10 Easy Home Remedies for Ear Infections

| Modified: Nov 10, 2020
Add New Post Ear Infection Natural Remedies

Ear infections can come on suddenly and be extremely painful. There are many effective natural remedies for ear infections, including garlic, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Causes of Ear Infections

Ear infections can be caused by a virus, bacteria or fungus. Antibiotics are the traditional way to treat ear infections. However, antibiotics cannot cure a fungal or viral ear infection. Commonly when antibiotics are used to treat bacterial ear infections, the infection returns after a time. Natural remedies like garlic and mullein have been found to be as effective as the antibiotic amoxicillin.1 Natural remedies do not carry the risks of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria or fungal infections as a result of antibiotic treatment.

Ear infections, especially middle ear infections, are often secondary infections. The common cold, influenza, and sinus infections may all proceed an ear infection.

The sinuses, throat, and nasal cavities are in close proximity to the ear, making it easy for infection to get to the ears from these areas.

Infections of the outer ear are usually bacterial or fungal in nature. These infections are frequent among swimmers. Outer ear infection and swimmer’s ear are commonly used interchangeable to described these types of infections.

How to Naturally Treat an Ear Infection

Sometimes remedies are put directly into the ear. Other remedies are taken orally. Some are applied topically around the ear, but not directly in the ear.

If an eardrum is ruptured, do not choose remedies that are put directly into the ear.

Essential oils should not be used in the ear. Even diluted essential oils are very strong!

1. Garlic

Garlic fights viruses, bacteria and fungus. This kitchen remedy can be used several different ways.

A few drops of garlic oil can be dropped into the ear or massaged behind and around the ear.

Minced fresh garlic can be lightly heated in olive oil on the stove. The resulting oil can be cooled and a few drops added to each ear.

A garlic “tooth” can be carefully peeled and wrapped in a piece of cloth, tissue, or empty tea bag. The garlic is then placed in the opening of the ear. (Choose a piece large enough that it will not actually go into the ear.) Use a bandana to keep the garlic at the ear opening for a couple of hours or overnight.

2. Onion

Onion, in the same family as garlic, is another great ear infection remedy. Take a large slice of onion and heat it in the oven until it is soft. Allow it to cool to body temperature. Test it on your wrist and make sure it isn’t too hot. Wrap the onion in a damp cloth and hold against the infected ear for 15-30 minutes.

3. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. It is also gentle. This makes it suitable for a variety of infections. If the coconut oil is solid, take a tiny dab and place into the opening of the ear. If the coconut oil is liquid, add a couple of drops to the affected ear or massage behind the ear.

4. Olive Oil

Apply a few drops of olive oil to a piece of cotton ball and place into the ear opening. Leave it in for several hours or overnight. Change to a fresh cotton ball with olive oil after several hours or overnight. Sometimes olive oil is referred to as "sweet oil."

5. Mullein Oil

Mullein is an herb that fights infection and helps to get fluids moving. Mullein oil is easy to make. It can also be bought online or at health food stores. Add a few drops of mullein oil to the affected ear 2-3 times each day.

DIY Mullein Oil

Fill a small jar with dry mullein leaves or flowers. Cover the mullein with olive oil. Allow this to steep for 2 weeks. Strain out the plant material through a coffee filter. (Do not use a mesh strainer as the irritating hairs from the mullein leaves will end up in the resulting oil.) This oil will keep for several months.

6. Hydrogen Peroxide

3% hydrogen peroxide, in the brown bottle in the grocery store or drug store, can be added to the ear. It will bubble in the ear as it fights infection and dissolves ear wax.

7. Alcohol and White Vinegar

The alcohol and white vinegar is especially helpful for swimmer’s ear. Mix together equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. Drop several drops into each ear 2-3 times each day. For those who frequent the swimming pool, using this remedy after each swim can prevent fungal ear infections in those who are prone to them.

The alcohol helps to dry out the ear. The vinegar fights infections. In fact, vinegar has been fount to clear infection in antibiotic resistant infections of the ear.2

8. Steaming Washcloth

Hold a washcloth under very hot water. Put the hot wet washcloth into a mug. Lean the head over the mug to allow the steam to get into the ear. The warm moist steam can help break up congestion in the ear and relieve pain.

