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10 Best Cat Ear Cleaners in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

grayish cat's owner cleaning its ears_Te9I_shutterstockMost cats don’t need to have their ears cleaned. But some cats are prone to ear infections and waxy buildup that can easily become something much more serious. For these felines, regular ear cleaning is a necessary part of their maintenance and grooming.

Ear infections can cause your cat’s ears to be inflamed, red, and painful. There might even be discharge or unpleasant odors coming from their ears. But a good cat ear cleaner can help to neutralize the bacteria and remove all the dirt, debris, and excess earwax, while even drying the ear canal out to prevent future bacterial growth.

If you’re like us, you don’t feel comfortable filling your cat’s ears with random chemicals. So, we did a lot of research before choosing the following 10 best cat ear cleaning solutions to compare in our reviews. Hopefully, they’ll save you the time and expense of testing them all as we did.

Cat ball divider 1A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner
  • Feature iconPrevents bacteria from attaching
  • Feature iconRemoves debris and wax
  • Feature iconDries the ear canal
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Frisco Cat Ear Cleaner Frisco Cat Ear Cleaner
  • Feature iconOne of the cheapest solutions
  • Feature iconNo synthetic fragrances, parabens, or dyes
  • Feature iconConditions while it cleans
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    MalAcetic Otic Cleanser MalAcetic Otic Cleanser
  • Feature iconNatural solution
  • Feature iconAntimicrobial
  • Feature iconHas a nice apple fragrance
  • OtiRinse Ear Cleansing/Drying Solution for Dogs & Cats OtiRinse Ear Cleansing/Drying Solution for Dogs & Cats
  • Feature iconSoothes ears
  • Feature iconAntiseptic solution
  • Feature iconAcidifying
  • NaturVet Ear Wash NaturVet Ear Wash
  • Feature iconReasonably priced
  • Feature iconDissolves earwax and foreign debris
  • Feature iconContains antimicrobial tea tree oil
  • The 10 Best Cat Ear Cleaners – Reviews 2021

    1. Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner – Best Overall

    1Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner for Dogs & Cats

    Perfect for the routine cleaning of sensitive ears, the Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner is soft on your pet’s ears but tough on the dirt, debris, and wax that’s built-up inside of them. This formula prevents bacteria from attaching while the anti-odor technology keeps your pet smelling fresh.

    This solution is great for cats with inflamed ear canals that are too sensitive for other formulas. It’s even recommended for pets with chronic otitis externa. Since it has a low pH, this ear cleaner won’t interfere with any other medications or cleaners you’re currently using.

    One major culprit of bacterial growth is moisture, which is why the Virbac Epi-Otic ear clear also dries the ear canal to ensure it never stays moist for bacteria to grow. Our only complaint is the citrus scent, which is pretty overpowering. But at least it’s not the unpleasant smell of a dirty pet!

    To conclude, we think this is the best cat ear cleaner available.

    Pros
    • Prevents bacteria from attaching
    • Anti-odor technology keeps your pet fresh
    • Great for cats with inflamed ear canals
    • Removes debris and wax
    • Dries the ear canal
    Cons
    • The citrus scent is overpowering
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    2. Frisco Cat Ear Cleaner – Best Value

    2Frisco Cat Ear Cleaner

    Not all pet products have to be expensive to be effective, as demonstrated by the Frisco Cat Ear Cleaner. It’s one of the cheapest ear cleaning products we’ve tested, but it’s also one of the best formulas we’ve used with nice additions like aloe vera that conditions while it cleans.

    In this formula, you’ll find salicylic acid, andiroba, and copaiba oils that are all intended to boost ear health. What you won’t find are synthetic fragrances, parabens, or dyes, which are all unhealthy for your cat.

    One of the reasons that we think this is the best cat ear cleaner for the money is that it removes dirt, debris, and earwax in a single application, saving you time and simplifying your life. To be fair, the cats really don’t like this solution, but they didn’t particularly enjoy any of them. Truthfully, you don’t have to enjoy something for it to benefit you, so we can easily get over that.

