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Which earplugs are best?

Whether you work in a noisy environment or go to loud rock shows, it’s important to protect your hearing with earplugs. You may also choose to wear earplugs simply for some peace and quiet, for instance, to block out street noise while studying or to survive sleeping next to a heavy snorer.

Read on to learn more about earplugs and see a handful of our recommended products at the end. Our favorite earplugs for general use are HEAROS’ Ultimate Softness Foam Earplugs, which are comfortable to wear and are effective at reducing all kinds of noise.

Considerations when choosing earplugs

Disposable vs. reusable

Perhaps the first factor to decide on is whether you want disposable or reusable earplugs. Disposable earplugs tend to be made of foam, though you can also find wax earplugs, which many users find more effective, though a little tricker to put in. Disposable earplugs are usually thrown out after a single use, though you can get away with using the same pair a few times before they get dirty or start to degrade. Reusable earplugs are great for anyone who regularly needs earplugs, as you can use them again and again, which works out cheaper in the long run and is better for the environment.

Earplug type

It’s important to choose the correct type of earplugs to fit your needs. Not all earplugs are suited to all purposes.

Musician’s earplugs are particularly designed for musicians to wear while playing, though people listening to live music may prefer using this type of earplug, too. These earplugs soften noise without blocking frequencies, giving you a more nuanced volume-reduction without losing sound quality, which can make it difficult to play an instrument.

Noise-reducing earplugs are designed to reduce loud noises as much as possible and are generally used in very loud environments, such as on factory floors or construction sites. Unlike with musician’s earplugs, there’s no need to preserve sound quality.

Sleeping earplugs are specifically made for reducing ambient noises while you sleep. They must be made with comfort in mind, as it’s not very pleasant to wear uncomfortable earplugs while you sleep.

Earplugs features

Interchangeable end caps

For extra comfort, many reusable earplugs come with interchangeable end caps in a range of sizes in order to fit ears of varying sizes.

Package size

Disposable earplugs are almost always sold in large boxes, often with 50 or 100 pairs of earplugs to a pack. This can be overkill if you rarely wear earplugs.

Earplugs price

Earplugs vary widely in price depending on their quality and purpose. Expect to pay somewhere between $10-$30 for a pack of 100 pairs of disposable foam earplugs. Basic reusable earplugs can cost less than $5 a pair, but high-end musician’s earplugs retail for up to $50, or even more if you buy custom-molded earplugs.

Earplugs FAQ

Q. How do you clean earplugs?

A. It’s important to clean reusable earplugs regularly, as they pick up earwax from your ear canals and can harbor bacteria. If you put bacteria-laden earplugs into your ears, you could give yourself a nasty ear infection. Clean earplugs with hot soapy water, then rinse and leave them to dry, so they’re ready for the next time you need them.

Q. What does NRR stand for?

A. When shopping for earplugs, you may see the acronym NRR. This stands for “noise reduction rating” and is an indication of the level of noise that earplugs can block in decibels. The highest possible NRR for earplugs is 33 dB. All earplugs sold in the U.S. need to be tested and approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Earplugs we recommend

Best of the best earplugs 

HEAROS’ Ultimate Softness Foam Earplugs

HEAROS’ Ultimate Softness Foam Earplugs

Our take: These effective earplugs have an NRR of 32 dB and come in a pack of 100 pairs, so you won’t run out anytime soon.

What we like: Made from extra-soft material for improved comfort. Slow-recovery foam is easy to insert. Great for all kinds of uses, including concerts, construction work, and sleep.

What we dislike: Some users find them too small for their ear canals.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck earplugs

Mack's Ultra-Soft Foam Earplugs

Mack’s Ultra-Soft Foam Earplugs

Our take: This pack of 50 pairs of foam earplugs offers extremely good value for money without sacrificing quality.

What we like: NRR of 32 dB. Soft and comfortable, even for all-night use. Stay in your ears well.

What we dislike: Quality can be inconsistent between packs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Earplugs worth checking out

3M’s Peltor Sport Tri-Flange Corded Reusable Earplugs

3M’s Peltor Sport Tri-Flange Corded Reusable Earplugs

Our take: If you regularly use earplugs, these reusable ones offer better value over time and are more environmentally friendly.

What we like: Made from a flexible polymer that’s easy to wash. Tri-flange design gives a snug fit. Decent 32 dB NRR. Cord makes them harder to lose.

What we dislike: Not comfortable enough for sleeping.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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