Best Swimming Earplugs

Updated October 2021
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.


Buying guide for best swimming earplugs

Swimming isn’t just a great workout; splashing around in a pool can also be lots of fun. Unfortunately, many avid swimmers deal with ear pain and infections from time to time. In particular, there is an outer-ear infection known as swimmer’s ear that people who spend lots of time in the water are prone to get. The best way to keep your ears protected is with a pair of swimming earplugs.

Swimmer’s ear and other infections generally occur because water gets trapped in the ear after swimming and washes away protective ear wax. That makes it easier for bacteria and germs to enter the ear and cause an infection. Swimming earplugs are designed to prevent water from entering the ears and disrupting the delicate balance of wax inside.

You need the right type of earplugs for the job, however, and there are plenty on the market to choose from. In this shopping guide, we’ll show you the differences between putty earplugs and other types, and we’ll help you choose the earplugs that would serve you best in the water.

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Most manufacturers provide written instructions or a video how-to on their website to demonstrate how to place their swimming earplugs in your ears.

Types of swimming earplugs

Silicone putty swimming earplugs

Silicone putty swimming earplugs are moldable plugs that you shape to fit your ear precisely. Some people like them because they offer a better fit than standard earplugs. And because they can be molded over and over again, you don’t have to worry about them losing their shape. Silicone putty earplugs are not easy to keep clean, however; the putty has a slightly tacky surface that can attract dust, dirt, and debris. As a result, this type of earplug must be replaced often.

Silicone or rubber swimming earplugs

These pre-molded earplugs usually have a conical shape that is designed to fit all ears. There may be multiple flanges along the sides to help prevent water from entering the ear. That said, silicone and rubber earplugs do not always offer the snuggest fit. Some users have had issues with this type of earplug falling out while they’re swimming.

Custom-fit swimming earplugs

Custom-fit earplugs may be prescribed by a doctor or another medical professional. A mold of your ear will be taken in order to get the fit just right. Alternatively, you could purchase a do-it-yourself kit that allows you to take your own ear mold and send it back to a company to produce the earplugs.

Usually made of plastic or silicone, custom earplugs are the most expensive option. They hold up well to repeated use, and they wash well, too.

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Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include pain, itchiness, muffled hearing, and fluid or pus in the ear.

Factors to consider

The lifespan of the earplugs

Some earplugs last longer than others. Plastic, standard silicone, and rubber swimming earplugs are usually the most durable because they wash well. If cared for properly, these earplugs can last an entire swimming season.

Moldable silicone earplugs usually don’t last as long. They may lose their moldability over time, and they are harder to keep clean. In some cases, you may only get three to five uses out of them. However, if you care for them properly, moldable silicone earplugs can last for several weeks.

Set vs. individual pair

You can choose to buy a single set of swimming earplugs or a multi-pack. A multi-pack of earplugs may include anywhere from two to ten pair. Moldable silicone putty earplugs and pre-molded earplugs of lower quality typically come in sets because they aren’t expected to last as long. Purchasing a set with multiple pairs can be an excellent value because the cost per pair is kept down.

Swimming earplugs that are sold as a single pair are usually higher in quality and expected to last longer. So, while it may not seem like you’re getting a great value, you theoretically won’t need to buy replacement earplugs as often.

Cord vs. no cord

Because swimming earplugs are small and often clear or translucent in color, it’s easy to lose them. If they fall out while you’re swimming, you might not be able to find them on the bottom of the pool. To help prevent this problem, some swimming earplugs have a cord that connects the two plugs. Made of waterproof material, the cord typically sits at the back of the neck. If one earplug should fall out, it will still be connected to the other with a cord. If both plugs should fall out, they will be easier to spot in the pool thanks to the cord.

Notably, some swimmers find corded earplugs less comfortable to wear. And if you’re a competitive swimmer, you might find that the cord adds to your resistance in the water, slowing you down. An earplug cord can make it more difficult for a swim cap to fit correctly, too.