    Pros
    • Removes dirt, debris, and earwax in a single application
    • Aloe Vera conditions while it cleans
    • Contains salicylic acid, andiroba, and copaiba oils for ear health
    • Contains no synthetic fragrances, parabens, or dyes
    • One of the cheapest solutions
    Cons
    • Cats don’t enjoy it
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    3. MalAcetic Otic Cleanser – Premium Choice

    3MalAcetic Otic Cleanser for Dogs & Cats

    The MalAcetic Otic Cleanser is more expensive than many of the other options we tested, but it’s a natural solution that really works, so we’re willing to pay a bit extra. This formula is antimicrobial to prevent the growth of fungus, yeast, and bacterial infections. It’s also great for helping your pets heal from existing infections.

    One of the benefits of the MalAcetic Otic Cleanser is that it helps to balance the pH of your cat’s skin, making it more difficult for yeast and fungus to return in the future. To do this, it uses a base of acetic and boric acid. Making it all smell nice is the signature apple fragrance, which was a much more pleasant scent than most of the other products we tested.

    Pros
    • Prevents the growth of fungus and yeast
    • Natural solution
    • Antimicrobial
    • Has a nice apple fragrance
    Cons
    • More expensive than other options
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    4. OtiRinse Ear Cleansing/Drying Solution for Dogs & Cats

    4OtiRinse Ear CleansingDrying Solution for Dogs & Cats, 8-oz bottle

    Reasonably priced for the eight ounces you get in a bottle, the OtiRinse Ear Cleansing/Drying Solution is an antiseptic solution that completely dries the ear canal as it works, preventing moisture from accumulating. Simultaneously, the aloe vera included in the formula will soothe your cat’s ears and provide some instant relief.

    This solution is acidifying, allowing it to break up any debris and stubborn earwax in your cat’s ear and dislodge it for easy removal. While it is effective at this task, it’s also got an overwhelming odor that’s far from pleasant. We can look past the stink because of how effective this product is, but other options are just as effective without the putrid stink.

    Pros
    • Aloe vera soothes ears
    • Antiseptic solution ensures the ears dry thoroughly
    • It’s acidifying so it breaks up debris to dislodge it
    Cons
    • The scent is overwhelming and not pleasant
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    5. NaturVet Ear Wash

    5NaturVet Aloe & Baby Powder Scent Dog & Cat Ear Wash

    If your cat needs daily ear cleaning, then a little 4 or 8-ounce bottle probably isn’t going to be enough solution for you, which is why the NaturVet Ear Wash comes in volumes as large as a gallon! You shouldn’t need to repurchase that very often. And considering how much you get, this formula is reasonably priced.

    Overall, we found the NaturVet Ear Wash to be relatively effective. It does dissolve earwax and foreign debris. Unlike other products, this one uses natural tea tree oil for its antimicrobial effects.

    But several issues held this ear cleaner back in our testing. First, the cats hate it, noticeably more than other solutions. Part of this is probably because it leaves the inner ear canal wet. Not only is this likely uncomfortable, but it’s also a hazard since it then becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. But the worst issue is the bright green color that dyes the fur of light-colored pets! This product is not the right choice for any white cats, that’s for sure!

    Pros
    • Comes in sizes up to a gallon
    • Reasonably priced
    • Dissolves earwax and foreign debris
    • Contains antimicrobial tea tree oil
    Cons
    • Cats hate it
    • Leaves the inner ear canal wet
    • Can dye the fur of light-colored pets
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    6. Oxyfresh Cat Ear Cleaner

    6Oxyfresh Dog & Cat Ear Cleaner

    This cat ear cleaner from Oxyfresh is one of the more expensive options we tested. To be fair, the bottle looks nice, but that doesn’t have any bearing on how the product performs.

