Get the exclusive (almost) Weekly Digest.

    Other Thoughts

    Homemade Ear Drops

    February 11, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]I[/dropcap] was one of those children with chronic ear infections. I was even hospitalized for them twice, they were so bad. It was, I think, an almost constant source of frustration for my parents, especially since not only winter cold season aggravated my ears, but also summer swimming activities.

    Finally, when I suppose I was nine or ten, my parents finally decided to pursue a specialist. To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with a physical defect that caused me to be prone to ear infections, and we were given a recipe for homemade ear drops.

    I’m not going to say I never had another ear infection after we were given this simple recipe, but I don’t remember having one. The instructions said to use two or three drops after swimming, but in college I remember using them whenever my ear ached even a bit.

    Last night, I could have kicked myself when our four-year-old appeared in our room whimpering about an aching ear. After all, she’s been swimming for, I think, six weeks now, and I never bothered to make up a batch of drops, and she is our child who was most prone to ear infections as a baby.

    So, this morning, first thing, I whipped up a batch. I had a nice little dropper bottle leftover from a homeopathic remedy made for us by a certain favorite doctor of ours.

    I plan to use the drops three times today on the four-year-old, and also on the resident toddler, who woke up yesterday morning crying “Ow! Ow! Ow!” We have all had a nasty cold this week, I am still sick, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his ears are tender, too.

    Here is the recipe. Be careful. It is so simple that you might miss it:

    1/3 cup white vinegar + 1 tsp. rubbing alcohol


    Actually, the original recipe was for a pint, but who has ever seen a dropper bottle that was pint sized? I certainly haven’t, and so I reduced the recipe to something smaller. I usually put the two or three drops in one ear while they are lying on their sides {if it is a toddler, I have a wrestling match to make sure this happens}, and have them lie there for a minute or two. After this, they can sit up and let whatever is leftover run out onto a tissue. Then, we do the other side.

    This recipe was only supposed to be for after swimming, but, like I said, I’ve used it whenever I wanted to avoid antibiotics {which is to say, always}, and it has worked for me with consistently wonderful results.


    Warning: this recipe ought not be used if the ear drum has burst or is otherwise compromised. This post is not a substitute for a visit with a real doctor!

    Get the (almost) weekly digest!

    Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.

    Powered by ConvertKit


  • Reply Jen Vietmeier, Realtor August 26, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I did get seen by an ENT and they tested my hearing and they looked at my ears and they told me I was fine but I have all the same symptoms that you mentioned except the main symptom that I have is that I feel a watery substance moving around inside my ears. I’m going to try this recipe today and see if it helps. A similar recipe was posted on many other different websites including the Mayo Clinic. at least I can feel fairly certain that I don’t have a punctured eardrum since the ENT has looked at me and told me my ears are fine. Thank you everyone for posting here this is been extremely helpful!

  • Reply caren.carrillo August 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Does this solution ever “expire”? Can I make a big bottle of it to last a while, or do I need to make a new batch every week or so?


    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 1, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      I have never had it go bad, but I only make one dropper bottle at a time. However, the original recipe was for a big, huge batch like what you’re talking about so my guess is that as long as it seals well it’d last a very long time.

  • Reply Anonymous May 10, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you sooooo much! I used to use a recipe similar to this when my son woke up in the middle of the night just howling in pain. It would work right away! I am so thankful to have found your recipe today!!! My daughter was just bawling when she got off the bus and I jumped online and found your blog. It started working immediately. She’s all better now. Thanks again!

  • Reply Brandy Vencel March 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Well, you definitely didn’t have a good doctor!

    This recipe was given to me by a doctor, and I was very young when he gave it to me, so I don’t remember a lot. I wouldn’t even remember the recipe if my mother hadn’t written it down! With that said, the one caveat I remember was that it was not safe to use on ruptured ear drums. It could hurt very badly if you did that! So you probably want to see a doctor and make sure your ear drums are intact and you don’t have lesions or anything in your ear canal.

    I cannot tell you for sure if it will help you. All I know is that it helped me and still helps me and I also use it with my children.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts February 16, 2010 at 5:55 pm


    I had not heard of a massage technique for sinus-related issues. Is it easy to explain? I would love to have another trick up my sleeve.


    Are you swimming this time of year also? Do you have access to an indoor pool? We are really enjoying swimming, especially in the weeks of inclement weather we were having for a while there. It kept everyone from climbing the walls when they couldn’t go outside!

  • Reply Karyn February 16, 2010 at 7:08 am

    A perfectly timed post. Thank you! I remember lying on my side after swim lessons at my beloved Bakersfield Swim School (the home of the kickers and strokers) while my mom put these drops in my ears. I was just thinking that I needed to whip up something for baby girl’s ears and it would probably do mine some good too after our almost daily swims!

  • Reply Emily February 12, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    This is good to know, Brandy. None of my children have ever gotten onto the merry-go-round of ear infections/antibiotics, thankfully. When they were small and exhibited signs of ear pain, I used a mixture of garlic, mullein, and tea tree oil. The garlic and tea tree are anti-fungal. Have you ever heard of using a massage technique (when it is sinus-related)? We used to do that as well.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts February 11, 2010 at 11:49 pm


    Fungal! Very interesting…And that could be what is going on with A., since I’m beginning to guess it is more connected to her swimming than to her recent cold. I wonder if it would be helpful to also add organic coconut oil? That is antifungal as well. Hmmm…maybe I will try that tonight when I treat her again with the drops.


    Yes! It really is that simple. 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer February 11, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Is that really all? I will keep a batch of this handy as well! Thanks for the family health tip- so useful.

  • Reply sara February 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    I had an external ear infection a few years back that turned out to be fungal. My doctor treated me with gentian violet and then told me that the recipe you just described is a good one to use – especially after swimming.

    I think I remember reading that the alcohol helps trapped water to evaporate quicker while the vinegar combats fungus – but I could be wrong about that.

    • Reply Pete May 18, 2017 at 7:05 am

      alcohol helps trapped water to evaporate quicker while the vinegar combats fungus – exactly.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts February 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Yes, see I was going to tell you about this when you emailed me, but then he had so much else going all that it wasn’t like these drops were going to solve that! Poor little guy…

    You could try garlic compresses with him if you wanted to. I use this when I suspect infection, especially when I can’t really afford to go see our beloved Dr. Linda. If it doesn’t clear up with my home remedies, then I break out the wallet… 🙂

  • Reply Rebecca February 11, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Sounds a lot like what my mom used after the first time I had to be treated for swimmer’s ear. I was going to ask you earlier this week what you like for ear infections, but since little J has a sinus infection and bronchitis as well, we went ahead and went the antibiotic route.

    • Reply Mark October 5, 2016 at 10:26 am

      I use 30% baby oil 70% water and 2gram of table salt in 200ml of the pair. Put it in an old bottle of drops. Before use put some boiled water in a cup and sit the bottled mixture in it for 2mins then give it a good shake and test on wrist like you do with anything that could be too hot. I do it to loosen wax once a week. £10 for something similar in the chemist and it works

    Leave a Reply