Natural Remedies for Ear Infections: 10 Effective Home Treatments

| Modified on Oct 29, 2023
Ear Infection Natural Remedies

Ear infections, while common, can be distressing due to their sudden onset and intense pain. Often, people resort to over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs to find relief. However, natural remedies have been utilized for centuries, offering a gentler yet effective approach to treatment.

Ingredients like garlic, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar have been revered for their healing properties and can provide relief for those suffering from ear infections. These remedies not only alleviate symptoms but also aim to address the root cause, making them a popular choice for many.

Causes and Types of Ear Infections

Ear infections can arise from various culprits, including viruses, bacteria, or fungi. While antibiotics are the conventional method to address these infections, they're ineffective against fungal or viral ear infections. Moreover, even when used to tackle bacterial infections, there's a chance of the infection recurring post-treatment. Natural solutions such as garlic and mullein have been shown to match the efficacy of antibiotics like amoxicillin without the associated risks of fostering antibiotic-resistant bacteria or prompting secondary fungal infections.1

Middle ear infections frequently manifest as secondary infections, often succeeding conditions like the common cold, influenza, or sinus infections. Due to the close anatomical relationships between the ears, sinuses, throat, and nasal cavities, infections can easily migrate to the ear from these neighboring areas.

In contrast, infections of the outer ear typically have bacterial or fungal origins. Swimmers often encounter these, leading to the terms "outer ear infection" and "swimmer's ear" being used synonymously to describe such conditions.

Guidelines for Natural Ear Infection Remedies

When addressing an ear infection naturally, the method of application varies based on the remedy:

  1. Direct Ear Application: Some treatments are introduced straight into the ear canal. However, it's crucial to ensure the eardrum hasn't ruptured before using these remedies. If there's any doubt about the eardrum's integrity, avoid direct ear applications.
  2. Oral Remedies: Some natural solutions are consumed orally to combat the infection from within.
  3. Topical Application: Other remedies can be applied externally around the ear without being inserted into the ear canal.

A vital note on essential oils: Despite their therapeutic properties, they should never be used inside the ear, even in diluted form. Their potency can be harmful to the delicate structures within the ear.

Natural Remedies for Ear Infections

Harnessing nature's potency, various remedies have been traditionally used to combat ear infections. Here are some proven methods:


A potent antimicrobial agent, garlic effectively combats bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Its versatility allows for various application methods:

  • Garlic Oil Drops: Place a few drops of garlic oil into the ear or gently massage it around the ear for relief.
  • Homemade Garlic Oil: Gently warm minced fresh garlic in olive oil over low heat. Once cooled, place a few drops of this infused oil into the ear.
  • Garlic Poultice: Wrap a peeled garlic clove in cloth, tissue, or an empty tea bag, ensuring the size prevents it from entering the ear. Place it at the ear's entrance, securing with a bandana, and leave it for several hours or overnight.


Belonging to the same botanical family as garlic, onions are also effective in alleviating ear infections. Here's how to use them:

  • Onion Poultice: Slice a large piece of onion and warm it in the oven until soft. Once cooled to body temperature (always test on your wrist to ensure it's not too hot), wrap the onion slice in a damp cloth. Press it against the affected ear for 15-30 minutes for relief.

Coconut Oil

Recognized for its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, coconut oil is both potent and gentle, making it ideal for treating various infections. Here's how to apply:

  • Solid State: If the coconut oil is solidified, take a small amount and gently place it at the ear's entrance.
  • Liquid State: If the coconut oil is in liquid form, either insert a few drops directly into the affected ear or massage it around and behind the ear for relief.

Olive Oil

Olive oil, often called "sweet oil," has been traditionally used for ear discomfort. Here's the recommended method of application:

  • Cotton Ball Application: Infuse a cotton ball with a few drops of olive oil and gently position it at the ear's entrance. Let it sit for several hours or overnight. For prolonged use, replace with a freshly soaked cotton ball either after several hours or the next day.

Mullein Oil

Mullein, a therapeutic herb, possesses infection-fighting properties and aids in fluid circulation. Here's how to utilize its benefits:

  • Mullein Oil Application: Whether homemade or purchased from health food stores or online, mullein oil is a valuable remedy. Administer a few drops into the affected ear 2-3 times daily for best results.

DIY Mullein Oil Recipe

Creating your own Mullein oil is simple and can be a rewarding process. Here's how to make it:

  1. Preparation: Fill a small jar with dried mullein leaves or flowers.
  2. Olive Oil: Pour olive oil over the mullein, ensuring it's completely submerged.
  3. Steeping: Allow the mixture to sit and infuse for about 2 weeks.
  4. Straining: Carefully strain the oil through a coffee filter to remove the plant material. Avoid using mesh strainers, as the tiny, irritating hairs from the mullein might pass through, ending up in your finished oil.
  5. Storage: Store your freshly made Mullein oil in a cool, dark place. It should remain potent and effective for several months.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Commonly available at grocery stores or pharmacies in a signature brown bottle, 3% hydrogen peroxide is an effective remedy for ear infections. Here's how to use it:

  • Application: Introduce a few drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide into the affected ear. You'll likely hear and feel bubbling – this is a normal reaction as the solution combats the infection and helps break down earwax.

