Facebook Pixel Code
 

Best Earplugs

Updated October 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 25 Models Considered
  • 8 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 165 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best earplugs

    Last Updated October 2018

    Any light sleeper knows just how annoying even the softest noise can be when you’re trying to doze off. If you live in a busy neighborhood or have a partner who snores, getting a good night’s sleep can seem impossible. That’s where earplugs can help. Earplugs can block out a wide range of noises and enable you to catch some much-needed z’s.

    If you want to rest undisturbed or protect your ears from loud noises, it all comes down to choosing the right earplugs. That means selecting the right material, decibel rating, and fit to make sure that the plugs effectively block out sounds. With so many earplug options on the market, it can get confusing.

    BestReviews is here to help make your shopping a little easier. We provide the facts you need to choose the best items for your home, and we make specific recommendations so you can have total confidence in your shopping decisions.

    If you’re looking for the perfect earplugs, check out our top picks in the matrix above. If you’re interested in general help choosing earplugs, our shopping guide has plenty of helpful tips.

    To make sure that your earplugs fit properly, yawn, talk, and chew to move your jaw around. Those movements can sometimes make a comfortable pair of earplugs suddenly painful, so it’s important to test them.

    Why use earplugs?

    There are many situations in which a good pair of earplugs can help block out noise and/or protect your ears from particularly loud noises.

    Sleeping

    Many people have trouble sleeping because of noise. If you live in a noisy building, on a street with heavy traffic, or in a dorm, or you have a partner who snores, earplugs can help you get a good night’s rest. Earplugs are also a good option for individuals who work at night and sleep during the day.

    Working

    Whether you work in a noisy office or you’re a student trying to study in a busy dorm, earplugs can help you block out distractions so you can focus on the work you need to do.

    Using equipment

    If your job requires you to use power tools, lawn equipment, or other noisy appliances, or you use them around the house, earplugs can help protect your ears and prevent hearing loss.

    Hunting/shooting

    If you’re a hunter or regularly go target shooting, earplugs help protect your hearing from loud gunfire.

    Listening to music

    Whether you’re a musician who regularly practices and performs or a concert-goer with really good seats, your hearing can easily be compromised by loud amplified music. Earplugs can help prevent hearing loss.

    Swimming

    If you swim regularly, earplugs can keep water out of your ears and help prevent infection.

    Flying

    Traveling by air can cause pressure to build up in your ears with changes in cabin pressure. Earplugs can help keep your ears from popping or hurting when you fly.

    Comfortable and effective

    These silky soft, contoured earplugs fit comfortably even while sleeping. And with a decibel rating of 33, their performance is top-notch. Whether you want to get a peaceful night’s sleep, enjoy live music, or concentrate in a noisy office, the Hearos Xtreme earplugs are all you need.

    Types of earplugs

    Noise-reducing

    Noise-reducing earplugs provide protection against dangerously loud noises, usually over 85 decibels (noises that prevent you from hearing normal speech).

    Sleeping

    Sleeping earplugs are designed to be worn overnight to help you get a good night’s sleep by blocking out snoring, traffic, commotion from neighbors, or other sounds over 30 decibels. Because they’re meant to wear for a longer period of time, these are usually more comfortable than other types of earplugs.

    Swimming

    Swimming earplugs prevent water from getting into your ear canal when you’re in the water, so you’re less likely to develop an ear infection. These earplugs can also help block the wind, making them an effective option for activities like surfing, sailing, and kayaking.

    Musician

    Earplugs for musicians are designed to protect individuals who are around loud music on a regular basis. These earplugs don’t fully block noise but soften it so you don’t have to worry about hearing loss. Musician earplugs usually come at several different noise reduction ratings (NRR).

    • NRR 10 decibels: These work well for softer music, such as acoustic guitar, violins, or other stringed instruments.

    • NRR 15 decibels: These work well for many instruments and are suitable for all types of bands.

    • NRR 20 decibels: These provide effective, high-level protection for nearly any music environment.

    • NRR 25 decibels: These are the strongest option for softening but not blocking music completely. They work best for individuals who are exposed to very loud music for prolonged periods of time.
    EXPERT TIP

    For children who experience chronic ear infections, it’s a good idea to buy swimming earplugs before taking them to the pool or beach.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Wearing earplugs when you ride a motorcycle can protect your ears from road sounds, as well as the sound of the motorcycle engine.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Earplug features to consider

    Material

    Earplugs are usually made of foam or silicone. Both materials can be very effective, but one option may be better for you based on your needs.

