Cleaning Cat's Ear

The Best Cat Ear Cleaners (2022 Reviews)

Our veterinarians research and recommend the best products. Learn more about our process. We may receive a commission on purchases made from our links.

Cats tend to be pretty good at cleaning themselves but they’re not always very effective at cleaning the inside of their ears, which makes cat ear cleaners very helpful. These cleaning solutions help you clean out all the nooks and crannies inside the ear that even the most fastidious of cats will find it difficult or impossible to clean. This is important because having clean ears helps prevent health problems like ear infections, ear mites, and excessive earwax buildup. (If you also have a puppy at home you may want to check out our guide to find the best dog ear cleaner).

Our vet advisor, Dr. Danielle Morosco, picked out five recommendations for the best cat ear cleaners to make it easy for you to keep your kitty’s ears clean. Dr. Morosco’s top pick is Cucumber Melon Otic, which stands out not only because it’s gentle and has a pleasant smell, but is also highly effective at cleaning and even dries and balances the pH of cat ears. Read how she chose the top 5.

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Cucumber Melon Otic

For the best overall cat ear cleaner, you’ve got to go with Cucumber Melon Otic.

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Our Vet’s Top 5 Cat Ear Cleaners

Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different cleaners.

Editor’s Picks Model Rating Contains Drying Agents No Strong, Unpleasant Odor Size
Best Overall Cucumber Melon Otic N/A 8 oz.
Best Budget Buy Nutri Vet Cleansing Liquid Cats 4.5 4 oz.
Best Cat Ear Wipes Oticbliss Ear Wipes 4.5 100 wipes
Best Cat Ear Cleaner with Hydrocortisone Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment 4.9 4 oz.
Best Cat Ear Cleaner for Yeast Infections TrizULTRA + Keto Flush 4.8 12 oz.

*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers

Who Should Buy a Cat Ear Cleaner

  • Owners of cats with certain health conditions – Some health conditions, like diabetes, allergies, feline leukemia, and other autoimmune issues, can make cats especially at risk for ear problems, such as infection. Regular cleaning can help prevent these problems.
  • Owners of outdoor cats – Just by virtue of being outside, outdoor cats tend to get dirtier than indoor cats. That includes inside their ears and cleaning inside the ear can be harder for cats. You may want to help your outdoor cat out by cleaning their ears for them.
  • Owners of certain breeds – Some breeds, like Himalayans and Persians, are at particular risk for ear infections and other ear problems because they have small outer ears. If you have one of these cats, it’s important to clean their ears to help keep their ears nice and healthy.

Who Should Not Buy a Cat Ear Cleaner

  • Owners who have their cat’s ears cleaned professionally – If you have your groomer or vet’s office clean your cat’s ears as necessary, you generally don’t need to worry about cleaning Kitty’s ears at home.
  • Owners of cats who are already showing ear irritation – If your cat is already suffering from irritation or illness in their ears, an ear cleaner is not the solution. Take your cat to the vet as soon as possible and follow the doctor’s recommendations.
  • Owners of cats who already do a good job of cleaning their ears – Though ears can be tricky to clean, many cats do manage well enough on their own. If your vet hasn’t advised you to clean your cat’s ears and there are no signs of excessive buildup, you may not need to worry about cleaning your cat’s ears at all. If you’re not sure, just ask your vet!

Research Tips (from a Veterinarian)

If you suspect your cat has an active ear infection, contact your veterinarian to have your cat’s ears checked so the proper medication can be prescribed. Many products can be dangerous if used incorrectly or if the eardrum is ruptured. Furthermore, not all debris you see in your cat’s ears is just wax. If you’re seeing a large amount of redness or discharge (brown, black, yellow, white, or bloody) in your cat’s ears, it may be a sign of an ear infection. It’s best to get your cat checked out first by a veterinarian before using any over-the-counter products.

  1. Be careful with ingredients – If your pet has any known allergies, make sure those ingredients are not in the ear cleaner you are using. Stay away from ear cleaners with harsh chemicals or essential oils as some of these may be toxic to your cat.
  2. Make sure it’s safe for cats – Some ear cleaners are only intended to be used for dogs or livestock. Be sure that the one you choose is safe for use on cats.
  3. Use safely – Always pour the cleanser on a cotton ball and gently wipe your cat’s ear canal. Never pour the cleanser directly into your cat’s ears as this may cause damage to the eardrum. Always follow the instructions included with the ear cleaner or given to you by your veterinarian.
  4. Only get ear cleaners from a reputable source – Always buy cleaners either from your vet, or a trustworthy website. Make sure the manufacturer is reliable and trustworthy and beware of knockoffs that imitate quality products.

