Our hearing is one of our most precious senses. The world is a place filled with noises that degrade our audio sensitivity over time. From traveling to work to flying or even in our private lives, we often experience levels of noise that may be hazardous. So, the question becomes, how can you protect your hearing? One solution is to choose the best earplugs for noise filtering and reduction possible.
When choosing the best earplugs for you, look for ones that will fit your ear snuggly. They should block your ear canal and, depending on the type, will eliminate some or nearly all undesired sound. Aesthetically, they should be discreet while protecting your ears from the impact of loud audio. This article will look at some of the best earplugs on the market. We hope our research makes your search a little easier.
1. What Are Earplugs?
Earplugs are devices you can put into your ears to protect them from the impact of loud noises. They are also useful for keeping water, dust, wind, and debris from entering the ear. Many people use them to help achieve a sounder sleep, whilst others use them to help prevent hearing loss.
2. Why Use Ear Plugs?
Loud noise can damage or destroy your ear's inner nerve endings. When the nerve endings are compromised, it causes hearing loss or ringing in the ears, called tinnitus. Most often, earplugs are used to reduce or cancel out noise. Although they cannot eliminate all sound, they are useful tools for helping to prevent hearing loss. The best earplugs are effective because they can reduce sound by 15 to 30 decibels.
Outside of hearing protection, elevated noise levels can increase adrenaline levels and stress. Those effects can interfere with your sleep patterns or even contribute to the elevation of your blood pressure. Using earplugs can help to create a more relaxing environment conducive to rest and relaxation.
3. When Should I Use Earplugs?
You should use earplugs when you will be in an environment that will have a hazardous level of sound. They should also be used when you will be exposed to loud sound for a prolonged period of time. The best way to determine if the sound level is so loud you will need earplugs, is if you need to raise your voice or yell to be heard when speaking. If so, the sound level could be damaging.
Concerts, music studios, and workplaces with loud machinery are ideal places to wear earplugs. If you have a partner that snores or live in an area with high traffic, your sleep may benefit from incorporating earplugs into your regimen too. In fact, any place sound reduction would make you more comfortable is an appropriate place to wear earplugs.
4. What Types of Ear Plugs Are There?
There four main types of earplugs available defined by how they fit. Foam earplugs are normally fashioned from PVC or memory foam. They are rolled and placed into your ear canal and expand for a custom fit. Wax earplugs are also rolled, but they do not self expand. They are molded to cover the external portion of the ear that leads to the ear canal.
Flanged silicone earplugs are sort of a one size fits all earplug. Flanged earplugs are the best earplugs for people who want to let more sound reach their ears. Custom-molded earplugs are designed to fit perfectly to the wearer's ear. The best earplugs for you will depend on the environment's conditions and what sound you are using them to filter.
5. How So Earplugs Work?
In order to explain how earplugs protect your hearing, we have to discuss how your ears receive sound. Sound moves through the air in waves. The waves are able to travel through many mediums like glass, water, metal, or even the bones of your face. Once the sound waves reach your eardrums, they cause the drums to vibrate. Those vibrations are what we call sound.
The best earplugs are able to block most of the sound waves and keep them from reaching your eardrums. They do not eliminate all sound because the bones in your head still react to the waves and, by way of the bones, your eardrums. The earplugs you choose should be based on how much sound you want or need to hear and the level of sound in your environment.
6. What Are Noise Reduction Ratings?
One of the things to consider when looking for the best earplugs is their noise reduction rating. The noise reduction ratings for earplugs are internationally regulated. In the United States, EPA regulations mandate noise reduction ratings be posted. The ratings are charted in decibels. That said, a more accurate rating is the OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and NIOSH, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, rating system.
7. Are Earplugs Safe?
Earplugs are safe as long as they are used properly. They should not be pushed too far into your ears or you risk rupturing or damaging your eardrums. Also, foam earplugs can obstruct outward flow of your earwax and possibly lead to infection with excessive use. Silicone is the best earplug choice for those who need to use them long term.
8. What Size Earplugs Should I Choose?
Most types of earplugs have a universal sizing. Since many are moldable or self-expanding, you get a somewhat custom fit every time. That said, there are sizing options for some brands like small, medium, or large. There is no way to know what size is best without trying them. That said, earplugs are overwhelmingly designed for men's ears. Where multiple sizes are available, women should choose the smaller sizes.
9. How Should I Clean My Earplugs?
If you choose to reuse your earplugs, it is important to clean them. Wax, bacteria, and other debris can build up on your earplugs and can lead to infection if not removed before each use. Silicone earplugs can be cleaned with mild soap and water, however foam earplugs should never be reused.
