The Complete Guide on How to Use Earplugs

You already know how important wearing earplugs can be, from being around firearms, to swimming or listening to live music. But how exactly do you use earplugs?

Here is the complete guide on how to use some of the most common plugs and tips on getting the proper fit.

How to use foam earplugs

How to use earplugs - Mack's soft foam earplugs
Mack’s foam earplugs are one of the most common and effective plugs on the market. These can easily be inserted by squishing the earplugs into a cone.

Foam plugs are one of the most common types you’ll see (and try). Foam earplugs are ideal for sleeping as they have a high noise reduction rating (NRR) while still being comfortable and soft.

The easiest way to remember how to insert soft, foam earplugs is: roll, pull and hold.

  1. Roll the earplug in your fingers to compress it into a thin cylinder. You can use one hand, or both, whatever is easier for you. It should be long and thin, like a snake, and not rolled into a ball.

  2. With one hand, pull the top of your ear up and back. This motion helps straighten out your ear canal to make it easier to insert the plug. With the other hand, simply slide the rolled-up foam plug into your ear. Don’t force it.

  3. Once the plug is in your ear, hold it in place with your finger. You’ll need to wait about 30 seconds while the earplug expands to fill your ear canal. It may help to count out loud so you can hear your voice getting muffled as the earplug fills your ear. This is a good sign that it has created a strong seal.

  4. Repeat the same process for the second plug.

Tips on foam earplugs

Make sure to wash your hands before inserting any plug so you don’t get any dirt or germs on them.

You don’t want to push the plug too far into the ear canal, but it also needs to be far enough in to do its job properly. Typically, only a small portion of the plug should be protruding from the ear canal.

It may take you a few tries before you get the hang of inserting a foam earplug. Don’t be worried about taking the earplug out and trying again if it doesn’t feel right.

You may also find that a certain kind of earplug is too big or too small for your ear canal. This is normal! You might need to try a few different types of earplugs and sizes before finding the best one for you.

Some foam plugs are more squishy than others. You might need to apply more pressure (or less) to roll them into a thin cylinder.

How to use pre-molded reusable earplugs (such as silicone)

How to use earplugs - Jinhua silicone earplugs
Junhua Silicone ear plugs can easily be inserted into the ear to protect your hearing.

These earplugs are different from foam ones as they are pre-molded and reusable. These types of earplugs are commonly made from silicone, which can be hypoallergenic and durable.

  1. Make sure to read the instructions on your particular earplugs. While most of them are inserted the same way, it’s important to check first.

  2. Like with foam earplugs, reach over your head and pull your ear back and up gently with one hand. This will open up the ear canal and make it easier to insert the earplug.

  3. Insert the earplug with a back and forth motion. Move the earplug slowly back and forth while you gently push it into the ear canal.

Tips on reusable earplugs

Many pre-molded reusable plugs are marketed as “one size fits all.” However, this isn’t always the case. If you’re not sure what size or brand fits you best, you may need to buy a few packs in different sizes to see what works best for you.

Sometimes our ears are different sizes, so don’t be alarmed if an earplug fits one ear and not the other. This is fairly common! You might need to buy two different sizes of earplugs instead.

If you can still hear a lot of noise with the plug inserted, you may need to try again. You don’t want to push it too far in, but it also needs to fit properly to make a strong seal. If it doesn’t seem to be fitting after a few tries, you may need to buy a different size.

If you’re new to wearing ear plugs, it might feel weird at first. Don’t worry! Once you have them in for awhile, you might even forget they’re there.

How to use putty earplugs

How to use earplugs - Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone earplugs
Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone earplugs are a great option for moldable putty-type earplugs. These can even be used in the water!

Moldable putty or silicone earplugs can be useful in a lot of situations, but they need to be inserted in a certain way.

  1. Putty or wax plugs come in small balls surrounded by a protective material, usually cotton. Remove any packaging or cotton before taking out the plug.

  2. Before inserting it, you’ll need to soften and mold it to fit your ear. Soften the putty by holding it in your closed fist for about 30 seconds. This will help warm the wax up and make it softer.

  3. The wax will need to be in a cone-shape to be inserted into the ear. Hold on the ball of wax with your thumb and forefinger, and then pitch the ball while you rotate it. It will slowly turn into a cone shape.

  4. Wax or putty earplugs can stick to hair or clothing, so make sure to move these out of the way.

  5. Insert the wax cone into your ear. Most of the plug should be within the ear canal with a little bit sticking out of your ear.

  6. Rub on the end of the plug so it will spread across the canal to make a seal.

Tips on putty earplugs

These are far by the hardest and most awkward plugs to insert properly. However, after a few tries, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

If you have long hair, it’s recommended to tie it back before trying to insert a wax or putty earplug. You don’t want it to get stuck in your hair. This could also impact getting a good seal.

How to use earmuffs

How to use earmuffs - Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Hearing Protection
Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Hearing Protection are a well-known and trusted type of earmuffs.

Earmuffs, whether electronic or passive, are warn over the ear to create a seal from noise. These types of ear protection are best for being around firearms or gunshots. Unlike plugs, they do not enter the ear canal but are external instead.

  1. Make sure to follow the set-up instructions for your particular earmuffs. If they’re electronic, it’s likely they will need certain batteries before you can use them.
  2. Follow the manufactures usage instructions to make sure you get the most out of your earmuffs
  3. Wear the earmuffs like a headband, over your head and covering your ears.
  4. Adjust the headband (if possible) so the earmuffs are comfortable and secure on your head.
  5. The earmuff cups should cover your ears completely.

Tips on earmuffs

If you’re looking for an inexpensive earmuffs option, passive earmuffs (non-electronic) are a good fit. These will still have a solid NRR but without the extra elements that electronic earmuffs have (and a much lower cost).

Because of their design, earmuffs shouldn’t be warn in the water or for sleeping. This type of hearing protection will only work in certain situations like shooting or live music.

How to use earplugs – final words

Whatever type of earplug you prefer, it’s important that you use them properly. Properly inserting an earplug can make all the different between protecting your ears and exposing yourself to hearing loss.

Whether you need earplugs for a good nights sleep or from protection around loud noises, make sure to use them properly. You hearing will thank you!

HearStoppers is a blog dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of hearing protection.  Many people don’t realise how easily it can be to lose your hearing. Keep your hearing alive with proper protection.

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