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Earplugs can help cancel out noise to promote sleep, improve focus in workplaces and public transit, and protect the ears at loud concerts or during swimming.
A quick look at 12 of the best earplugs
- Best for a high NRR:Howard Leight by Honeywell Laser Lite High Visibility Disposable Foam Earplugs
- Best for hypoallergenic earplugs: Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs
- Best for size adjustable earplugs: Kuyax Premium Silicone Ear Plugs
- Best for easy-to-use earplugs: 3M Earplugs, E-A-Rsoft Yellow Neons 312-1250
- Best for blocking construction sound: The Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Earplugs
- Best for reusable earplugs: ANBOW Silicone Ear Plugs
- Best for natural materials: Mighty Plugs Pure Beeswax Ear Plugs
- Best for side sleepers: Hearprotek Memory Foam Eartips
- Best for small ear canals: Eargrace Noise Reduction Ear Plugs
- Best for customizable earplugs: Decibullz Custom Molded High-Fidelity Earplugs
- Best foam and silicone pack: Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs by Lysian
- Best for minimal noise reduction: Noise Reduction Ear Plugs by Loop Experience
Earplugs are products that people put in their ears to block outside noise. People may use them for different reasons and in different situations, including:
- During sleep: About
one-thirdof all adults in the United States experience sleep deprivation. A recent studyin hospital patients shows that using earplugs and eye masks may help people wake up less often during sleep.
- For comfort:
Researchshows that comfort is a key deciding factor in earplug use. How well earplugs fit often depends on ear canal size and where they sit while a person sleeps. A person may need to try a couple of options to find their ideal match.
- To cancel out noise: The
noise reduction rating (NRR)roughly indicates how well earplugs and similar devices can block sound. The higher the NRR rating, the more noise is blocked out.
Medical News Today chooses products that fit the following criteria where possible:
- Price: MNT chooses products that suit a range of budgets.
- Size: MNT chooses items in a range of sizes that will suit a wide range of people.
- Materials: MNT chooses products that are made from safe materials, such as silicone and foam.
- NRR: MNT chooses items with a medium and high noise reduction rate (NRR) that can block loud noises in a range of environments.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Below are 12 of the best earplugs a person can consider.
Best for a high NRR: Howard Leight by Honeywell Laser Lite High Visibility Disposable Foam Earplugs
These yellow and magenta foam earplugs offer a high NRR of 32 decibels (dB), making them suitable for people who sleep in noisy environments.
The manufacturer claims that its product has a near-universal fit and that the soil-resistant, closed-cell foam skin prevents dirt buildup.
Online reviews have been positive, though some say that the earplugs fall out at night.
Advantages include visibility, high NRR rating, fit, soil resistance, and ease of use.
The main reported disadvantage of the product is that it does not always stay inside the ear overnight.
The Honeywell earplugs cost $24.34 for 200 pairs.
Best hypoallergenic: Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs
These moldable, silicone earplugs offer hypoallergenic, waterproof protection. They cover the opening of the ear canal, rather than fitting inside it.
The manufacturer says that its product alleviates pressure and pain during flying and can block out snoring. The NRR is 22 dB.
According to some reports, silicone putty plugs are more comfortable than custom-molded ones. Some online reviews praise the versatility of this product, while others report discomfort and say that the earplugs fell away easily.
Advantages include being hypoallergenic, waterproof, comfortable, safe to use, and able to reduce ear pressure during flights.
Disadvantages may include problems with fit and small pack size.
Mack’s Silicone Earplugs cost $12.99 for 12 pairs.
Best size adjustable: Kuyax Premium Silicone Ear Plugs
These washable, reusable earplugs have an NRR of 32 dB. They are made of high-grade, hypoallergenic silicone and are designed for different noise and pressure environments, such as concerts, watersport arenas, and construction sites.
The manufacturer highlights that a person can cut the material to make it more suitable for children and adults. The company also states that these earplugs are suitable for side sleepers because they fit flush with a person’s ear.