A heating pad or warm rice sock will also provide pain relief and can be used alongside other remedies to treat the infection.

9. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper, taken internally can relieve ear infections. Cayenne can kill infection and also promote drainage of fluids in the head. Simply add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to 6 ounces of juice. For sensitive stomachs it is best to take the tonic with a snack or small meal. This can be taken a couple of times a day.

10. Dietary Changes

Certain foods seem to aggravate those who are prone to ear infections. Dairy products are common irritants to those who struggle with ear infections as they tend to increase mucous production. Ice cream and homogenized milk tend to be the most common culprits.

Sugars and processed foods can satisfy hunger but when consumed too often can leave the body with nutritional deficiencies.

Additional Considerations

Even if only one ear seems to be infected, it is wise to treat both ears as it is common for the infection to begin in the other ear shortly thereafter.

If there is severe pain or accompanying fever it is ideal to consult a health professional.

Do you have a natural remedy for ear infections? Please send us some feedback!

Continue reading to see how our readers have treated their ear infections naturally and at home!


1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4753897/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26322459

Alcohol and White Vinegar

Posted by Jackie (Ca) on 11/30/2016 10 posts
5 out of 5 stars

I think this recipe is fairly well-known/common, but I thought I would share it here because I use it every time I get an ear infection (which is not that often), and it has cured me of all of them since I discovered it. One time several years ago I got a strange blister-like cyst in my ear canal, and this recipe cured that and brought almost immediate relief to the pain as well. The recipe is very simple: just combine equal parts of vinegar (I use regular white/yellow vinegar, but probably any kind would do), and Rubbing alcohol (70-90%), and put a drop in each ear and let it run down into the ear canal. When I had the strange cyst thing, I got a Q-tip soaked in the alcohol/vinegar mixture and then pressed it gently against the bump in my ear canal. Like I said, it felt better almost instantly, after having bothered me for weeks. That's when I first tried this recipe. Since then I have cured several other ear infections (including one my boyfriend had, who also said his ear felt better immediately). Both ingredients in the mix kill germs and the alcohol also has a drying effect, which I think is important if you have fluid build-up in the ear from the infection or swimming, etc.

Posted by Big Joe (Chicago, Il) on 10/23/2012
5 out of 5 stars

I have been using alcohol and white vinegar for 35 years with great effect every time. I keep a little squeeze bottle by my sink. The kind with the top that pushes in to close. I used half white vinegar and half isopropyl alcohol. I just put a few drops in one side and wait until it goes down all the way. Then do the other side. The mixture will not stain your clothes.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Posted by Laura (London) on 12/31/2016
5 out of 5 stars

I was in a lot of pain with a sore ear. Painkillers weren't working. I decided to try Apple Cider Vinegar and the pain is no more. I put 1 dropper full in my ear and sat with my head tilted for a few minutes. Very happy.


Posted by Dr. Nick (Palm Harbor Fl) on 08/11/2020
5 out of 5 stars

TLDR: get a cayenne pepper TINCTURE for Ear Infections

I read all the posts about cayenne, I tried taking a tsp full of it, didn't notice any difference. I, however, remembered that I had a cayenne pepper Herb Pharm tincture (I have a giant cabinet full of supplements). I took about 1 ML or a dropper full, and 10 minutes later my ear started popping and feeling better. I also applied some hydrogen peroxide, natural ear ache oil, which was also helpful. But I noticed the biggest difference from the cayenne.

Cayenne Pepper

Posted by Onyx (Madrid, Spain) on 03/08/2012
5 out of 5 stars

Hello fellow sufferers. Just felt obliged to share my experience. I've been having excruciating pain in both of my ears for the last 5 months, it was usually much worse during the evening. I was in physical and mental agony, because it really can drive you up the wall that pain. I found this website by accident looking for pain relief or at least some explanation (docs didn't help). The same evening I bought ground Cayenne Pepper and decided to give it a try... I put a bit less than half a teaspoon in a glass of luke warm water and downed it... I could feel it working from the first go!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It wasn't nice, I'm not used to spicy stuff and my eyes were about to pop out, but it passed a minute or so later. That heat the pepper gave cleared the pressure in my nose immediately.