    The Oxyfresh cleaner neutralizes the bacteria that cause bad odors so your pet can smell fresh. Well, that’s the theory at least. It doesn’t work that well in reality since this product has a strong and unpleasant odor of its own that you’ll be replacing your cat’s ear odor with. Not quite the solution we were hoping for.

    Thankfully, this formula is alcohol-free so it’s easier on sensitive ears. But considering the price and the smell, we’ll keep opting for more affordable solutions that don’t come with the same stink.

    Pros
    • Neutralizes the bacteria that cause odors
    • Alcohol-free formula is easy on sensitive ears
    Cons
    • Strong and unpleasant odor
    • Not the most affordably-priced option
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    7. Sulfodene Ear Cleaner

    7Sulfodene Ear Cleaner Antiseptic for Dogs & Cats

    The Sulfodene Ear Cleaner comes in an easy applicator bottle that makes it quicker to get your cat’s ear cleaning routine done and over with. But it’s not quite as effective as other products we’ve used. This one required several applications to loosen and remove all of the earwax and dirt.

    This ear cleaner helps to reduce the risk of inflammation and infection in your cat’s ears. But if your cat’s ears are already emitting unpleasant odors, you’ll need to look for a different solution because this one doesn’t do anything to combat those odors. In the end, we’d suggest skipping this entirely in favor of a more effective formula that will get rid of those nasty smells.

    Pros
    • Easy applicator bottle
    • Reduces the risk of inflammation and infection
    Cons
    • Didn’t reduce ear odors
    • Not as effective at cleaning as other products
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    8. Tomlyn Veterinarian Formulated Cat Ear Cleaner

    8Tomlyn Veterinarian Formulated Dog & Cat Ear Cleaner

    The Tomlyn Veterinarian Formulated Cat Ear Cleaner begins fighting yeast and bacteria within just 15 seconds of application. Formulated by veterinarians, this solution is great for preventing and healing ear infections, but it’s also good for daily use as part of a normal grooming routine. Once applied, the Tomlyn solution inhibits microbial growth, ensuring that no new problems occur.

    Like most of the solutions we tested, our cats had zero interest in this one. That’s to be expected. But this one also had a terrible odor that was difficult to stomach. Granted, only a few of these solutions had scents that were palatable, but we’ll opt for those ones every time.

    Pros
    • Fights yeast and bacteria
    • Veterinarian formulated
    Cons
    • Leaves an awful smell
    • Our cats didn’t enjoy it
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    9. Pets Are Kids Too Premium Pet Ear Cleaner

    9Pets Are Kids Too Premium Pet Ear Cleaner Solution

    This product from Pets Are Kids Too is marketed as a premium pet ear cleaner, so it’s accompanied by a premium price that’s far more expensive than the competition. Luckily, it contains no harmful chemicals so it’s a good fit for sensitive ears. Still, for the price, we’d rather purchase two bottles of one of the other products and get twice as much.

    We did notice that our cats wanted nothing to do with this ear cleaner. They don’t particularly enjoy any of the ear cleaners, but this bottle sent them running every time. We like that it provides relief from itching and scratching, but there are other products that can do the same for much cheaper.

    Pros
    • Good for sensitive ears since it contains no harmful chemicals
    Cons
    • More expensive than other products
    • Our cats really hated this product
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    10. Zymox Veterinary Strength Cat Ear Cleanser

    10Zymox Veterinary Strength Dog & Cat Ear Cleanser

    The Zymox Cat Ear Cleanser is advertised as being veterinary strength, so it should be strong enough to clean even the dirtiest ears. It’s a plant-based formula that manages to remove dirt and wax without harmful chemicals. In our testing, it did manage to remove a lot of dirt and wax, but other issues prevented it from climbing to a higher position on our list.

    First, this product isn’t for use in irritated ears, which is why many people are getting a cat ear cleaner to begin with. Once we used it, we noticed that there was a greasy film left behind in our cats’ ears. Needless to say, they didn’t seem too pleased by this, and neither were we.

