Garlic Olive Oil for Ear Infection

Homemade garlic olive oil for ear infections

When it comes to powerhouse herbs and natural remedies for illness, garlic tops the list. It is naturally antimicrobial, antiviral and antibacterial, making it beneficial for helping the body fight many types of infections.

I always have fresh, organic garlic on hand because my husband comes from an Italian family and all of his favorite dishes call for garlic (and so does my favorite garlic soup). I’m always grateful I do when any of us get any kind of illness because of garlic’s natural ability to help the body fight infection.

Garlic as a Natural Remedy for Illness

Garlic has been used as a natural remedy for illness for thousands of years. There are historical records of its use in Ancient Greece and Rome, and it was part of the legendary vinegar of the four thieves tincture that supposedly saved four thieves from death during the bubonic plague.

There are almost 5,000 published studies that support garlic’s healing ability for everything from hypertension to hair loss and everything in between. (sources)

Though there are many supplements that contain garlic, I’ve found that raw, fresh, organic garlic seems to be the most effective remedy. I also include garlic in many tinctures as well as in my fire cider recipe.

The fastest and most effective way I use garlic for illness is mincing it up and drinking in water. It isn’t the most appetizing, but it works. I just mince one clove of garlic into tiny pieces and put in a small glass of water. I drink the water and just swallow the garlic pieces without chewing.

Unfortunately, my kids aren’t a fan of taking garlic this way because of the strong taste and they have more trouble swallowing the pieces of garlic. Since the most common childhood infection is an ear infection, I’ve been using a traditional garlic oil remedy for years to help fight ear infections quickly….

Garlic Olive Oil for Ear Infection

Traditional Garlic Olive Oil is a remedy that has been used for dozens, if not hundreds of years for ear infections. Unlike many other conventional remedies, garlic can work with the body and provide relief quickly with long-lasting results.

Antibiotics are often prescribed for ear infections, even though the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has not recommended this as a general practice since 2004. Many ear infections are caused by viruses, which are unaffected by antibiotics. (source)

Thousands of children unnecessarily get antibiotics each year for ear infections when the antibiotics are not even effective for most infections. This has potential long-lasting side effects as antibiotics can permanently alter gut bacteria and many types of bacteria are becoming antibiotic resistant due to overuse of these drugs.

Additionally, research has shown that most children fight an ear infection on their own within 24-72 hours without the need for antibiotics or other intervention.

That said, just hearing that your child will be better in 1-3 days is not comforting to a mother who is holding her toddler as he or she screams from the pain of an aching ear. Fortunately, there are remedies, like this garlic ear oil, that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used to ease the pain of ear infection and speed the healing process.

Why it Works:

Garlic is powerful on its own and olive oil is soothing to infection as well. Olive oil is often used as the base for healing salves and lotions because it contains potent polyphenols which reduce inflammation. Together, garlic and olive oil can help ease the pain of ear infection and reduce healing time.

Important Note:

This remedy is very effective, but it is important to make sure that the ear drum has not ruptured before using this or any other remedy in the ear. I have this Dr. Mom Otoscope on hand to check my child’s eardrum before using any remedy inside the ear canal. Typically, pain subsides if the ear drum bursts so the presence of pain can indicate that the ear drum is still intact, but I always like to check.

If one of my children does ever experience a ruptured eardrum, I would definitely get him or her checked my a doctor, though often not much can be done besides keeping the ear dry and letting it heal naturally.

How to Make Garlic Olive Oil for Ears

I’m grateful that ear infections are very rare in our family, but if one strikes, I immediately head to the kitchen to make this remedy…

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove of fresh garlic (organic if possible), minced
  • 2 tablespoons of high quality olive oil or sesame oil

Instructions:

  1. There are two ways this remedy can be made, depending on how much time you have and your preference for heating olive oil or not.
  2. The fastest way is to heat the olive oil in a small pan or double boiler (preferred) and add the minced garlic. Then, keep on very low heat for about 20 minutes to let the beneficial properties of the garlic infuse into the oil. At this point, strain the garlic and remove. I let the garlic cool to just skin temperature and place about two drops in the ear. The warmth and the oil often offer fast relief. Since fresh garlic is used, I make a new batch of this mixture every 24 hours if needed rather than keeping the remaining oil, since bacteria can potentially grow from the garlic.
  3. If you prefer not to heat garlic, you can accomplish the same thing by mincing raw garlic and keeping in olive oil without heating for 2-3 hours before straining and using, though this option is not as helpful if you need immediate relief.