How Much Do They Cost?

Between $5 and $25

Cat ear cleaners tend to be very affordable, only costing between $5 and $25 for a high-quality ear cleaner. Price is primarily determined by the size of the container and the ingredients the ear cleaner contains. A small container of basic antiseptic rinse will be closer to the $5 end of the range, while a larger container of ear cleaner that also balances pH and contains soothing ingredients and drying agents will cost more.

Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet News Daily

As a veterinarian, I frequently discuss ear health and ear cleaning with cat owners. The products I’ve recommended here are based on both my knowledge and experience as a veterinarian and the experiences that my patients have shared with me. Each product here is a high-quality ear cleaner from a reputable manufacturer. These ear cleaners are commonly recommended by both myself and other veterinarians, and both vets and pet owners report success with these products. – Dr. Danielle Morosco, DVM

The Best Cat Ear Cleaners: Full Reviews

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Cucumber Melon Otic

For the best overall cat ear cleaner, you’ve got to go with Cucumber Melon Otic.

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Our overall top recommendation is Cucumber Melon Otic. Not only is it effective at preventing ear infections, it’s also gentle enough for frequent cleaning and even has a great cucumber melon scent thanks to the manufacturer’s exclusive deodorizer. Cucumber Melon Otic cleans, dries, and acidifies the ear canal, while also removing wax, dead skin cells, and other build-up and debris. It’s also water-based and contains soothing aloe.

It comes in two sizes, 8 ounces and 1 gallon. Both sizes are affordably priced.

pros
  • Gentle and soothing
  • Helps prevent ear infections
  • Cleans, dries, and acidifies the ear canal
  • Pleasant, non-medical scent
Cons
  • Some users may find the scent too strong
Best Budget

Nutri Vet Cleansing Liquid Cats

Nutri Vet Cleansing Liquid Cats will clean out your cat’s ears without cleaning out your wallet.

Nutri Vet Cleansing Liquid Cats was made by veterinarians, so you know that it’s a safe, effective formula, despite the highly affordable price point. It cleanses the ear canal and removes dirt, allergens, ear wax buildup, dead skin cells, and other debris from the ear. At the same time, it soothes itching and irritation, while salicylic acid promotes new, healthy cell growth. Finally, the formula inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungus.

The formula is gentle enough for everyday use (though you shouldn’t need to use it that frequently). It’s made in the US with high-quality ingredients from trustworthy sources all around the world. The bottle contains 4 ounces of ear cleaning solution.

pros
  • Made by veterinarians
  • Gentle formula cleanses, removes buildup, and soothes
  • Promotes new cell growth
  • Inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungus
Cons
  • Bottle is on the smaller side
  • May require a few applications for dirtier ears
Best Cat Ear Wipes

Oticbliss Ear Wipes

Oticbliss Ear Wipes are a simple, easy-to-use solution for dirty cat ears.

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Cat ear cleaning wipes, like Oticbliss Ear Wipes, are a super easy-to-use alternative to a more traditional cat ear cleaning solution. All you have to do is wipe the inside of your cat’s ears rather than squeezing liquid into them. Your cat will likely find it much more comfortable to have you quickly wipe their ears as well, especially if they don’t like for you to mess with their ears. They’re also very safe since there’s less risk of injury to the eardrum compared to using the nozzle tip of a bottle of liquid cleaning solution.

The formula is still effective too, though not as effective as a liquid solution. Salicylic acid dries the ear canal and promotes new cell growth while chloroxylenol deodorizes and docusate sodium softens ear wax. Meanwhile, aloe vera soothes irritated ears and vitamin E nourishes the skin.

pros
  • Cleans, dries, deodorizes, soothes, and nourishes
  • Easy-to-use wipes
  • Can be less stressful for cats
  • Safe
Cons
  • Not as effective as a liquid ear cleaning solution
  • Strong scent
Best Cat Ear Cleaner with Hydrocortisone

Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment

Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment has the healing, soothing power of hydrocortisone.