The next day another 2 glasses of the magic stuff later I was laying on my right side and I felt a sudden sharp pain in my ear, like a pop, like someone stuck a screwdriver in my right ear and a strong sensation of relief.... Then..... Nothing.... Absolutely nothing. It was 2 weeks ago. I've not had pain since, not even once. I can't believe it!!!!!! It was ruining my life, I was grumpy the whole time, and not to mention very scared that it was something much more sinister than some infection. In my opinion it was an infection getting out of control, like candida or something. I was very stressed out at the time it started 5 months ago, so it can easily be stress related candida symptom. I do get an occasional itch in my ears, but small itching is normal now and again. I also take a glass of water with 1 tbspoon of ACV and 1/2 teaspoon of soda bicarbonate twice a day now, I can honestly say that I've never felt better. Thank you EarthClinic! THANK YOU! Good luck and good health everyone x

Posted by Niki (Eugene, Or) on 10/28/2011
4 out of 5 stars

I tried this remedy (1/4 teaspoon cayenne to 6oz water) and did exactly as it says. My sinuses did drain a little, but my ear continued to hurt and stay clogged for some time. It did drain about 2-3 hours after I went to bed. I have no doubt that it was helpful, but I cannot say I experienced any immediate relief.

I did not have fresh organic cayenne measured by strength; it was Morton's brand and fairly new, but I suspect it wasn't as potent or fresh as could be had.

Coconut Oil

Posted by Stuart (Puerto Princesa, Palawan Philippines) on 06/25/2011
5 out of 5 stars

Hi I live in Philippines, and love to go swimming only unfortunately I am prone to ear infections, which seem to happen nearly every time I go swimming, these infections are difficult to heal, I used to have to use anti-biotic ear drops, plus internal anti-biotics to clear them up and it would take 7 to 10 days.

One day after reading about the anti-bacterial properties of virgin coconut oil I decided to put vco drops in my ear several times a day, it cleared in 3 days, so now before I go swimming a few drops of vco will stop me getting an ear infection.

Colloidal Silver

Posted by Kerry (San Antonio, Tx) on 12/10/2017
5 out of 5 stars

I began to feel an ear ache that became increasingly painful to the point that I couldn't ignore it. I had colloidal silver on hand (10ppm) and put a couple drops in the affected ear. I felt a slight bubbling but within minutes lying on my side to allow the silver to penetrate, I felt the pain subside. I then began to resume my activities. I felt it return once more, I repeated the same procedure and soon enough pain subsided but this time never returned. I believe the colloidal silver quickly conquered an ear infection.

Dietary Changes

Posted by Christopher (USA) on 03/30/2008
5 out of 5 stars

An allergic reaction to milk doesnt have to be the runs! For me it was swelling of the throat and hours later a double ear infection.

I did feel there was a connection but did realize it till i read a french book on allergies. Ear infections can be caused by milk... same for swollen tonsils.. I have no tonsils anymore.. i wish i had been old enough to stop them from cutting them out...

Anyhow we had free cheese at work.. didnt seem to affect me then one day i wanted milk...

i dont usually cause well like cheese... it contains mucus and is mucus forming... (at the time in camp, i had to eat cheese for protein cause some of the cooks thought pasta was food)

i drank 5 tiny cups like almost those bathroom cups of milk.. then that the evening my eardrums popped. i havent touched milk since. unless to test.where as a cup of chocolate milk made my throat glands on the sides sore...

The only other thing to make my throat swell like that is mcdonalds beef burgers and orange juice.

Replied by Kirk
Penfold, Sunshine Coast , British Columbia

You are absolutely right regarding milk and ear infections, alot of people are intolerant to dairy products with out knowing it, this is especially true for people with inherited smaller eustashian tubes. Even a slight amount of mucus that gathers in the tubes can result in ear aches and infections.


Posted by Rob (Kentucky) on 11/10/2020
5 out of 5 stars

Garlic Juice to Cure an Ear Infection, mince two garlic cloves and place the pulp into a fine mesh strainer. Use a spoon to squeeze the pulp thru the strainer so the juice falls thru into a small bowl. Now, use an eye dropper to collect the juice. Add one drop garlic juice into your ear helps to relieve the pain and fight an ear infection. Use a cotton ball to plug the ear. Repeat 2 – 3 time daily til cured.

If garlic juice it too strong for you, cut it in half with a drop of olive oil 1:1 ratio.