How We Reviewed
To find the best earplugs, we reviewed our featured products based on the following parameters, Features, Pros & Cons, Price, Where to Buy, and Warranty. We also considered the wear they provide and level of comfort. For models designed to let some sound through, we assessed sound clarity and penetration. Those models suited for nighttime use were judged on their sleep comfort and fit.
Overall Price Range
Earplugs are useful items that will not break the bank. They are normally sold in bulk, 50 to 200 pieces at a time. Depending on the amount, type, quality, and noise reduction, rating costs will vary. The least expensive models sell for about 20 cents a pair. They will normally be your foam models. Silicone and flanged reusable models are slightly more expensive at 70 to 80 cents a pair.
What We Reviewed
The Moldex Pura-Fit are impressive earplugs that often outperform other earplugs with higher NRR ratings. They are not extremely dense, but they still do well at blocking out sound. We also like that they have a longer length. Typically, even the best earplugs come loose, however, these have a very secure fit. We also appreciate that these are reusable, and they come conveniently wrapped in pairs. While these earplugs are ideal for people who use earplugs when they sleep, they are still a highly versatile choice.
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Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs are ideal for long-term wear. They are made of an easy to clean silicone putty. We feel these are a perfect example of the oldest earplug technology winning out over plastic models and extravagant filters. That said, they are a bit difficult to install, but that is a small price to pay for their ultimate comfort.
If you dislike having anything sitting in your ear canal, these will be the best earplugs for you. For those who find the stems on flanged earplugs uncomfortable, these are an alternative. They lack any parts that will poke or irritate your ear. It is their extreme gentleness that makes us feel they are effective for people with sensitive ears. They also have a lowered feeling of pressure and suction than putty or foam earplugs.
- Includes: 1 pair standard fit ETY Plugs with blue tips, neck cord, and carrying case
- Replicates the natural response of the ear, so sound quality is the same as the original, only quieter. Music and speech...
- Reduces risk of hearing damage from loud noise such as concerts, theatres, airshows, parades, athletic and motorsports...
The Etymotic Research ETY-Plugs is one of the best set of earplugs on the market because they are a flanged earplug with optimal comfort. Equally important is the quality of sound they let through. They open up clearer mids and highs than with foam plugs. If you find the boomy lows and muffled sounds of foam bothersome, these plugs are a good option.
What we like about these earplugs is they provide a very natural sound. They essentially are like a volume knob. The earplugs are capable of turning down the overall sound of your environment while still letting all sound through. One problem you may have is a slight oscillation effect if you find the plugs fit is too large.
HEAROS is one of the most respected names in earplug manufacturing. They have over 25 years of experience developing the most effective earplugs on the market. Their earplugs are made of their proprietary polyurethane foam. It is very soft and easy to insert. If you have never used earplugs, you will probably find these very comfortable. Their extreme softness is also why they make such a good choice for sleeping.
We also feel these have an ultra-secure fit. They easily stay in your ear, so you won't wake up with one missing. As far as their noise-canceling rating, these score off the charts. They have an NRR of 32-33 decibels. You will not hear snoring, traffic, or most other noises while they are in.
- ULTRA COMFORTABLE - Made with super low-pressure, slow release, Comfy Cush Comfort Foam. Their user preferred color is...
- ULTRA NOISE BLOCKERS – With a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 33 decibels, these versatile, noise blocking earplugs...
- #1 BRAND FOR SNORING, SLEEPING AND TO PROTECT HEARING - Mack’s is the #1 doctor recommended brand of foam earplugs to...
Mack's Ultrasoft Foam earplugs have a lot of popularity because they have a unique tapered cylinder design. Their texture is smooth, and they are easy to form into the ear. A cute touch is their purple color, which apparently stands for "sleepytime". We did not find these earplugs very slim. People with larger ear canals probably will not find them comfortable.
This option is one of the best for serious noise reduction. They are also ideal for use during sleep. The jar they come in is a travel-friendly size, however, they are not individually wrapped. As long as their design fits snuggly into your ear, we think you will be happy with the results these provide.
- LASER LITE HI-VIS COLORS: Vibrant yellow & magenta color is highly visible from a distance to help ensure employee...
- EXCELLENT NOISE REDUCTION (NRR 32): Self-Adjusting foam earplugs expand in the ear upon insertion to create a secure...
- IDEAL FOR SMALLER & LARGER EARS: Small size of earplug delivers optimal fit and ear protection for smaller ears, but low...