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Unlike most cat ear cleaners, Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment features hydrocortisone. As you may know from using hydrocortisone yourself, this ingredient is excellent for fighting inflammation and itchiness. It has the same effect for dogs, making it great for relieving irritation associated with ear infections.

The three-point enzyme system can be used not just for cleaning and preventing infections, but also for treating infections. It can be used to treat both acute and chronic infection of the outer ear canal, whether due to fungus, bacteria, or yeast.  is even effective against microorganisms, like staphylococcus, that are resistant to antibiotics. To treat infections, it’s safe for use for up to 14 days. It comes in 1.25-ounce, 4-ounce, and 8-ounce bottles.

pros
  • Contains hydrocortisone
  • Gentle and safe for long term use
  • Effective even against antibiotic-resistant microorganisms
  • Enzyme based and free of antibiotics
Cons
  • Pricey
  • 1.25-ounce size is a little small
Best Cat Ear Cleaner for Yeast Infections

TrizULTRA + Keto Flush

For cats with yeast infections, TrizULTRA + Keto Flush is the best choice.

TrizULTRA + Keto Flush is fragrance-free, so it can be used on its own, or as a pre-treatment for a topical antibiotic treatment prescribed by your vet. Just use it 15 to 30 minutes before you apply the topical antibiotic. As always, remember to talk to your vet first, before combining treatments. However, it can also be used as a treatment and preventative on its own, without any additional medication.

This ear rinse is effective for both cleansing the ears and preventing the growth of fungus. It’s also gentle and non-stinging, so it can be used frequently. TrizULTRA + Keto Flush is veterinarian-recommended and safe for use for not just cats and dogs, but also horses. It comes in a large, 12-ounce bottle.

pros
  • Cleansing and antifungal action
  • Gentle enough for frequent use
  • Fragrance-free
  • Large container
Cons
  • A bit pricey
  • Not as effective at treating existing infections on its own

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the brown stuff in my cat’s ears?

Cats naturally have brown earwax that may look like dirt or dried blood. It can be dark enough in color that it may even appear black. As long as there’s only a small amount, there’s generally nothing to worry about. However, if there’s excessive buildup, it may be evidence of a health issue like an infection, inflammation, allergies, or ear mites.
How do you get the black stuff out of a cat’s ears?

Cleaning a cat’s ears is a simple process, but as a cat owner, you probably know that a wiggly cat can complicate anything. It’s a good idea to clean your cat’s ears at a time when they’re already relaxed and calm. Wrapping them in a towel before you get started can help you keep them calm and relaxed. Once you’re ready to begin cleaning, fill one ear canal with the cleaning solution, then massage the base of the ear for about 30 seconds. After that, use a cotton ball or gauze to wipe away debris. Your cat will instinctively want to shake out their ear and you should let them do so to clear out any lingering debris and cleaning solution. Wipe the interior of the ear with a cotton ball of gauze again. Then repeat the process on the other side. Never use a cotton swab to clean your cat’s ears and never insert anything into the ear canal. Give your cat treats and praise throughout the process to make the experience more pleasant for them.
Should you clean inside a cat’s ears?

If your cat is prone to or at risk for ear problems, like ear infections, cleaning the inside of their ears every three to four months may be a good idea. However, most cats with healthy ears don’t need help keeping the inside of their ears clean. If you’re not sure whether or not you should be cleaning your cat’s ears, or how often, speak to your vet. And remember, never place any solid object in your cat’s ear canals, even while cleaning.
How often should you clean a cat’s ears?

Since cats do some cleaning of their ears on their own, you generally don’t have to clean them very often. Once every 2-3 months is plenty frequently for most cats. Many cats may need less frequent cleaning and some don’t need help keeping their ears clean at all. Avoid cleaning too frequently, as this can actually lead to irritation, and ask your vet about how frequently your particular cat’s ears need to be cleaned.

Plus, if you’re looking for additional resources for your cat you can also check out our list of the best non dust cat litter options.

Dr. Danielle Morosco
Dr. Danielle Morosco, DVM is a Consulting Veterinarian in Clinical Toxicology and experienced small animal emergency veterinarian. She graduated with Honors from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. She loves spending time with her furry family members, composed of 2 rescue dogs and 3 cats.