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For some dogs, one of the most important parts of grooming is cleaning their ears. It reduces the chance of ear infections and removes excess wax buildup. You can use over-the-counter ear cleaners, or save the money and make a homemade dog ear cleaner.

Homemade DIY dog ear cleaning solutions are cheap and easy to make from ingredients that you already have on hand. They're also going to be more natural and safe for dogs. Below are some of my favorite homemade dog ear cleaner recipes you can try.

Note: All the below ear cleaners for dogs are for general cleaning of healthy ears. If your pet already has an ear infection, do not attempt to use these cleaners and consult with a veterinarian instead. The vet is likely to recommend an ear infection treatment.

1. Most Popular Combination

This basic homemade dog ear cleaner will help stabilize the pH levels of your dog’s ears while also cleaning them. It may potentially fight off some bacteria which reduces the chance of ear infections.

Ingredients:

  • Empty bottle
  • White vinegar (we like natural brands, like Lucy's)
  • Boric acid
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • Povidone iodine (Betadine is most popular)

Directions:

  1. Pour 4 tablespoons of white vinegar into a resealable bottle
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of boric acid
  3. Add 3-4 drops of Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  4. Add 3-4 drops of povidone iodine
  5. Seal the bottle and shake well until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed

Note: Providone iodine is just a generic name for the popular brand, Betadine, that most pet owners will use. It has antiseptic properties that attack bacteria in a dog’s ears and it doesn't sting. However, you don't have to add it to this homemade dog ear cleaner if you are concerned about red staining. The solution will work well without it.

2. Soft and Supple Solution

For a very simple homemade dog ear cleaner that will leave your pup's ears soft, supple and protected, you can use a glycerin mixture.

Ingredients:

  • Small container
  • Glycerin (use a natural brand like Noble Roots)
  • Boric acid

Directions:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of glycerin with 2 tablespoons of boric acid.

This is a simple mixture that you can apply using cotton balls. The boric acid breaks up waxy build-up while reducing moisture and the possibility of an ear infection in the dog. The glycerin then coats and soothes the dog’s skin to keep it from getting too dry.

3. Witchy Combination

Here is another variation of ear cleaner similar to the two above, made from vinegar and boric acid to clean the dog’s ears and help maintain a healthy pH. The witch hazel in here will help to soothe the dog’s ears.

Ingredients:

  • White vinegar or apple cider vinegar (Bragg is a cheap organic brand)
  • Witch hazel
  • Boric acid

Directions:

  1. Pour 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup vinegar into a container
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of witch hazel
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of boric acid
  4. Shake well

Note: As an alternative to this, you can simply mix 2 tablespoons of boric acid in 1/2 cup of water, and use that if you are in a fix and do not have the other ingredients on hand.

4. Mild But Effective

A very mild homemade dog ear cleaner can be made with just vinegar and water, or alternatively, with apple cider vinegar and water along with some Isopropyl rubbing alcohol.

Ingredients:

  • Empty bottle
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol

Directions:

  1. Pour 4 tablespoons of plain water into a resealable bottle.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  3. Add 3-4 drops of Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  4. Seal the bottle and shake well

Note: If rubbing alcohol stings, then for an even milder solution, leave out the Isopropyl rubbing alcohol altogether. The vinegar and water will still help clean a dog’s ears and stabilize the pH levels.

5. Ultra Mild and Ultra Simple

Apple cider vinegar in itself is a powerful cleaner, and can be used as a mild solution of homemade ear cleaner for dogs. This is a good solution to use on floppy-eared dogs like Bassett Hounds that need to have their ears cleaned often.

Ingredients:

  • Apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Mix together 2/3 cup of water and 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar

6. Easiest to Make

Hydrogen peroxide is also a useful tool against waxy build-up in a dog's ears. When the hydrogen peroxide starts working, it bubbles the dirt right up out of the dog's ear canal. It can tickle a dog's ear though, so be prepared for a lot of head shaking.

Ingredients:

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide (Dealmed is a good cheap brand we use)

Directions:

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of the hydrogen peroxide

Note: Hydrogen peroxide can also be combined with a few of the above mentioned homemade dog ear cleaners. For example, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide, and a few drops of Isopropyl rubbing alcohol. This solution is good for flushing dirt out of a dog’s ears and cleaning the more visible parts.

How to Use a Homemade Dog Ear Cleaner

Not all dogs require regular ear cleaning. Those with floppy ears like Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds need to have their ears cleaned about once a week, while Pit Bulls or German Shepherds with ears that naturally stay dryer can go longer between ear cleanings.

Warm the homemade dog ear cleaner to at least room temperature before using it. This is especially important when using oils.

Never use cotton swabs or q-tips in your dog’s ears. Instead, use cotton balls or a regular gauze wrapped around your finger to clean your pet's ears with a homemade dog ear cleaning solution.

Simply dip the cotton ball or your gauzed-finger into the solution, or squirt it on, and then gently wipe your dog’s ears clean. Here's a guide on how to do this.

How to Clean Dog Ears

To flush out dirt and waxy build-up in a dog’s ear, use a bulb syringe or a bottle with a squirting tip similar to those used to apply hair dye.

Gently squeeze the solution into the dog’s ears, lightly massage the base of the ear, let the dog shake the head to bring out the dirt and wax naturally, then wipe the remaining residue off with gauze or cotton balls.

How To Clean Dog Ears

When possible, do ear flushes outdoors and let your pooch shake the head as much as needed. That way, you will not have to take time to wipe down the walls.

Note: If using oils, set the container of oil in a cup or bowl of hot water to warm it up. Test the temperature of the oil or homemade dog ear cleaner on the inside of your wrist before using it to make sure it is not too hot. It should feel barely warm on your wrist.

READ NEXT: How To Make Homemade Cleaners That Are Safe for Dogs

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Top 6 Recipes of Homemade Dog Ear Cleaners

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