Online reviews are generally positive, with users saying that they block out snoring and noise from neighbors. However, some customers reported that they do not block enough sound to improve sleep.
Advantages include that they are adjustable, washable, reusable, hypoallergenic, and have a high NRR rating.
The most commonly reported disadvantage by users is that they do not block enough sound. As a result, these earplugs may be suitable for people who do not need to block out very loud noise.
The Kuyax Silicone Ear Plugs cost $19.99 for 8 pairs.
Best easy-to-use: 3M Earplugs, E-A-Rsoft Yellow Neons 312-1250
Containing soft, slow-recovery foam, these latex-free earplugs are designed to be easy to roll down and insert into the ear canal. Each pair comes in a hygienic bag.
These earplugs have an NRR of 33 dB.
The manufacturer says that its product is sized for universal use. However, some online reviewers say that these do not fit larger ear canals.
Advantages include that they are easy to use and have a high NRR rating.
A disadvantage of these earplugs is that they may not fit well in larger ear canals, and they are expensive compared to other brands.
The 3M Earplugs cost $37 for 200 pairs.
Best for blocking construction sound: The Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Earplugs
These earplugs can protect hearing by blocking out noise at concerts, construction sites, shooting ranges, and sleeping areas occupied by snorers. They have a high NRR of 32 dB.
The company notes that they come with simple instructions and work best when consumers follow these instructions. A person should discard them after several uses.
Online reviews suggest that they are soft and comfortable.
Advantages include that they have a high NRR rating and are reportedly comfortable to wear. They also come with a 60-day 100% money-back guarantee.
A disadvantage of these earplugs is that some customers report that they are not good for blocking the sounds of snoring.
The Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs cost $18.97 for 50 pairs.
Best reusable earplugs: ANBOW Silicone Ear Plugs
These reusable, washable, and hypoallergenic earplugs have an NRR of 32 dB. The manufacturer says that the ultra-soft, high-grade silicone material can last for years and that its product is designed for comfort.
These earplugs come with a plastic storage box and a waterproof travel pouch. A person does not roll these earplugs between their fingertips, as they would with foam plugs, but instead twists them during insertion to ensure the right fit.
Some positive online reviews state that the optional string attachment is useful. Negative reviews question the level of noise cancellation and comfort these earplugs provide.
Advantages include that they are reusable, washable, hypoallergenic, soft, and have a high NRR rating.
Disadvantages include that they may not block out all noise, and only three pairs are included in each pack.
The ANBOW Silicone Ear Plugs cost $6.99 for three pairs of earplugs, a plastic storage box, and a travel pouch.
Best for natural materials: Mighty Plugs Pure Beeswax Ear Plugs
Made from natural beeswax, these are hypoallergenic, reusable, and waterproof. These make excellent earplugs for swimmers. They have an NRR of 34 dB.
The makers say that their product fits all ear canal sizes and is great during sleep, relaxation, study, and concerts and other loud activities.
Online reviews are generally positive, though some say that these earplugs are ineffective and fragile.
Advantages include that they are waterproof, made of natural materials, hypoallergenic, reusable, and have a top NRR rating of 34.
Disadvantages include that reportedly, they can be fragile and fall apart easily. Additionally, they may not be suitable for people following a strict vegan lifestyle, as they are made from beeswax.
They sell for around $42.95 for 12 pairs.
Best for side sleepers: Hearprotek Memory Foam Eartips
These earplugs have foam ear tips and wings that are designed to enhance their fit and function. They come in small, medium, and large.
Made from soft, hypoallergenic memory foam, the manufacturer has designed these ear plugs specifically for side sleepers.
They have a high NRR of 33 dB.
Advantages include that they are specifically designed for side sleepers and come in three sizes.
Disadvantages include that there is just one pair in each pack and some users report they made their ears sore.
The Hearprotex Memory Foam Eartips cost $18.99.
Best for small ear canals: Eargrace Noise Reduction Ear Plugs
The two-layer, flange ergonomic design is built for small ear canals and suitable for side sleepers.