One of the standout features of Howard Leight Foam Earplugs is the variety of colors they are available in. While the color options do not improve quality, they are a fun design touch. These earplugs are made of smooth, soil-resistant foam. If you are prone to ear infections, these would be a good earplug option as they stay cleaner than most.
It is worth noting that these earplugs are not reusable. They are a one use, disposable option with exceptional attenuation. They are comfortable when used for sleeping or flying and mold well to the ear. If you have smaller ear canals, these are the best earplug choice for you. They have a noise reduction rating of 30 decibels, making them perfect for rest and comfort.
- Super-soft, slow-recovery tapered shape foam for easy insertion and removal
- High visibility color plus bright color cord make compliance checks quick and easy
- Low pressure, self-adjusting foam offers long wearing comfort and quick recovery time
Liberty DuraPlug earplugs have been widely hailed as one of the best disposable earplug options available. They are constructed of a premium-grade foam that is ultra-soft. We like the tapered design and slow recovery as they ensure a secure near-custom fit. We find these are easier to remove than some other foam options, a bonus for those with larger hands that struggle to remove their earplugs.
If you need earplugs for long-term wear, these provide a level of comfort suitable to avoid irritation. They have a 32-decibel noise reduction rating, impressive considering their budget price. Overall, these are one of the best earplugs for cost on our list.
The PQ earplugs are a nice combination of sleep-friendly earplugs that are also good for professional use. They are a popular option for musicians, DJ's, and sound engineers. They have a unique design that somewhat resembles the Beat headsets. This is appropriate since their target consumer is those in the music industry.
Outside of functioning in the studio, we think these are a great option for sleep. They are comfortable and effectively filter noise pollution. We also like the leatherette traveling and storage case. Overall, we feel these are one of the best buys on our list.
- BLOCK OUT THE NOISE, PROTECT YOUR HEARING, AND ENJOY A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP OR YOUR MONEY BACK! Our Noise Cancelling Ear...
- SAY GOOD BYE TO CHEAP IMITATORS THAT CONSTANTLY FALL OUT OF YOUR EARS AND GIVE YOU HORRIFIC DISCOMFORT AND PAIN: When...
- VERY IMPORTANT** For Optimum Results Ear Plugs Must Be Inserted EXACTLY As Directed; Follow The Simple Instructions As...
The Ear Buddy foam earplugs are ideal for blocking our most loud unwanted sounds. They are a simple foam design that is comfortable and easily molded. Unlike some other options on our list, they are not moisture resistant. We feel these are best for sleep and perhaps airplane travel.
They have an impressive Noise Reduction Rating of 32 decibels, so they will block out everything from snoring to your neighbor's loud music. They are on the more expensive side of cost per pair, but they are still budget-friendly. Overall, we feel this are a solid, no-frill choice most people will be happy with.
The Noise Canceling Ear Plugs by EarJoy is one of the best budget earplug options on the market. They are not sold in bulk, rather there are three sets of high-quality earplugs in each package. We like the soft and malleable silicone construction. Unlike foam earplugs, these can be cleaned and reused.
Each pair of earplugs included in the set is designed for a unique use. One set blocks out basic background noises during air travel. The second set is ideal for nighttime use. The third set is designed for use in moist climates, like on the beach. All three sets are stored in a carrying keychain for easy access. We feel this option is one of the most thought out on our list and certainly the most diverse.
- SECURE: Exposed cell surface texture resists movement and helps maintain an effective seal creating a comfortable, snug...
- OUTSTANDING COMFORT: This unique slow-recovery, low-pressure foam and special cylindrical shape help enhance comfort...
- SOFT SOUND-ABSORBING FOAM: Proprietary foam is initially firm to make fitting the ear plug easier, then softens once...
The 3M Pillow Pak earplugs are one of the less expensive disposable options on our list. They have a standout design because they are fashioned in the older cylinder style. They sort of resemble yellow sponges and have a snuggly fit in the ear. We like that they come in a massive pack of 200 earplugs. The bulk packaging keeps the cost per pair of earplugs down.
Since they are moisture-resistant, they are ideal for people who are in more humid or moist environments. They have an impressive 29 decibels of noise reduction capability supported by slow recovery PVC foam construction. These earplugs put minimal pressure on your ear while staying secure. They are an ideal budget earplug for sleep and travel.
- HIGH FIDELITY, PRECISE NOISE FILTRATION. Hear the music and chat with your friends while protecting yourself from...
- LOW-PROFILE DESIGN, HIGH TRANSPARENCY. Almost invisible when you put them in your ears, no matter your skin color.
