You don’t (as long as you’re able-bodied) go to the doctor for a shower, and you don’t go to the dentist to brush your teeth. So there’s no reason to go to a professional to get your ears cleaned, right?

Maybe not. It turns out that there are quite a few good reasons to get your ears cleaned by a professional. Here are a few:

1. You can’t look into your own ear

Not easily, anyway. You can get up close to a mirror, to see your ears, but not the way an audiologist can. A professional, who’s equipped with a type of light specially made for ear cleaning is the ideal way to approach the task. Professionals know that proper cleaning is much more of a visual exercise than you might think, and they can examine the debris in your ears for signs of more serious issues.

2. The professionals have tools you don’t

As mentioned above, professionals have special tools for ear cleaning. Professionals often use instruments to implement a procedure known as water lavage. This procedure flushes out the deeply-seated debris that normal tools can’t. One of these instruments is a waterpik, where the professional can increase or decrease the pressure, and utilize the right combination of water and hydrogen peroxide for the job.

3. The professionals can see what’s normal

And not. Some types of ear blockages, especially if the debris in your ear is dry, cannot be instantly removed, but need to be broken down over the course of some days by eardrops. Your professional will know the proper type of eardrop to prescribe you (or direct you to buy over-the-counter), how much and how often it needs to be administered. Diagnosing your own treatment is a risky idea, and could cause more problems down the road.

4. Experiencing pain

Pain might mean you have a perforated eardrum. Eardrumdrum perforations change a lot of the normal courses of action in ear cleaning. Typical at-home cleaning methods are ill-advised or even dangerous for people with perforations. It is best to see an audiologist for ear cleaning, and best to do so regularly. The audiologist can clean your ears the proper way, using procedures that won’t compound your condition.