Introduction: Vacuum Removal of Object Stuck in Child's Nose

Picture of Vacuum Removal of Object Stuck in Child's Nose

My kids seem to have this issue with sticking things in their noses. It's kind of scary at first, but it's not life-threatening. Here are some common methods used for removing an object stuck in the nose:

  • Plug the opposite nostril, close mouth, and have child blow out the nostril that has the foreign object in it
  • Induce a sneeze to more forcefully blow it out (with pepper or some other method that works)
  • Delicately grab the object with tweezers (but don't make things worse by shoving it in further)

Unfortunately, if your child jams something way up into his or her nose or just won't sit still enough, these methods might not work. You may need to go to a doctor, and possibly to an ear, nose and throat specialist. Smaller kids can be physically restrained well enough so the doctor can work, but often bigger kids cannot. At worst, if your child can't remain still enough he may need to be sedated so the doctor can get in there with his or her tools to get whatever it is, out.

Recently, our two year-old stuck a LEGO man's arm into his nose. We tried all the regular methods as best we could (with a squirmy, crying child), with no luck. I decided to try something new and perhaps save a lot of trauma, time, and money. I got out the shop vacuum, and with a quick nozzle modification, we sucked that Lego man's arm out of my kid's nose lickety-split!

Now, be sure to read ALL the steps before you condemn me as a terrible, irresponsible parent.... and if you ever try something like this... blah, blah, blah, use common sense, blah, blah, blah.

Step 1: Get the Vacuum

Picture of Get the Vacuum

My shop vacuum was handy, so that's what I used.

Step 2: Modify the Nozzle at the End of the Hose

Picture of Modify the Nozzle at the End of the Hose

I taped the tube section of a Bic-style pen into the nozzle opening, making sure to tape it well enough to seal up the end of the nozzle so all the suction was focused at the tip of the pen.

Step 3: Remove Object With Suction (hopefully)

Picture of Remove Object With Suction (hopefully)

I was slightly concerned that the tiny nozzle might grab some skin, so I held the pen tip as shown in the photo.

I did not insert the pen into my child's nose! 

With the vacuum turned on, I carefully held the tip of the pen right next to my son's nostril and the offending Lego arm popped right out!

Crisis averted, hospital avoided... Another successful day in parenting!


Yomiko (author)2010-03-19

I find it interesting that so many people freak out over the idea of suction being used, but guess what the ER uses... suction!
My daughter (about 5 years old at the time) squished down a foam bead and shoved it up her nose. I tried making her blow, tweezers, pushing down on her nostril, nothing worked (I didn't know about the plug-and-blow method!). Children's ER tried the same things, had one person pushing it down, having her blow AND suction to finally get it out! The resident helping asked her why she shoved it up her nose. She looked at him and with a completely serious face, responded "because I tried to put it in my ear but it wouldn't fit!"

seamster (author)Yomiko2010-03-19

My wife and I both laughed out loud when we read your daughter's response. That's pretty funny stuff.

I'm certain that most people who complain about stuff like this don't have real children. (They most likely have chihuahuas in little sweaters that they carry around in giant purses.)

Talonj (author)seamster2016-01-16

Please help I know this is stupid but I snorted pills, now I have an ED and I had a stroke.
Please help I need real help without docters!

LiveCrafts (author)Yomiko2015-08-17

Nah, the ER uses medical super glue. I should know.....

Kallie0704 (author)2016-09-27

Although this thread is older, the comments are so entertaining!! The flexable straw idea, awesome! I dont know about everyone, but the last thing I want to do is go to the ER, especially with a child. That just screams " let's turn this more traumatic" up a couple more notches. Glad to know there are innovative people still around

AliciaH50 (author)2016-07-19

SO GLAD I JUST FOUND THIS THREAD!!! My son stuck a bead in his nose last night and his new insurance doesn't kick in until September. So, going to try this today!!!

chilihook (author)2016-07-18

Wish I'd read this a month ago when my son get a small Lego brick stuck up his nose! Favoriting this and moving it to the front of my queue till he's 15.

Jemiba1985 (author)2016-07-08

This is the most effective way to get something out of your toddlers nose. My 2 year old stuck a pecan longer than my pinkie nail and it was very very deep inside and i could hardly see it. I was about to vacuum it out when the phone rang and my husband told me to close the nostril that has nothing inside and give a big blow with my mouth to my baby's mouth, kinda like CPR but one BIG blow. I did it and in less than a second, the pecan came out. I was surprised at the size of the pecan stuck in there. I really feel so bad that i thought it was probably tiny and it would probably come out on its own, thank God for that method

eodb.ondabeats (author)2015-03-31

Will a house hold vac work too?

For bb in ear

Did u ever come up with an answer fir BB in ear?

Go to a doctor.

seamster (author)eodb.ondabeats2015-04-01

I am not a doctor, so I can't say for sure. But I personally would NOT try this with anything stuck in an ear.