Fresh Garlic Poultice

If you don’t have oil on hand or prefer not to use it, you can accomplish some of the same benefit by slicing a clove of garlic and placing between layers of a piece of gauze. Then, this gauze can be placed on the outside of the ear and left for 30 minutes or so to help fight infection. This isn’t as effective as the oil used internally but is safer, especially if you don’t know if the eardrum is intact or not. To increase the beneficial potential, you can also place a warm rice pack on the outside of the gauze to add heat.

A Pre-Made Alternative

Though I’ve found that homemade fresh warmed garlic olive oil is more effective, there are also pre-made versions (like this one) you can keep on hand that don’t carry the same risk of bacterial growth and that are very convenient.

What do you do for ear infections? Ever tried a natural remedy like this?

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Reader Comments

  1. I started eating 3-5 cloves of garlic chopped up and uncooked in my daily food and shakes 30 months ago. I have NOT had a single illness of any allergies since. Miracle stuff

  2. This sounds “stinkin” great ha-ha, don’t mind the pun & thanks for the info 😉

    • The body absorbing the garlic over time and smell is minimal, only had a 2 people notice in the beginning so it is not what it might seem to be.

  3. Can. Use this of cats?

    • No onion or garlic can be used with cats. They are both deadly to cats.

  4. I just wanted to let you know I find the home remedy so helpful thanks

  5. I used this method and also a couple drops of colloidal silver on my son more than 2 years ago and he’s never had an ear infection again! And he only had it less than a day! So awesome! What are your thoughts on colodial silver?

    Also where you give the instructions it says your putting the garlic into the ear but you put the oil right? I think it was a typo….. Just thought I’d point it out in case someone hasn’t tried this and doesn’t know to use the oil 🙂
    Awesome post!!!! Now I know I can use garlic for other things as well!

  6. The cheese cloth method is good but watch the child’s skin since raw garlic can burn and cause irritation. I’ve heard raw onion in cheese cloth can also be affective.

  7. I started using this recipe this flu season. My 4yr old son was having ear infection very often and I did not want to give antibiotic every time. So i started looking for natural remedies. warm up sesame oil with few cloves of garlic on the stove on low heat few minutes and then let it cool. When the oil is still soothing warm i apply it for the infected ear. The pain is mainly caused by the pressure on the ear drum due to the increased pressure in the middle ear. The highly viscous oils like sesame or olive oil will soothe the thin ear drums by providing more volume.
    Combine this with warm salt compress. By the time we go to visit the doctor the ear infection almost gone and the Dr no longer prescribes antibiotic. This has worked for me number of time and will recommend this.
    Clogged nostrils will increase the pressure in the ear and also increase the possibility of getting bacteria from the nose to the ear. So make sure the kids nostrils are clear of any phlegm before going to bed. It is not easy to get any cooperation from the kids to clean their nose. Try enough to get it a little clear. Tried the NeilMeds sinus rinse works very well but the kids hate it. What i do now is to splash some water into the nose to loose the phlegm and then clean after 5 minutes.

  8. How often do you recommend placing the drops in the affected ear?

    • I do it every few hours until the child feels better.

      • Katie, I’m interested in purchasing a hard copy of you remedies handbook. Where can I purchase your book?

        • The Natural Remedies Handbook is only available as an ebook…

      • You let the oil stay in the ear, correct? Or do you drain it?

        • Such a small amount is used that it pretty much absorbs and it doesn’t need to be drained.

  9. Great post about lovely garlic!! When my kids were young and they spent all summer in the river/lake/pool, depending on where we lived they would need garlic oil at least once every summer. Garlic is not only antibacterial but is a NATURAL SULPHA compound, so it has very powerful drying effects. So many times it was fluid in the ear canal that was the major source of the pain. I also added mullein flowers the garlic oil to steep because of their antibacterial properties. We never had to use Dr.s/antibiotics for ear infection after we started using garlic/mullein flowers steeped in oil.

  10. My mom always did this when I was a child– she had five kids and I don’t think any of us took antibiotics for ear infections, garlic oil always worked like a charm!

  11. Would you have any hesitation in using this for pets? I JUST ordered an ear cleaner for my cat b/c the vinegar and water solution I grew up with is not doing the trick…

    • I have used straight Olive Oil in my cats & dogs ears for over 30 yrs. It kills ear mites better than anything a vet has ever given me. I just get a dropper and fill the ear up.and wioe whatever oozes out. Im sure with garlic it would be even better.