Posted by Fahim (Concord Ca.) on 07/22/2017
5 out of 5 stars

I had a very bad earache. I put clove of garlic in to my ear. Couldn't believe how fast the pain was gone. Also used it on my tooth and my gum. Fascinating what God had created for pain and killing any bacteria.

Posted by Eb (San Antonio, Tx) on 10/19/2012
5 out of 5 stars

I have had an acute ear infection since Tuesday. I've been taking antibiotic drops three times a day, and prescription-strength ibuprofen as needed for the pain. Unfortunately, "as needed" was turning out to be a lot more than I'd expected. It didn't seem like the antibiotics were working. I realized that I was taking my prescriptions like a good girl, but I wasn't doing anything to enable my own body to fight the infection naturally.

Starting last night (Thursday night) I began taking a TON of Vitamin C. Then I came to this site and read about garlic, and this morning I bought some 2, 000 mg garlic tablets. I took two right away, and some more Vitamin C. Within an hour I felt my inner ear begin to drain into my throat, which I took as a good sign. I am continuing my antibiotic drops, but they hurt so bad when I put them in that I have to blow-dry my ear afterwards (which REALLY helps).

Long story short, I've only had to take a minimum dosage of over-the-counter pain medicine (ibuprofen) today, because I can absolutely feel the infection clearing up. It's still a bit painful, and every once in a while it will throb for a few minutes, but I can generally deal with it and it's not the nail-biting, leg-cramping, stomach-twisting agony I've been experiencing for the last two days.

I definitely recommend it! It can't hurt, after all. And of course I'm not discontinuing the medicine I was given by my doctor.

Posted by Ani (Ontario, Canada) on 11/26/2008
5 out of 5 stars

I never tried garlic juice and it does sound like it would be painful but I've always used garlic successfully to cure an ear infection. Just score a garlic clove, wrap in gauze so there is no too direct contact and place in ear, preferably over night. Usually does the trick.

I've also used olive oil to soothe ear pain. Heat the oil a bit and dip cotton and make into a little ball to pout in the ear. The warmth and something in the oil immediately eases the ear pain and often is enough to cure the problem.


Posted by Jp (Culver City, California) on 03/29/2012
5 out of 5 stars

Tried several of the wonderful suggestions here on an unexpected ear infection (garlic, ACV, alcohol & distilled white vinegar, coconut oil), and none of them made a significant difference, alas. Then I read a piece on Manuka --aka tea tree or jelly bush-- honey, and its powerful antibacterial effects. Fortunately, I still had a tube of Manuka from my last trip to New Zealand, applied a small amount v-e-r-y gently with a Q-tip around the perimeter of my ear canal, and voila ! Pain erased. The infection was gone by the next day.

Nature is so wise; my personal belief is that bees are absolute angels of health and well-being on our planet. One can often find Manuka honey from NZ in health stores worldwide. It's usually a very dark amber color. (And, of course, being honey, it's delicious! )

Hydrogen Peroxide

Posted by Nadera (Woodside, NY) on 03/08/2009
5 out of 5 stars

A few days ago, I woke up in the morning and couldn't get out of bed because... I suddenly started to feel dizzy. Everything was going upside down, and I felt nauseous. So, I lay for a while untill I could go to the bathroom, where ofcourse, I threw up! For a couple of days I was confined in bed, later when I felt slightly better, I went to my doctor. He prescribed Meclizine 25mg(saying that I have ear-infection) which I took for a few days. Then I went to your site and read about H202. So, I plucked up enough courage and poured half a tsp.,of 3% Hydrogen peroxide in both my ears. There was a bubbling sensation and I was scared whether I was doing the right thing, yet kept on repeating the process three times a day. After a few days, I went to the hospital to have my ears checked (just in case) to make sure; because deep down I was also worried what if, the infection had spread or something...

My vertigo, had not subsided completely yet, so I went to the emergency, the doctor having checked everything said, she doesn't see any infection in my ears, so she referred me to an ENT. By the time, I got to see the specialist (according to the appointment) few days went by, but I didn't stop the application of my home remedy. In the meantime my dizziness got cured, by the grace of Almighty God.

The specialist checked my ears and put me through several tests, finally discharged me saying everything was clear. THANK GOD!