Sound-blocking capabilities

Swimming earplugs are designed to create a seal that’s tight enough to prevent water from entering your ear. Because of this, many swimming earplugs are also extremely effective at blocking out sound. Some swimmers like having earplugs that block external sound because they’re better able to concentrate on their swimming. However, if you’re a competitive swimmer who wants to be able to hear directions from your coach — or if you’re buying the plugs for a child who needs to be able to hear adults speaking — you may not want a pair of earplugs with sound-blocking capabilities.

To make your choice easier, some manufacturers clearly mark their earplugs with a noise-reduction rating (NRR) that gives you an idea of how effective they are at blocking sound.


Some swimming earplugs come with a case that can help protect them from dirt, dust, and other debris. Having a designated earplug case can also help prevent you from losing one or both of the earplugs when you’re not swimming by giving you a dedicated spot to keep them.

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For your safety
Individuals who have a perforated eardrum should wear earplugs when they go for a swim to prevent infection.

Swimming earplug prices

Swimming earplugs vary tremendously in price. You could pay as little as $3 or as much as $350 for a pair.

The most affordable swimming earplugs are made of silicone putty. They typically come in sets of at least three pairs and cost between $3 and $20.

Mid-range swimming earplugs are pre-molded styles that are made of rubber or silicone. Individual pairs of earplugs usually cost between $4 and $14. Sets of at least two pairs range from $6 to $44.

The most expensive swimming earplugs are customized styles that are purchased either from a medical professional or ordered from a company that processes the mold you take at home. Customized earplugs are sold as individual pairs and usually cost over $100. In fact, you could pay up to $350 for a pair, although the average swimmer does not see a need to do this.

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Expert Tip
Avoid foam earplugs for swimming; this material isn’t effective at keeping water out of the ears.


  • Most swimming earplugs are fairly affordable. You may want to experiment with a few different types to see which material and style suits you best. When evaluating a pair of swimming earplugs, pay attention to how they feel and how well they block your ears.
  • No matter what type of swimming earplugs you choose, be careful not to push them too deeply into your ears. Doing so could cause injury to your ear canal.
  • If you have trouble with your swimming earplugs coming loose while you swim, try wearing a swim cap and pulling it own over your ears. In some instances, this can help keep the plugs in place.
  • Rinse your swimming earplugs after each use to remove any dirt and chlorine residue. Allow them to air dry thoroughly to prevent mildew growth.

Other products we considered

With so many swimming earplugs to choose from, you should have no trouble finding a pair that fits your swimming routine. The Heqishun Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs are an ideal option if you prefer putty-style earplugs that mold to your ear canal. The pack contains 24 pairs — a great value — and they’re non-allergenic, so even swimmers with sensitive skin can use them.

We also like the Junhua Reusable Silicone Waterproof Earplugs because they’re made of soft silicone that’s very comfortable to wear. A waterproof cord connects these earplugs, so you’re less likely to misplace them.

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Children and teens are especially prone to swimmer’s ear, a condition that may be prevented by wearing watertight swimming earplugs.


Q. How do I put in swimming earplugs?
If you’re using moldable earplugs, gently press them into your ears, allowing them to mold to your shape. If you’re using pre-molded or custom earplugs, gently push them into your ear the same way you would a pair of earbuds. Don’t push too hard, or you could injure your eardrum.

Q. Can I wash my swimming earplugs?
Pre-molded and custom earplugs can be washed with warm, soapy water using a clean towel or a small, soft-bristled brush. Rinse them thoroughly, and allow them to dry completely before returning them to their case or another storage container. Washing moldable earplugs usually isn’t recommended, so check the included instructions to see if you can wash them.

Q. Can I use swimming earplugs for diving?
Some swimming earplugs are appropriate for diving, but it depends on how deep you plan to dive. Check the product specifications for the earplugs you’re considering to see how deep you can dive with them before the pressure affects both their ability to keep water out and feel comfortable in your ears.

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