Prevent Ear Infections This Summer . . . Make Your Own Swimmer’s Ear Drops

swimmers ear

I was born and raised in Southern California. When I was 8 years old we moved into a house with a pool. As wonderful as that was…from that point forward, I was in a constant battle with “Swimmer’s Ear”.  I guess that’s what you get when you spend most of your time in the pool UNDERNEATH the water pretending you are a mermaid. :-)

Swimmer’s ear is an EXTERNAL ear infection that affects the ear drum in the ear canal. When water get stuck in the ear canal after swimming or bathing, the water can irritate the skin of the ear canal which then gets invaded by bacteria. This infection will fester until it builds up enough to cause pain.

To help prevent swimmer’s ear, you can make and use your own Swimmer’s Ear Drops. Although these won’t cure an existing infection, they are very effective at making sure you avoid future ones.

swimmers ear

Even parenting expert and pediatrician, Dr. William Sears, recommends making and using your own Swimmer’s Ear Drops.

He points out that you can BUY swimmer’s ear drops in the drug store, but they do not have any advantage over plain white vinegar and alcohol.

I only WISH I had known about these drops back in the day! Might have saved me many a painful experience….not to mention trips to the doctor’s office!

ear drops

How to make your own Swimmer’s Ear Drops:

1. Pour equal amounts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol in a small bottle with a dropper lid. Close and shake the bottle gently to mix the ingredients.

2. Tilt your head to the side and gently pull the ear lobe down. Place 5 to 10 drops of the mixture into the ear. Keep your head held to the side for a few minutes so the ear drops don’t drain out.

3. Hold a towel of some sort up to your ear. Raise your head up and allow the drops for swimmer’s ear to drain out. Wipe off any drops that run out of your ear.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on other ear.

Important – do not place alcohol into an already sore or infected ear. This will be very painful for an already hurting child. If your child has a swimmer’s ear, and gets water in it, then use just white vinegar.

swimmers ear

As a former FREQUENT Swimmer’s Ear sufferer….I sincerely hope this helps the little swimmer’s out there this summer from having to go through all that unpleasantness and pain….and the parents who have to deal with it. :-)


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  1. ANN MARIE says

    This is the Swimmer’s Ear Drops from when my kids took swimming lessons:
    2/3 Everclear
    1/3 Vinegar
    Using any size dropper/dispenser, I used an empty dropper bottle.
    They did not get ONE ear problem during there lessons! The teacher was nice enough to tell me the recipe.
    I thought I would share with yall :())

  2. Kim S. says

    Thank you SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!! I LOVE your blog!!!!!!!!! Not only is it colorful and easy on the eyes, it’s also full to the BRIM of extremely useful information for this mama!! You save me money and also I know what is going into my family’s products.

  3. Stephanie w. says

    We used to put a drop or two of rubbing alcohol in our ears to help get the water out of our ears that we couldn’t seem to get out. My brother and I were on swim team pretty much every year from kindergarten to high school. Another kind of strange thing we used to do is when our eyes were all red and hurt from the chlorine my mom would put a drop of milk in our eyes and it really did seem to help.

    • Kris Hackbart says

      Milk is isotonic (same amount of salt as blood) So it wouldn’t sting like plain water and the fat in it probably soothed the eyes like a lotion!

  4. Celeste says

    GREAT post. Both kids and the husband had swimmers ear last year and the meds cost $100—and that was the adjusted price for insurance. We are doing this after every dip in the pool this year. THANKS!

    • Cori Scharp says

      My son currently has swimmers ear (so painful) and yes the meds cost $100 after insurance paid $75 worth. It’s insane.

  5. Darlene says

    Be really careful with this. We thought my grandson had swimmers ear and put the drops in and he screamed like he was dying. So we took him to the ER and his ear had gotten scratched by the sand when he was in the ocean when he got knocked down by a wave. I will never put anything in their ears again after that.

  6. Courtney says

    Thank you for this! Two of my kids are prone to swimmer’s ear and we’ve been using store-bought drops. It’s nice to know that when we run out, I can just make my own at home.

  7. Kathy says

    My grandmother kept a bottle of this mixed for us when we visited her in the summer. That was 40 years ago. I still use it for my kids, and it has been a lifesaver. It really works – and so inexpensive.

  8. Mary Malone says

    hmmm. I don’t swim ever! But my golden retriever swims 3 x a week and has had ear infections from me not getting all the wet out of her ear canal. That is what this stuff does, right? Dries out the wet that is in the ear?? hmmmm.

    • Boo Martin says


      My Vet gave me this same recipe for my Malti-poo who has trouble with water in his ears.

      Should work for you golden.

    • Donna says

      I have used this same solution for over 20 years, on both my dogs (especially long eared dogs) after baths or swimming and on my niece after swimming.

  9. Angela says

    This is a great thing to share.It works great, doctor recommended this a few years back when all 3 of my kids got swimmers ear at the same time. I wish someone had told my mom about this when I was younger. It doesn’t smell the greatest but who cares if it prevents the pain and save some $ in the process!!