The way the passageways work with nose and mouth means there's air behind a very loosely stuck item . . . but with the ear it's a different issue. I'd be highly concerned about the suction rupturing the ear drum or causing other serious damage.

Just my thoughts . . . bur for an ear issue, I'd suggest just going to a doctor.

CarlaT6 made it! (author)2015-11-27

So glad for this info!! Just saved us a trip to the ER!! My granddaughter stuck a bead up her nose. The kids tried the "mother's kiss" method and it would not work. As they worked, I was searching for information and found this article. I took a picture of your pictures and texted them the info. It worked!! Popped right out!! My granddaughter is just 2, but I bet she doesn't ever do that again!!! Thanks for the great info!!

seamster (author)CarlaT62015-11-27

That is excellent news!

Glad to hear you found this and it worked for you. It's pretty scary when a little kid gets something stuck in their nose. And it's a huge relief when you save the day and don't have to go to the ER! :)

jeff-o (author)2010-03-02

Oh, why didn't you publish this two months ago?  My daughter stuck a plastic bead up her nose, and it took a trip to E.R. to get it out.  In the end, the doctor sprayed a numbing agent into her nose, then scooped it out with what was basically a tiny spoon.  My daughter was thrashing like a wild animal the whole time; it took quite a bit of strength (physical and emotional) to hold her down.  I'm glad it was me in there and not my wife; she would have been a wreck!

Hopefully I shall never have to use this instructable.  But I will surely remember it in case I do!

seamster (author)jeff-o2010-03-02

I agree--it's an awful, traumatic experience to have to hold your child down, even when it is or their own good!

spooky1300 (author)seamster2010-03-02

 In the old days in Philippines, we don't use any vacuum, we just use our mouth to suck the thing out of the children nose, after all, they are your children, nothing to gross about.

seamster (author)spooky13002010-03-02

That's true--that is another way to do it. We actually tried it with our oldest child when he stuck an airsoft BB in his nose about a year ago. But it didn't work. We eventually had to go to the hospital.

LiveCrafts (author)seamster2015-09-20

A BB? Alright then, new safety lesson!

Feeling your pain. I had to hold down RavingChild a few years back so the ER doctor could remove a twig from his ear canal. It was horrible.

Nikongirl (author)jeff-o2010-03-15

Yes I was a wreck when my daughter was about 20 months old she fell on the pools entry step and smacked her chin on side of pool.  She hardly cried other than when held pressure on it.  But the it took 2 nurses and her dad to hold her down while the Dr. stitched her up with a whooping 25 stitches he estimated.  A ton for such a small tear that wasn't quite an inch even. LOL  I guess he thought she's a girl and face scars will make a huge difference to her.  But the point is yeah I'd rather not hold down a toddler that is screaming and crying.

artquilter (author)jeff-o2010-03-08

Sometimes SOME children will be calmer when the parents are not in the room.

jeff-o (author)artquilter2010-03-08

Not mine!  ;)

pressiveinst (author)2012-07-14

Wow! I will say this only once... THIS IS DANGEROUS!!! DON'T EVER TRY THIS! EVER!! Your nose cavity is super fragile!! You can hurt your child very hard with this!!! I REPEAT!! DON'T TRY THIS!!!

seamster (author)pressiveinst2012-07-14

Too late!

LiveCrafts (author)seamster2015-09-20


JosephC18 (author)2015-07-01

I had to remove a small Lego piece from my son's nose. The way I did it is pretty similar to the instructable except I didn't use a vacuum. I got a pen and open up both end and suck it out. I just used my mouth. It might be a little gross, but he is my son. So just try to suck it out like a straw. Thanks for the idea of sucking it out.

UmmiOfTwo (author)2015-06-09

Tq for the good 3 year old daughter shoved a little lego up her left nostril, and told me about it after her a lil panic since it's my 1st time in this my phone, googled for steps, and came across ur solution...did it, and it worked!! Tx again! No need to go to the doctors...phewwww!!! ???

RKanis (author)2015-05-31

It worked! We found that the small tip from our air mattress pump fit perfectly on the end of our OreeckXL canister vac's hose. Worked like a charm to get the bead out! Crisis averted! Thanks!

seamster (author)RKanis2015-05-31

Excellent! Glad it worked!

jeffery.m.silva (author)2014-09-03

OMG Parents don't do this! It sucked all the lungs and guts out of my kid... just kidding, it worked great. Thanks! I opted to use a straw with the flexible end. I think it is funny those people who think this is extremely dangerous... is that what they think is going to happen... your going to collapse a lung or something? Please remember the kids also have a mouth and other nostril... air will be sucked from those places not the lungs for crying out loud. For those of you think you are putting high powered suction in delicate places, here is a little law of physics... the smaller passage way acts as an inhibitor to the amount of air going through the passage way, hence limiting the force of the suction. In other words it is just barely the right amount of suction to do the job. If you have an air tight vacuum then it is possible to create higher velocity suctions, but clearly that would not be the best idea. I found using the straw is a great idea because it is extra flexible and should the air flow increase too much the straw would collapse on itself and it made it easier to navigate.

seamster (author)jeffery.m.silva2014-09-03

Nice, thank you for the thoughtful comment.