  12. Unfortunately it’s not working for me. I have been putting garlic oil drops in my ear for about two months and it’s still clogged and I still can’t hear. 🙁

    • I gave my son warm, red onion juice. It’s an anti-imflamatory and antibacterial….works like a charm and he loves onions now. Just a slice in the microwave, warm it and make sure it’s not too hot before putting drops in ear. Massage around the ear and drain 😉

    • Use a bulb of warm water & a bit of hydrogen peroxide. Place the tip of the bulb into your ear canal at a 30 degree angle to the canal, & squirt the water in there at a decently strong pressure. If you keep oiling, then water bulbing, you will get a ton of crap coming out of your ear. It took me about 3 or 4 days before I got some of the most disgusting garbage draining out of my ear, but it came out, & I could hear again.

  13. How often do you put the 2 drops in their ears? every 24 hrs? You say you make a new batch every 24 hrs, but do you apply it only once during the day?

    • Great point.. i should have clarified that. I use every 2-3 hours until the child feels better

  14. What I always do for ear infection is that I cut a garlic in a way that fits into my ear and I just leave for a hour or so , it’s such a relief and you’ll notice that the ear infection is gone . You might need to repeat the process depending on how bad the infection is .

    • I tried that… it burnt.. immediately..

  15. I had a bad ear infection coming on (woke up with slight pressure and within 2 hours my jaw was starting to hurt). Remembered reading about the garlic infused oil and so “dancing” around the kitchen in pain i made some. I forgot about the 2-3 drops and just filled my ear with it and added a cotton plug. It didn’t take long for the pain to start easing and after about 1-2 hours i unplugged it and laid on that side so it could drain but I fell asleep. Woke up a few hours later and nearly the same process except I didn’t fall asleep and decided to look up the remedy to see if I had done it right. I got a little scared about having put too much and maybe causing bacteria to grow (botulism?) anyway I then did an ACV with alcohol rinse (1/2 AVC & 1/2 alcohol… fill ear, leave for 3-5 minutes then flip head to drain). i have been doing the rinse for a few days but I feel like it working in reverse of what the oil did… Like it very slowly drying it out or something. But I don’t want to do the oil again without some questions being answered, preferably by someone like you, who actually uses it (have a feeling that some other bloggers haven’t ).

    After heating, straining, cooling do you leave it opened or cover it (for use every few hours)? Do you refridgerate it & if so how do you re-warm it? Do you lay down with that ear up so it will go all the way down and stay there for a while or once it goes to the “bottom” do you get up? Do you use a cotton ball plug?

    Sorry about all the questions, but as they say “the devil is in the details” I just don’t want to make anything worse and some so-called “experts” try to scare everyone away from raw garlic completely.

    • I actually just leave in the pan, covered, for use up to 24 hours and then remake. This way, I can easily rewarm it. I do lay down typically, but it is also effective just putting a few drops on the cotton ball (though typically not as quickly). I’ve always felt safe using this with fresh garlic as long as I re-made the batches at least every 24 hours.

    • I make enough to fill a sterile, empty, glass spice jar with a screw top lid. To warm it a bit I place it in hot water til it is slightly warmer than tepid before opening the jar and using the oil.

  16. I asked my child’s doctor about this as my daughter recently may have had an ear infection. We just let it run its course. Not because I didn’t believe you but I was just curious of her response since she tends to be open to natural treatments. Her only concern was the oil causing a buildup inside the ear. Any thoughts on that?

    • Following the above comment. I know dr NCM recommends this and just curious if a build up can occur. I love having these awesome natural remedies available for when they’re needed. I unfortunately took copious amounts of antibiotics as a child for years without end and am reaping the consequences. I avoid them like the plague when possible. Let us know when you have a free moment your thoughts katie! And thanks so much !!

  17. Hi… My daughter is on her 3rd double ear infection. She has never had a cold… Never been sick except for her ears. She is 16 months old and is being referred to an ENT. Do you think she is too young for this method… The idea of tubes in her ears and having to put her under is scaring me.

  18. Could You give a source about this information: ‘Antibiotics are often prescribed for ear infections, even though the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has not recommended this as a general practice since 2004.’? Please 🙂

  19. I use a garlic press, and put some in a spoonful of yogurt. Tell the kids to just swallow it down without chewing. I find this an easy way to take fresh garlic. Do it as soon as there are cold symptoms and the cold will disappear. You may have to administer a few times, every few hours but it works.

  20. I wouldn’t use this in my kids eard because I have hearing loss (basically deaf in one ear) do to an ear infection harming my inner ear as a child. But I would think it may help prevent infection using it from time to time. Think this would be a good idea?

  21. Hi there,
    Thank you for your article. How long do you leave it in the ear? Do you drain it out and wash out ear or leave it in?
    Thank you

  22. Have you ever had it happen that you put it in and it didn’t come out? My ear has now been plugged for hours. I’m a little scared. I tried hot compresses; hot steam;(bowl of hot water and a tent); also tried a hot bath, letting that half of my head soak; as well as lying on that ear for hours. Nothing. Any idea what to do?