This reusable product has an NRR of 32 dB and has an attenuation filter that helps block noise that affects sleep, as well as general disturbances from the office, construction site, or city street. This means they could be useful for people both at night and during the day.
Advantages include that they are designed to be suitable for those with small ear canals who like to sleep on their sides.
Disadvantages include that they may not be suitable for people with larger ear canals.
The Eargrace Noise Reduction Ear Plugs cost $13 per pair.
Best customizable: Decibullz Custom Molded High-Fidelity Earplugs
These molded earpieces have high-fidelity acoustic filters and suit people with tinnitus, according to the company. The manufacturer also says that its product fits all ear canal sizes. The NRR rating is 12 dB.
The earplugs include three tip sizes and come with a carrying pouch.
Decibullz Earplugs are compatible with other products that the company sells. For example, an earplug-to-earphone kit is available. These may be ideal for musicians and regular concertgoers.
Advantages include that they are completely adjustable with high-fidelity acoustic filters and may be suitable for people with tinnitus.
Disadvantages include the lower 12 dB NRR.
The Decibullz Molded Ear Plugs cost $25.99 per pair.
Best foam and silicone pack: Ultra-Soft Foam Earplugs by Lysian
According to the manufacturer, these earplugs are soft, nontoxic, and made with PU foam that is latex- and PVC-free. The foam material adjusts to various ear canal sizes and places no pressure on the ear. The pack also includes one pair of silicone earplugs and a carry case.
These earplugs have an NRR rating of 31 dB.
The company describes them as fitting well in the ear canal and being suitable for side sleepers.
Advantages of the Lysian earplugs include that the pack contains both foam and silicone ear plugs at an affordable price.
Disadvantages may include customer confusion over the NRR rating, as the company lists the SNR rating alongside the NRR. These two ratings describe the same noise-canceling effects of the earplugs, but SNR ratings tend to be higher than NRR. Additionally, NRR is used in the U.S. and Canada, while SNR is used in Europe.
The Lysian Foam Earplugs sell for $13.99 per tub.
Best for minimal noise reduction: Noise Reduction Ear Plugs by Loop Experience
These earplugs muffle sounds but still allow the user to hear, which some people may feel safer using overnight. The company explains the design preserves noise quality while filtering noise pollution.
They come in four different sizes, which may suit a range of ear canal sizes.
They have an NRR rating of 18 dB.
Advantages include that they muffle sounds without blocking them and come in four different sizes.
Disadvantages include the higher price compared to other similar products, and the lower NRR, which may not be suitable for people who sleep in noisy environments.
The Loop Experience earplugs cost $29.95 per pair.
The table below compares each product listed in this article.
|Howard Leight by Honeywell||high NRR rating||high NRR rating||reports of poor fit overnight||$24.34 for 200 pairs|
|Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs||hypoallergenic earplugs||• hypoallergenic|
|reports of poor fit||$12.99 for 12 pairs|
|Kuyax Premium Silicone Ear Plugs||adjustable earplugs||• adjustable|
|may not block all sound||$19.99 for 8 pairs|
|3M Earplugs A-E Rsoft||easy-to-use earplugs||• easy-to-use|
• high NRR rating
• may not fit larger ear canals
|$37 for 200 pairs|
|The Ear Buddy Premium Soft Flow Earbuds||blocking construction, concert, and shooting noise||• high NRR rating|
• money-back guarantee
|may not block snoring||$18.97 for 50 pairs|
|ANBOW Silicone Earplugs||reusable earplugs||• reusable|
|small pack size||$6.99 for three pairs|
|Mighty Plugs||natural materials||• waterproof|
• not suitable for vegan lifestyles
|$42.95 for 12 pairs|
|Hearprotek Memory Foam Eartips||side sleepers||comfortable for side sleepers||one pair per pack||$18.99 for one pair|
|Eargrace Noise Reduction Earplugs||small ear canals||suitable for small ear canals||may not work for larger ear canals||$13 for one pair|
|Decibullz Custom Molded High Fidelity Earplugs||customizable earplugs||adjustable||lower NRR rating||$25.99 for one pair|
|Ultra-Soft Foam Earplugs by Lysian||foam and silicone options||contains foam and silicone earplugs||potential confusion over NRR rating||$13.99 for 61 foam plugs and one silicone pair|
|Noise Reduction Earplugs by Loop Experience||minimal noise reduction||• comes in a range of sizes|
• muffles sound without completely blocking them
|not suitable for very noisy environments||$29.95 for one pair|
Earplugs may be thermoplastic, silicone, foam, or wax. Shapes and sizes also vary. People may wish to consider the following when purchasing earplugs:
- Cost: The price may depend on the materials and whether the earplugs are reusable or disposable.