At first glance I was thinking "oh great, another one of these!" I was pleasantly surprised as I continued reading. Glad it worked well for you! I love the straw idea, I'll do that if we ever have to employ this method again.

eodb.ondabeats (author)seamster2015-03-31

Do it work with house hold vac with bb in ear?

Brosewog (author)2015-02-28

Just used my Miele vacuum with a straw taped to it to suck a ball of tape out of my sons nose and it worked like a charm! He was so uncomfortable and now he is so happy that we get it out. We were perplexed what to do until I found your post. Thank you! So glad we didn't have to go to the ER.

ekiessling (author)2015-01-29

You have the most beautiful child I have ever seen. Beautiful colouring. ? Some of the comments on your post are silly. You guys did right with the hose. These days going to the ER could bring you in contact with deadly viruses. Let common sense rule.

cdstudioNH (author)2014-09-15

I did it! And I entered it into the Remix contest, naturally. : D

cdstudioNH (author)2014-09-05

This is one of my faves. I feel a remix coming on....

henryd106 (author)2014-07-09

Hey, seamster! We made this before we even saw your instrucable, which is amazing by the way, except we used it to clean that annoying dust stuff from a puzzle! Tip for puzzlers, just place the tiny nozzle on top of your puzzle, no pieces lost!

clawrence13 (author)2014-02-23

Awsome!! My type of dad.

sonyadaily (author)2014-01-16

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! You saved us a trip to the Doctor and a lot of worry. My son stuck a piece of foam cushioning into his nose. It was black and we couldn't even figure out if the event had happened or not.We tried pepper & blowing, but landed up sleeping on it coz I was pretty sure it was not there. After he he woke in the night with the definitely blocked right nostril we spent a sleepless night ans I tried this first thing in the morning before taking him to the doctor. Once I demonstrated it on my own nose, he sat quietly and let me try it on him. 5 min later I see a ball of snot with this round black thing popping out!! I'm filing this under worked and must know for parents. Hopefully I won't have to use this again. Thanks a bunch!

seamster (author)sonyadaily2014-01-16

Awesome! I'm glad it worked for you and your son is okay.

parisusa (author)2013-09-15

Great idea...I don't believe it's dangerous...a vacuum won't suck the brains out of someone! For centuries+ humans lived without Emergency Rooms & hundreds of dollars in insurance co-payments. I brought my son to the ER for a broken piece of toy cheese stuck in his ear! Wish I'd seen this first!

aacreech (author)2013-02-14

I am so grateful for you. My niece had a small foam ball from a bean bag chair. At first she came in to the room and thought she had a buggy. So her dad tried to remove it, sure enough there was one in her nose but it wasn't what was bothering her. So when she kept crying like it was bothering her my sister took her to the bathroom to get a closer look. And you could see the ball. So immediately my sister wanted to jump up and start getting ready to go to the ER. But first she wanted to calm my niece, because it wasn't blocking anything she just went off our panic and the fact that something was in her nose and she couldn't get it out. So while she was being calmed I Googled a question. I saw your answer and I told my sister we should try this. So we did just what you said and the ball came right out. I am glad that you chose to share your your story because my niece is happy and items are free from her nose (for now anyway) and we didn't have to go the hospital. Thank you so much!!!

seamster (author)aacreech2013-02-15

I'm glad it worked for you!

Reivenne (author)2013-02-06

...This is just plain dangerous. I don't care that it "worked for you" or you "tried it up against your own nose"... You're putting a high suction device near your child's extremely delicate nasal cavity and eyes. THINK, PEOPLE.

seamster (author)Reivenne2013-02-07

You don't have any kids, do you?

twilight21 (author)2012-12-09

my Lil sis got a bead stuck in her nose and  the way i got it out is by pressing on her nose and it poped out

parentagain (author)2011-11-05

11 YR put air-soft bb up nose. Tried to get it out with Q-tip and pushed it up higher. Tried to blow through the one nostrial, air would go through but bb would not budge. I read this column and tried it by getting a large diameter flexable straw fitted to the shop vac. Tested on me first. Had 11YR plug other nostrial and blow hard while held straw to just inside opening of bb nostrial..
Third hard blow and thump, we heard it go through the straw; it came out. Saved me a $100 co pay and spending all night at the ER.
I was lucky -- this as last resort before the ER.

i'm from England and find the idea of it saving you money odd (NHS FTW)

About This Instructable




Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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