. You must be careful, however, to ensure that you do not scald yourself with the boiling water. For this reason, this remedy is not recommended for young children and must be used carefully.


  1. Place the towel on your head and lean over the bowl of steaming water. This is important because it helps contain the steam and therefore improves its efficiency.
  2. Inhale the steam as deeply as you can for some 10 minutes.
  3. Tilt your head sideways in the direction of the affected ear. The water trapped in the ears will start to drain, thus treating the condition and eliminating the tickling sensation.


5. Yawning or Chewing Motions:

Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: Simply mimic these mentions.
Difficulty: Easy


Sometimes all you need to get rid of water in the ear is to chew or yawn. The logic behind this is that the two motions open up the Eustachian tube and allow for the water to drain. The best thing about this remedy is that it is pretty easy, and one that you can use on the go.


  1. Simply mimic the yawning and/or chewing motions to get rid of water in the ear.
  2. If you have some chewing gum, do make use of it. You may feel a ‘pop’ sound, which simply is the opening of the Eustachian tube. Some people feel as though the water moved in the ears, which is simply the treatment in motion as the water drains.


6. Salt:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 3 Tablespoons of salt, a clean towel and a microwave.
Difficulty: Easy


Salt is a versatile remedy, which is why it is not surprising that it is effective in the elimination of water from the ear. The mode of action for his remedy simply revolves around the fact that when placed near the ear, the high concentration of salt creates an osmotic pull that draws the water out of the ear. This absorption is efficient in helping get rid of the discomfort. In addition to this, the heat produced reduces the pain and inflammation within the ear.


  1. Place the salt in a cup and microwave it for a minute.
  2. Transfer the heated salt to the clean towel and tie well. This creates a pack of sorts that you can place on the ear with ease.
  3. Place the salt pack at the opening of the affected ear and leave on for 5 minutes.
  4. Use this remedy twice daily for best results.


7. Pop Your Ears Using the Ancient Valsalva Maneuver:

Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: A comfortable place to use the remedy.
Difficulty: Easy


The Valsalva technique refers to the use of a technique that ensures the ears pop and open up the Eustachian tube. This in turn, allows for the water to drain, thus providing you with much needed relief. When done as indicated in the directions below, you should hear a popping sound that confirms the tubes are open. You can perform this remedy in intervals of one hour, or for as long as is needed.


  1. Close your mouth and then use your fingers to gently pinch your nostrils.
  2. Inhale deeply and hold for a few seconds.
  3. Carefully exhale through the nose. This action of blowing causes the characteristic ‘pop’ sound that confirms the opening of the Eustachian tube.
  4. Note that you must do this carefully as blowing the air hard can cause trauma to the ear drum, something which will only worsen the discomfort of water in the ear. It may take several tries before you can effectively use this remedy.


8. Garlic + Olive Oil Mixture:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 2 Garlic cloves, 5 drops of olive oil, a strainer and a dropper.
Difficulty: Easy


Garlic and olive oil mixture makes for a great remedy in the treatment of water in the ear. The reason for adding garlic to the remedy is that it is rich in antibacterial properties which help prevent ear infections. When water remains too long in the external ear, it causes it to be predisposed to the development of ear infections. By using garlic, you are able to stop that progress. Olive oil on the other hand, soothes the ear so that there’s less discomfort. If you cannot get garlic, you can always use the olive oil on its own.


  1. Peel the garlic cloves and proceed to chop into small pieces.
  2. Add the olive oil and mix well.
  3. Warm the mixture in order to get the benefits from the garlic.
  4. Pass the garlic + olive oil mixture through a strainer and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  5. Using a dropper, place the remedy into the affected ear with your head tilted.
  6. You will then tilt your head sideways to drain the water and remedy.
  7. Use twice daily until the symptoms clear.


Despite the irritation and discomfort caused by water in the ear, you need to be careful to observe the following measures:

i) Do not put anything inside your ear as this predisposes your ear to infections.
ii) Always make sure you dry your ears after showering or swimming.
iii) Steer clear of headphones until the condition has cleared.
iv) If you swim on a regular basis, you may consider investing in quality swimming plugs available commercially.
v) Lastly, book a doctor’s appointment if you the symptoms progress to loss of hearing, intense swelling and/or the formation of pus.