- Quantity: Some companies sell single-use earplugs in bulk. This may be useful for people who intend to use their earplugs regularly or if they are buying earplugs for a group of people.
- Reusable vs. single-use: Some earplugs are washable and reusable, while others are only suitable for a single use. Single-use earplugs may have a greater impact on the environment than reusable varieties.
- Size and shape: Many earplugs fit most ear canal sizes and shapes. However, some companies tailor products specifically for different ear canal sizes. A person can consider trying less expensive earplug options for size before opting for a more expensive brand if they are unsure of the size of their ear canal. Certain materials, such as foam, may be easier to mold to a person’s ear.
- Materials: A person should consider the materials used in their chosen earplug. Silicone earplugs are hypoallergenic and easy to clean but may be harder to adapt to the shape of a person’s ear. Foam ear plugs are very adaptable, but they may not always resist a buildup of dirt or ear wax. If a person has a latex allergy, they should avoid earplugs that contain latex.
Wearing earplugs can have negative effects, including pushing earwax deeper into the ear. This may increase the risk of tinnitus or hearing loss. In addition, bacteria can build up on some earplugs, which may lead to an ear infection.
Below are a few alternatives a person can consider:
- White noise machines: These produce a continuous background sound that can drown out distracting noises. A range of white noise machines is available for purchase online.
- Sleep apps: There are dozens of these, and they offer relaxing melodies, noise cancellation, sounds of nature, and sleep trackers.
- Headband headphones: These have soft speaker inserts for back and side sleepers. They can also play white noise from an app. A range is available for purchase online.
- Music: Background music may help redirect attention from distracting noises.
- Soundproofing: While this may be an expensive option, insulated windows and doors can help cancel out noise.
Below are some frequently asked questions about earplugs.
Is it safe to wear earplugs when sleeping?
It is generally safe to wear earplugs when sleeping, although the research into the risks of doing so is limited. A person may experience a buildup of earwax or a higher risk of ear infections if they use earplugs regularly. That said, some
Can earplugs damage the ears?
There is no current research suggesting earplugs can damage a person’s ears. However, wearing earplugs regularly may lead to a buildup of earwax, called impacted earwax, because they can stop wax from exiting through the ear canal. The World Health Organization (WHO) writes that impacted wax can be a
A person should not push their earplugs deep into the ear.
If a person experiences symptoms of wax buildup, an ear infection, or pain while using their earplugs, they should consider contacting a doctor for advice.
How often should earplugs be replaced?
People should follow the manufacturer’s instructions when reusing or disposing of their earplugs. Some products are only suitable for one use, while others are washable and reusable. Reusing dirty earplugs can increase a person’s risk of an ear infection.
Which earplugs block the most noise?
The earplugs that block the most noise have high NRR ratings. Currently, NRR 33 dB is the highest rating for earplugs. These earplugs may block loud noises.
A Single Number Rating (SNR) is used in Europe to describe the same rating as NRR. NRR is in use in the U.S. and Canada. However, SNR ratings tend to be 3 decibels higher than NRR ratings. A person should take this discrepancy into account when researching earplugs.
When purchasing the best earplugs for sleeping, there are several factors to consider, such as cost, ear size, comfort, and intended use.
A person should keep earplugs clean if they reuse them to lower their risk of developing an ear infection.
If an individual is worried about hearing loss, they should contact a doctor for advice.