Flip the ear over and examine the inside. It should be clean and pink. If it is red and hot, or if you spot dark discharge, do not proceed because your dog may have an ear infection.
Cleaning an infected ear can be extremely painful and may even spread infection. Instead, see your vet.
If the ear is clear, use gauze, cotton balls or a soft cloth to clean it inside. Do not use cotton swabs as they may damage the ear canal. Hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil, warm water or a cleaning solution recommended by your vet may be applied to the gauze. Wrap the moistened gauze around your finger and gently wipe out any visible dirt.