Goodbye Cotton Buds, It Has Been A Great Relationship.

Posted on July 26, 2012


This is a tub of humble, everyday cotton buds that sit in a nondescript see through plastic container.

It resides in my bath drawer, which also houses my hair wax, aftershave and every essential manly bathroom gimmick.

It’s also the same tub I’ve been refilling my cotton buds into and the same tub I’ve been cleaning my ear with for as many years as I can possibly remember.

I’d say going back as far as six or seven years I’d clean my ears diligently, sometimes digging and cleaning deeper than I really ought to.

There’s something really therapeutic and calming about inserting a soft, foreign object into your ear canal.

Every nerve and sense in your body just screams ‘No!’ but I absolutely hate leaving the shower with wet ear canals.

Sometimes I would grab a couple and just sit in front of the television while I methodically work the canal with robot-like efficiency.


I remember growing up getting my ear cleaned by my mother. While the Chinese art of ear cleaning still lives to some degree in mainland China, emigrants and indeed children of the emigrants (like my father and mother) would bring their preferred Chinese ‘Q-tip’.

It’s really just a glorified metal scoop that’s tiny enough to reach into the ear canal but I still use it every so often.

I’ve never thought cleaning my ear daily would be offensive, but try telling that to the poor canals.

About a month ago I started feeling something in my right ear. It almost felt like a piece of wax was in my ear and I couldn’t shake it off.

I just shrugged it off, thinking it would go away. Besides, the hustle and bustle of daily life meant I had bigger fish to cook.

Blocked ear? Pfft!

A week ago today, I went to work with the worst headache. In just two hours I was hardly able to speak, clench my jaw or even touch my right ear as it was so sore. It was so sore, my head was spinning.

Thankfully I was able to leave work early and got my ear checked out.

It was an ear infection. The kind where daily cotton bud usage would result in.

A quick Google search on ‘cotton bud ear infection’ provides ample information on how an innocuous activity could lead to something more devilish.

Before I left the clinic, the doctor told me specifically not to use any cotton buds.

Armed with a phalanx of antibiotics and ear drops, the throbbing pain has disappeared and I’m finally able to chew with full strength.

I have not used any cotton buds in the last seven days and along the way a small part of my bath experience died.

It feels really strange walking out of the shower with water in my ear, and I’m now resorting to blowing a gentle stream of hot air from the hair dryer (set to low heat of course).

Goodbye cotton buds, I will miss you sorely.