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I use diluted rubbing alcohol (it dries quickly) and cotton balls and q-tips.

Use the cotton ball on your finger and sweep it into the ear. Use the q-tips for around the folds (depends on the breed...my lab has hiding places in her ears). Do NOT put anything down the ear canal. I also do not pour it into her ear as I do NOT want to be wearing alcohol and stinky dog ear wax.
 

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Our vet recommended we use vinegar & water - 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water on a cotton ball. I repeat the process until the cotton ball comes out clean, usually about 3x.
 
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