A new study finds a direct link.
The good news is it also found that almost all cases of ruptured eardrums healed without surgery.
But doctors say that is no reason to get complacent about how you clean your ears.
More than half of people who visit ear, nose and throat doctors confess to using swabs, but the practice can damage the ear if people push them in too far.
Ruptured eardrums can lead to other problems. Patients should see a doctor immediately to assess possible ear damage if that occurs.