    But that’s not all that was left behind. There was also a terrible scent stuck to our cats that didn’t want to come off. It might be effective at removing dirt and earwax, but we can’t recommend the Zymox Cat Ear Cleanser because of the greasy film and terrible odor it leaves behind.

    Pros
    • Removes dirt and wax without harmful chemicals
    • Plant-based formula
    Cons
    • Not for use in irritated ears
    • Leaves behind a greasy film
    • Has a strong, unpleasant odor
    • Far more expensive than competing products
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    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Cat Ear Cleaning Solutions

    While there are many different products available for cleaning your cat’s ears, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between them. In reality, you’re just looking for an effective product that doesn’t leave behind a terrible scent or dye your cat’s fur. Luckily, as you’ve seen, there are plenty of products that can fulfill this need. But how do you go about cleaning your cat’s ears once you have the product?

    Getting the product is only half the battle. Let’s take a minute to quickly cover how to clean your cat’s ears so that you’re fully prepared once your product arrives.

    How to Clean Your Cat’s Ears

    Cleaning your cat’s ears can be a bit stressful, but if you follow these steps, it shouldn’t be difficult, and it will get easier each time you do it.

    Remember, if your cat’s ears are red, swollen, or overly sensitive, then you should see your vet before cleaning their ears as this might be the sign of an ear infection or even a ruptured eardrum.

    • Step 1: Find a comfortable position to sit while holding your cat in your lap. If your cat is resistant, you might want to try wrapping or swaddling them in a towel or blanket to help keep them calm.
    • Step 2: Pull back the tip of the ear flap so you can see the ear canal. While gently pulling the ear flap, you should see the ear canal straighten out.
    • Step 3: Continue holding your cat’s ear open with one hand while squeezing a small bit of solution into the ear with your other hand. You want to completely fill the ear canal with the solution. It’s ok if some spills out. But make sure you don’t let the tip of the bottle touch your cat’s ear. If it does, make sure to clean the tip with alcohol so you don’t spread bacteria and yeast.
    • Step 4: While continuing to hold the ear flap open with one hand, gently massage the base of the ear with your other hand for about 30 seconds right below the opening of the ear so the solution can begin breaking up the wax, dirt, and debris that’s in the ear canal. As you massage the ear, the solution will start moving deeper into the ear canal and you should hear a squishing sound as it does.
    • Step 5: Keep holding the earflap open and use a cotton ball or piece of gauze in the other hand to gently wipe the inner ear flap and upper ear canal clean.
    • Step 6: Let your cat shake their head to move the remaining solution and debris from the inner canal to the outer ear opening where you can reach it.
    • Step 7: Wipe the outer ear clean again with gauze or a cotton ball. Then, wipe the ear canal clean, going no further than your finger will comfortably reach. Make sure you never use a Q-tip for this as it can push the debris and wax farther into the ear canal and even potentially cause damage.
    • Step 8: Give your cat some praise and treats before repeating the process for the other ear.
    • Remember, if your cat starts to exhibit signs of pain, stop cleaning and consult a vet. 

    cat paw dividerConclusion

    There are many products available to help clean your cat’s ears, but we don’t trust them all equally. Like us, you want to make sure that you’re only using the safest, most effective products on your feline, which is why you took the time to read through our reviews. Since you did, you already know our recommendations, but we’re going to go over them once more so they’re fresh in your mind.

    Our favorite ear cleaner of all was the Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner. Its gentle formula is great for cats with inflamed ear canals and the anti-odor technology keeps your pet smelling fresh. This formula prevents bacteria from attaching while removing debris and wax and leaving the ear canal dry.

    The Frisco Cat Ear Cleaner is one of the most affordable products we tested, but it still effectively removes dirt, debris, and earwax in just one application with aloe vera to condition while it cleans and no synthetic fragrances, parabens, or dyes.

    The MalAcetic Otic Cleanser earned our premium choice recommendation with its natural, antimicrobial formula that prevents the growth of fungus and yeast, leaving behind a pleasant apple fragrance.