- SOFT, HYPOALLERGENIC SILICONE. Wear them comfortably for long hours, even for the most sensitive, with exclusive earwax...
Ear Dial has a special place on our list because they are one of the most stealth earplugs on the market. Having bright big earplugs in your ear is not for everybody. If you want something more discreet these are the ultimate choice. They have a low-profile silicon design. We like that they are ultra-soft and comfortable with a barely-there feel.
Another nice touch is their Hi-Fi sound filter. The filter manages to block damaging decibels without sacrifice to sound quality. Their noise reduction is on the lower side, up to 20 decibels, so we would not call these professional grade. Another touch we appreciate is the earwax protection guard and filter, as it helps keep them clean for repeated use.
- PROTECT YOUR EARS EFFECTIVELY! Discover the most practical way to reduce your surrounding noise up to 21 dB; it is...
- YOU WILL FORGET YOU’RE WEARING THEM! Apart from adequately reducing the noises from your environment, we also made...
- MODERN, DISCREET DESIGN WITH FUNKY COLOR! Our earplugs have a modern, stylish design and a trendy, green pastel color....
There are only a few earplugs on our list that can stand up to extreme noise. However, the Hi Fidelity Green Earplugs are one of the best earplugs on the market for extremely loud settings. If you work in a music studio, are attending a concert, or work in an industry with loud machinery, these may be the best earplugs for you.
They are constructed of a high-grade natural silicone. It is soft and provides noise reduction with two different filters. The green filter provides a 20-decibel reduction and the white a 28-decibel reduction. They are safe for even the most sensitive ears as they are hypoallergenic. This model is popular with young musicians, drummers, and DJs because they maintain sound clarity well.
- 1. Block out the noise, protect your hearing and enjoy a good night’s sleep! SNR 35dB.
- 2. Made of environmental and non-toxic PU foam material to ensure safety.
- 3. 45s is the golden time for earplugs to expand to seal in your ear. Please wait 45s with patience.
The Amazker Soft Foam Ear Plugs are perfect for people who live in an urban jungle. They help to drown out the constant sounds of the city including traffic, loud music, sirens, talking, dogs, and the like. They have a cute neon green design that adds a bit of fun to a simplistic design.
Their soft nontoxic foam expands efficiently and gently whilst blocking noise from 35 decibels. Their rating is higher than most of the plugs on our list. Our only complaint is they may not be suitable for all ears. If your ears are on the large or small side, you may have to try them out to ensure they provide you with the optimal fit.
- [ULTRA COMFORTABLE] Made in HYPOALLERGENIC & NON-TOXIC material which is durable and lasting with proper care.With...
- [ULTRA NOISE BLOCKERS] With a unique 29db NRR filter, these versatile ear plugs are good at blocking out ambient noise...
- [REUSABLE & WASHABLE] Unlike the foam earplugs which are disposable, these silicone earplugs are reusable, durable and...
Eargasms are one of the more expensive options on our list. However, the price for them is justified as they are exceptional in the area of sound clarity. They are a flanged earplug design that is one of the more comfortable on the market. While there are few flanged earplugs we would consider suggesting for long-term wear or sleep, these hit the mark.
We do not think you will quite have an “eargasm”, but the design choice of omitting the stem was a wise move toward optimal comfort. Instead of using a stem, the company opted for a small tab on the bottom flange. It is worth noting, these earplugs have a larger diameter than standard. If you have smaller ears, they may not be the best choice. Lastly, we find the keychain carrying case rather convenient.
The Verdict for the Best Earplugs
We have covered a lot of earplug options. There are so many varieties, noise reduction capabilities, and fits that we had a hard time choosing which option was the standout model. That said, there was one that provides the most versatility, comfort, and sound protection for most peoples needs. Our top pick is the Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Putty earplugs. We feel these are the best earplugs for long-term wear. They are comfortable during travel, sleeping, or even all-day use if that is something that is a necessity in your life.
We like that they can be cleaned easily with a mild soap and some water. The fact that they are reusable is also a major bonus. Their silicone putty is highly moldable and suits both large and smaller ear canals. They have a neutral color, so they are discreet and classy. We like that they do not have appendages that sit in your ear canal, as if further maximizes comfort. Also, they have a custom-like fit.
Our only gripe is they can be difficult to install, initially. However, after the learning curve, they are a breeze to use. If you have sensitive ears, these are an especially good choice. Overall, we feel these earplugs are extremely versatile and of high quality. That said, if you need earplugs that are a little more powerful, prefer foam, or even flanged we have tons of options above. We are sure you will be able to find something to suit your individual needs.