Female ear with ear plug

What are the best ear plugs to meet your needs? Should you use foam ear plugs? Reusable ear plugs? Maybe you should use ear muffs or other forms of hearing protection instead? Knowing how to find the best ear plugs means understanding the needs of your hearing, what loud noise elements you’ll be facing in your environment, and then being able to reduce those loud noises to below 85 dB. We’ll show you how it’s done right here.

The Best Chart for Earplugs

You’ll find that ear plugs come in many different sizes, shapes, and even colors today. They might be made from foam, plastic, or silicone. Some have a single flange and others have a triple flange design. How can you tell which will do the job you need it to do? The chart below has the products that have proven themselves to be extremely reliable.

PictureNameOur RatingdB Rating (Lab Test)
dB Reduction (Real Life)Price
PictureNameOur RatingdB Rating (Lab Test)
dB Reduction (Real Life)Price
Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs 4.422
7.5
$
Hearos Xtreme Protection 14 Pair 4.2
33
13
$$
Etymoic Research Hearing Protection Earplugs 4.3
12
2.5
$$
Mighty Plugs World's Finest Earplugs 4.3
n/a
n/a
$$$$
Apothecary Super Sleep Comfort Foam Earplugs 4.0
29
11
$
LiveMusic Hi-Fi Earplugs 4.4
29
11
$$$
Harris Health and Home Sound Blocking Earplugs 4.3
33
13
$$
The Ear Buddy Soft Foam Earplugs 4.6
32
12.5
$$
Howard Leight Laser Lite Earplugs 4.7
32
12.5
$$
HealthDoc HiFi Hearing Protection Earplugs 4.7
27
10
$$$

How to Find the Best Ear Plugs for Me

Earplugs tend to work well if they are selected based on the activity you are going to perform. If you work on an airport tarmac, for example, the type of hearing protection you’ll need is very different from someone who is just tired of listening to their partner snore every night. Make the right choice and you’ll be in heaven. Make the wrong choice and your hearing won’t be as protected as you thought it would be.

We’ve broken down the best ear plugs into three generic categories for your activities and what to look for in hearing protection for a good result.

  • Sleeping. Many people enjoy the soft foam or soft silicone earplugs because they don’t interfere with natural sleep. Some custom hearing protection in this category offer users white noise through the ear plug as a method of creating a silent environment.
  • Occupational. From the jackhammer at a construction site to an aircraft engine at the airport, workers are exposed to loud noises all the time. Even musicians deal with a noise exposure problem. Earplugs that are designed to meet the specific demands of the workplace are the best option here.
  • Lifestyle. Maybe you go to concerts all of the time. You might enjoy a weekend out hunting when the season opens. Durability is your best option here, with cleanliness a close second, because you’ll want to invest in earplugs that can maintain their shape as you use them repetitively. 

Once you’ve determined your specific requirements for earplugs, then you’re ready to move onto the next step in the evaluation process. Reviews are the best way to determine if the softness and durability of your preferred ear plugs is going to meet your needs. Marketing claims can sometimes be about as bad as some of the product names (“Snore Busters”), so look at detailed trial reviews as well as public reviews for an in-depth look at each set of ear plugs. 

The Features of the Best Ear Plugs 

Ear plugs today come with several different features. The primary feature you’ll want to look at is the product’s NRR rating. This will give you an idea of how much actual noise reduction you’ll receive so you can know if your hearing exposure is within safety limits.

You’ll also find that larger ear plugs tend to be rated lower in customer satisfaction than smaller ear plugs. This is usually because large ear plugs don’t fit into the ear canal as well, which means people cram them in there to make them stay and let’s face it – that hurts. An ear plug should fit snugly in the 0.5-1.5 inch range within your ear canal. If your ear plugs require more than that, then they’re too big.

Filters are the newest innovation in this industry. The filtering process allows you to hear specific sounds, eliminate specific loud sounds, but still hear the ambient environment with clarity. Some ear plugs even allow you to swap out the filters based on your daily needs so your hearing protection can always be at its best.

By looking at the features each product is able to provide, you’ll be able to know what advantages each set of ear plugs will be able to provide you on a regular basis. 

The Advantages of the Best Earplugs

The best earplugs can be made from a wide variety of materials. For several generations, humans used either wax or cotton as the primary element behind a successful noise reduction experience. These products are comfortable and they mute sound effectively – plus in today’s market, they’re highly affordable. The only down side here is that wax and cotton tend to collect dirt, debris, and earwax over time so you can only reuse them a handful of times at best.

This problem led to the development of plastic, silicone, and rubber ear plugs. The advantage of this style is that they are extremely durable. Several different shape options, from tapered to conical, help to fit a majority of ears. The down side of this type of ear plug is that you may find yourself as part of the minority group that has a unique ear shape to which an earplug is unable to conform.

Swimmers also have the need for an ear plug. Sometimes this is for medical reasons to prevent infections within the ear canal. It may also be for practical purposes as a public pool can be downright noisy as you’re trying to swim laps. You’ll find putty-based earplugs and other waterproof options in this category.

What Are the Prices of the Best Earplugs?