Alcohol and White Vinegar Solution

This combination is particularly beneficial for treating swimmer's ear. Here's how to prepare and apply the solution:

  • Preparation: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol in a clean container.
  • Application: Administer several drops into each affected ear 2-3 times daily. Regular swimmers can use this remedy post-swimming as a preventive measure against fungal ear infections, especially if they're susceptible to them.
  • Benefits: The alcohol aids in drying out the ear, while the vinegar possesses infection-fighting properties. Notably, vinegar has been documented to successfully treat ear infections, even those resistant to antibiotics.2

 Steaming Washcloth Technique

This method uses the healing power of warm steam to address ear congestion and pain. Here's how to utilize it:

  • Preparation: Saturate a washcloth with very hot water, then wring out the excess moisture. Place the hot, damp washcloth inside a mug.
  • Application: Lean your head over the mug, positioning the affected ear towards the steam. Allow the steam to enter the ear, as it can assist in dissolving congestion and providing pain relief.

Cayenne Pepper Tonic

Cayenne pepper, when consumed, can effectively combat ear infections due to its inherent properties. Here's a simple recipe to harness its benefits:

  • Benefits: Cayenne pepper not only possesses infection-fighting capabilities but also promotes the drainage of fluids in the head.
  • Preparation: Mix 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper into 6 ounces of juice.
  • Consumption Tips: If you have a sensitive stomach, it's advisable to consume this tonic alongside a snack or a light meal to minimize any potential discomfort. This mixture can be taken a few times daily for optimal results.

Dietary Adjustments

Diet plays a significant role in one's susceptibility to ear infections. Here's what to consider:

  • Dairy Products: For individuals prone to ear infections, certain dairy items might exacerbate the problem. They can increase mucus production, potentially leading to blockages and infections. Ice cream and homogenized milk are particularly known to be problematic.
  • Sugars and Processed Foods: While these can satiate hunger momentarily, over-reliance on sugars and processed foods can result in nutritional gaps, weakening the body's ability to fend off infections.

Additional Considerations

  • Treating Both Ears: Even if symptoms manifest predominantly in one ear, consider treating both. It's not uncommon for the other ear to develop an infection soon after the first.
  • Seek Medical Advice: Should you experience intense pain or fever accompanying an ear infection, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper guidance.

Have you discovered a natural remedy for ear infections that worked wonders for you? We'd love to hear about it! Share your experiences with us.

Dive deeper into the following sections to explore stories and remedies shared by our readers on naturally treating ear infections from the comfort of their homes!

Related Links:

Natural Remedies for Children's Ear Infections and Ear Pain

Alcohol and White Vinegar

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Jackie (Ca) on 11/30/2016 11 posts

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.

Alcohol and White Vinegar
Posted by Big Joe (Chicago, Il) on 10/23/2012

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.

Alcohol with Tincture of Iodine

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by rob (Kentucky) on 12/20/2020

Rubbing alcohol (use 70% or higher if available) dries the ear and kills both bacteria and fungi. An inflamed ear may sting a bit at first, but usually “toughens up” over time. If it really hurts, alcohol may not be the best choice for your ear – discuss with your doctor.

With a stubborn infection, your doctor may recommend using alcohol in your ear twice a day. In those who are infection prone, some folks use this once a week or once a month. I like to add 2% Tincture of Iodine to the alcohol at 2 drops iodine to 20 drops alcohol. Put the alcohol mixture in ear, allow to set for a minute or so, tilt head up right to drain liquid out of ear and use a hair dryer to dry my ear out even more.

Iodine kills bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and even spores of bacteria and fungi, including anthra spores. Iodine was used successfully against influenza, herpes, small pox, and chicken pox viruses. When iodine was suspended in a solution, viral inactivation occurred at dilutions of 1/1,000,000. (Gershenfeld, L.: Iodine. In Disinfection, Sterilization, and Preservation. Edited by S. S. Block. Philadelphia, Les & Febiger, 1977, pp.196-218.)

Apple Cider Vinegar

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Laura (London) on 12/31/2016

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.

Cayenne Pepper

3 User Reviews
5 star (2) 
4 star (1) 

Posted by Dr. Nick (Palm Harbor Fl) on 08/11/2020

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

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

Cayenne Pepper
Posted by Niki (Eugene, Or) on 10/28/2011

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.


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Kristina B (Conway, AR) on 09/27/2022

Chiropractic visit for ear infection. They can do an adjustment that will cause the eustachian tubes to open and drain. It makes a popping sound inside your head. I didn't know this was a thing, but went in for a routine appt when I had an ear infection once and said something about it when they asked how I was doing. They did that and it was IMMEDIATE relief. I always recommend garlic-infused olive oil and chiropractic care now.

Coconut Oil

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Stuart (Puerto Princesa, Palawan Philippines) on 06/25/2011

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

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Kerry (San Antonio, Tx) on 12/10/2017

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

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Christopher (USA) on 03/30/2008

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.


4 User Reviews
5 star (4) 

Posted by Rob (Kentucky) on 11/10/2020

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

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

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

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.

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