    Foam earplugs

    • Available in many sizes for comfortable fit

    • Block sound effectively

    • Decibel rating of 30 dB or above

    • Easy to use

    • Unlikely to fall out

    • Can be itchy if worn for long periods

    • Not very durable (one-time use)

    • Less expensive than silicone
       

    Silicone earplugs

    • Softer than foam

    • Less effective at blocking noise than foam

    • Lower decibel rating than foam

    • Less likely to hurt the ear canal

    • Antibacterial (some brands)

    • Moldable for better fit

    • Can sometimes fall out

    • Unlikely to irritate skin

    • More durable (can be reused)

    • More expensive than foam

    Durability

    Some earplugs hold up well to repeated use and can last through several uses. Others are meant to be disposable, which means you should throw them away after you use them once. Silicone plugs are usually more durable than foam. It’s important to clean silicone earplugs regularly because the wax from your ears can cause the silicone to break down.

    Doctor-recommended protection

    Mack’s super-soft foam earplugs provide the ultimate in comfort and hearing protection, with a decibel rating of 32 that covers a wide range of applications. There’s a reason doctors recommend these earplugs over all the others.

    Comfort and fit

    Earplugs should fit comfortably in your ear. You want them to be tight enough that they don’t fall out but not so tight as to put pressure on your eardrum. Most earplugs have some type of contoured tip to help them fit more securely in the ear. If your ears and skin are particularly sensitive, silicone earplugs are softer than foam and may be more comfortable for you.

    Foam earplugs are self-adjusting, which means that the foam expands inside your ears for a secure fit.

    If you have trouble with earplugs staying in your ears, look for pairs that come in specific sizes, such as small, medium, and large. This can help make sure that the earplugs sit well in your ears without slipping loose. If your earplugs feel uncomfortable, it can be a sign that they’re too big or small for your ear canal.

    Decibel rating

    Earplugs are rated with the decibel level protection they provide – most pairs intended for sleeping are rated for 30- to 40-decibel protection. In order to choose the right pair for your needs, it helps to have an idea of the decibel level of certain noises.

    • 50 decibels: Conversation

    • 100 decibels: Lawn mower, jackhammer, garbage truck

    • 110 decibels: Live music

    • 120 decibels: Chainsaw, thunder

    Quantity

    Most earplugs are sold in bulk, not by the pair. You can find sets that include anywhere from two to a few hundred pairs – the number typically depends on the durability of the plugs. Disposable earplugs come in packages with more pairs because you should throw them out after each use. In most cases, you’ll get the best value by choosing the larger packages with more pairs.

    CAUTION

    Regular exposure to extremely loud noises can damage the nerve endings in the inner ear, causing hearing loss.

    Earplug prices

    Earplugs vary in price based mainly on the material used, as well as how many pairs are included in the set. In most cases, you can expect to pay between $4 and $30.

    Soft foam earplugs are the most budget-friendly option, ranging from $4 to $19. For approximately 10 to 50 pairs, you’ll usually pay between $4 and $10. For 100 to 200 pairs, you’ll usually pay between $10 and $20.

    Silicone earplugs are more costly, and the packages usually don’t include as many pairs as foam options. For three to six pairs, you’ll usually pay $6 to $15. For 10 to 15 pairs, you’ll usually pay $15 to $30. However, some higher-quality silicone earplugs cost as much as $19 for a single pair.

    Most earplugs can reduce noise levels by 15 to 30 decibels.

    FAQ

    Q. Are earplugs safe?

    A. While earplugs are typically used to protect your ears, it’s important to use them properly. Take care not to push them too far into your ears or you may damage your ear canal. Foam earplugs don’t allow ear wax to flow out of your ear, so the wax can become impacted and cause an infection. If you plan to use earplugs long term, a silicone pair is your best bet.

    Q. How do I know what size earplugs to choose?

    A. Most earplugs are one size fits all because they’re self-expanding or moldable to fit a wide range of ears comfortably. However, there are some brands of earplugs in small, medium, and large sizes, so it’s often a matter of trial and error to discover which option works best for your ears. Keep in mind that most earplugs are sized for men’s ears, so women usually do better with small or medium sizes.

    Q. How should I clean my earplugs?

    A. It’s important to clean reusable earplugs regularly because wax, bacteria, and other debris can build up on the surface and cause an infection. Foam earplugs should be thrown away after each use, but silicone earplugs can be cleaned with mild soap and water and an old toothbrush.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

    BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
    and give us feedback about your visit today.

    Take Survey