Some ear plugs can be extremely cheap – as low as $1 per set in many instances with the soft foam disposable varieties. Custom silicone ear plugs hit the other end of the spectrum and can cost upwards of $200 if you order them direct from the manufacturer. Most people are going to find something in the $10-$50 range that will work adequately for their needs.

The only exception to this may be certain occupational safety ear plugs. Because a higher NRR might be required or specific filtering might need to be employed instead of basic dampening, you may find your preferred ear plugs are in the $50-$100 range instead.

What Do Our Reviews Have to Say? 

Mack’s Pillow Soft

These soft silicone earplugs fit into the ear canal rather nicely. You’ll need to squish them down into the proper size for the best placement. If you do get them properly placed, then these ear plugs are waterproof. You’ll also be able to mute sounds enough that you can even get a good night of rest while lying next to a loud snoring partner. They are hypoallergenic as well, but can be a bit difficult to clean. Not meant to be used at depths lower than 10 feet if swimming, but they do stand-up well to chlorination. For the price, you can’t beat the value of these ear plugs.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

Hearox Xtreme

If you’ve had a difficult time with soft ear plugs in the past, then we recommend this NRR 33 option. They’re made from very soft foam and this makes them incredibly comfortable. The amount of noise reduction received is amazing as well, but you’ve got to be careful about placing these earplugs into your ear canal. You can really jam them in there and that makes wearing them a painful experience. You won’t get any filtering with this product, but you will receive the general noise reduction you may need.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

Etymotic Research ER20

Sometimes you don’t need to have a massive amount of hearing protection to protect your ears. You might be out mowing the lawn or working at a portable construction site with a generator and only need a few decibels in reduction. Musicians also can benefit from these safety ear plugs as they keep sounds clear without the muting interference of foam plugs. The triple flange design might be a little different for some users, but there’s no denying the fact that this product gets the job done.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

Mighty Plugs

To claim that your product is one of the world’s finest ear plugs is a pretty lofty claim. Yet when you get these earplugs fitted properly into your ears, you’ll find that even loud noises become more of a dull roar or thump. Snoring is blocked out completely. We experienced some leakage when it came to water exposure, but it’s likely because we didn’t have the ear plugs installed correctly more than anything. They’re soft and comfortable – they just might not be for repetitive impact noises if you also need to carry on a conversation with someone.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

Flents Super Sleep

These custom foam ear plugs are perfect for those who struggle to sleep at night. If you sleep on your side especially, many ear plugs just fall out on you. The deep conical design of these plugs helps to keep them stable, even when you’re tossing and turning. The NRR 29 dB rating isn’t the highest you’ll find in the market today, but is perfectly suitable for leisurely activities around the house like reading when everyone else wants to watch TV. You also can’t beat the price for 10 pairs of these super soft plugs.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

LiveMus!c

Loud sounds that happen for a prolonged period of time can quickly and permanently damage your hearing. Yet you may also have a need to hear crisp sounds because you love going to concerts or you love being on stage. You might play in a local band or orchestra and need to coordinate your part of a piece with others. Although this set of ear plugs isn’t going to mute out as many sounds as some of the others found here, it will give you a realistic hearing experience when you need it and drop down many every day activities that could be dangerous into a safe hearing zone.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

Harris Health & Home

These sound blocking ear plugs are so versatile and affordable that having them on-hand is always a good idea. They’re made from soft foam and designed with a conical shape for easy twisting to make placement fast and easy. The NRR 33 dB rating is one of the best in the industry today, allowing you to wear these plugs under your motorcycle helmet, while shooting, or when trying to catch a nap. They even work underneath the best ear muffs for your needs for an added level of hearing protection. Give these a try and you won’t be disappointed.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

The Ear Buddy

What we like about these particular ear plugs is that the conical design has more of a defined edge to it. As the plug expands in your ear canal, this edge gives you a better overall seal against the noises in your environment. They’re comfortable, but you’ll know they are in place with a bit of added pressure that you can feel from time to time. Use that to your benefit when flying or driving over a mountain pass because you’ll need to pop your ears less frequently when they are properly in place. If you’ve tried other foam plugs and been disappointed, then consider giving this product a second look.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

Howard Leight LL1

These self-adjusting foam ear plugs are designed to fit virtually every ear they come across. Even if they fall out for some reason, you’ll be able to find them quickly thanks to their bright color scheme. The shape is somewhat more of a “T” than a conical shape, giving the ear plugs a little added contouring for easier overall placement and long-term wear. You receive a NRR 32 dB in return for this small investment. The foam is even resistant to dirt and debris pickup, allowing users to reuse each set of plugs more often.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

HealthDoc

When you find yourself in consistently loud environments, then you need to protect your hearing. Yet you also have a social need to converse, requiring you to have a low-profile hearing protective device in place. These washable and reusable standard size ear plugs are often described as the best earplugs ever for musicians and concert-goers, but don’t be fooled by the marketing scheme. Anyone can benefit from the decibel-reducing design of this product. They stay in place, feel comfortable, and give you filter options for some added versatility.

Click here to look at pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

The best earplugs are designed to help you protect your hearing in any environment. Consider these options today, use the reviews from this guide to your advantage, and select the best earplugs to meet your needs.