    • Did you make sure your ear drum had not ruptured before using? I’ve never had this happen but wonder if your ear drum had ruptured. I’d definitely go see a doctor or urgent care center if it continues though.

  23. My 19 month old has an ear infection and was prescribed an antibiotic that I’m not comfortable with her taking due to the side effects. So I’m thinking of letting it run its course as she does not have a fever and seems to be in very little pain. However, I am interested in the natural healing properties of garlic so thanks for this article.

    Im just not clear on whether or not the oil is supposed to be drained out of the ear. Do I put a couple of drops, let it sit for a while and drain or just leave it in? Thanks in advance.

    • I do drain, usually by putting a cotton ball on the outside of the ear to collect the oil.

  24. How do you store the oil for the 24 hours? In the fridge between giving or just leave out?

    Thanks!
    (love your blog – rrl tea helped greatly with my last labor and I just started it again 2 weeks ago – 27 weeks today)

      • Great! Thank you!!

  25. Would it be ok to use avocado oil instead of olive oil?

  26. You can quote “thousands of studies”, the “AAP recommends..”, and “this-and-that has shown, but where are your references?

    Not to say that I doubt you (or your references, per se), but the more educated readers may tend to question your sources.

    “So-and-so says…” should almost always be followed with a link to a specific research study, meta-analysis, or reference page to the AAP suggestion. This will make you & your comparative methods much more credible.

    • Just added a couple more sources to the post, but often, sources are linked in-text rather than after the information…

  27. Hello. I have a 100 ml dropper bottle and I put one large fresh garlic clove chopped up into large pieces and filled with olive oil. It has been in there for a few days, smells very strong. Is this okay to use? Thanks for your help.

    • I’ve always made small batches and heated the olive oil to avoid bacterial growth. Sources seem divided and some do recommend just putting fresh garlic in oil… I just have never felt comfortable trying it myself…

  28. Tried this remedy and it works great but I’m wondering how long I should do it in order to make sure the virus or bacteria goes away completely?

    • Good question… I usually just do it once or twice after the pain is gone and we’ve never had trouble with the infection coming back…

  29. I wonder if i could use coconut oil as well in this remedy?

  30. Thanks so much, Katie! This worked after only one treatment! I haven’t slept more than 6 hours in over 5 days bc I was in such terrible pain. I tried everything! Antibiotics, Tylenol, Motrin, silver drops, etc., but this cleared it up within minutes!! You are a lifesaver ?

  31. Thank you so much!

  32. Is it ok to use on a 9.5 month old?

  33. Could I make this with coconut oil? I don’t have any olive oil or sesame oil on hand, and my son has the start of an ear infection.

  34. Hello Katie,
    Before reading this post, your article about solar-infused herbal oils had made me want to try a garlic oil to help with worm prevention for my 2 dogs and 3 cats. I had thought about using the solar-infused oil technique, with dried garlic, as i thought its shelf life would be pretty long this way. Do you think it would work, or do you recommend daily smaller batches using raw garlic?
    Thank you so very much in advance for your help! ?

  35. Hi Katie

    I tried the olive oil and garlic on my ear infection but had to stop as I was getting headaches which I think we’re coming from the oil. I made a fresh batch which I used within the 24 hrs. Wondering if you ever heard about this? Also approx many times a day is it safe to use the drops and for how many days for the infection to be gone?

    Is there something one can do after the treatment to remove the smell of garlic from your ears?

  36. Hello.. Making this for my 7 month old. Do You think coconut oil would be OK to use? All out of olive oil! Thanks!

  37. Do you know if this can be used if I have a ruptured tympanic membrane? I was told that both my ears had ruptured (never had drainage so I was surprised) about two weeks ago when I went in to the dr. for something unrelated. Today I woke up with pain in one of my ears which I know must mean it is now infected and I would like to try this to find some relief. Going to my doctor is not an option at this point because I do not want antibiotics, which is the only route she usually takes! Thanks

  38. Sorry, just read the response to my question in the post. I apparently missed it the first time I read hence my question.

  39. Was wondering about something I’ve been reading all of these garlic oil remedies everywhere and I gotta know,do you just drain the oil out or should you rinse it out or something no post has specified.Should I just drain it and then let the excess oil stick to the walls of my ear canal?

    • Yes put the oil in your ear & then put a cotton ball in your ear for a while. Don’t rinse the oil out of your ear. I hope this answers your question. This is a fantastic remedy! You will, literally, have relief within minutes! Feel better soon. ?

  40. What could be added to this to give it a bit of a shelf life?