Fortunately, none of my current dogs have had any ear issues and I haven't had to think about cleaning their ears much. Occasionally, I take a damp washcloth and swipe their ears but I haven't had to do any hardcore ear cleaning in a long time. I know other dog owners aren't as lucky! Some breeds are more prone to ear problems than others and other dogs develop ear problems just in the summer months due to increased water play. My recently deceased chocolate lab Scooby loved playing in the water when he was young and at times did develop ear problems. I fortunately had a veterinarian that was willing to show me the proper way to clean my dog's ears and how to know when to bring him to the vet and when to deal with it myself.....if there were only more vets like that! Obviously, if your dog has an actual infection, you will need to treat it with antibiotics from your veterinarian, but if you are just looking for simple everyday ways to clean your dog's ears and keep him from developing an infection, here are some tips and resources.
Over at the Daily Puppy, they have a wonderful step-by-step guide on how to clean dog's ears with vinegar and water. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully!!!! OR visit the ASPCA website to watch a video on cleaning your dog's ears AND use their warning signs list to help you decide if your dog needs to see a vet. I also recommend talking to your vet about natural ways to clean your dog's ears, the method you plan to use, and how often you plan to inspect and clean your dog's ears. All dogs are different, and when it comes to ear cleaning, there is not a one size fits all, so talk to your vet before trying anything at home.
In my personal experience, all my current dogs have floppy ears and no hair that grows in them, so I inspect them regularly and usually only need to swipe with a washcloth. My in-laws however have a small dog that has to have her ear hair trimmed regularly, and they have to watch her ears more closely for possible ear infections. I have learned to NEVER use cotton swabs or go down into the dog's ear with anything! You should only ever clean the outer part of the ear and if you think there is something inside the ear, see a veterinarian. Personally, I would just be honest with your vet that you want to use natural ways to clean your dog's ears, and if they won't help you determine the best natural ways to clean your dog's ears, find a new trustworthy vet that will!