After 12 hours of research evaluating 35 products, we picked Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs as our top choice.
You might be surprised by the noises that can result in hearing loss. According to the CDC, it’s not just loud concerts or weekend motorcycle rides. Fitness classes, kids’ toys, power tools, and a busy restaurant can all contribute to it as well. Crazy, right?
“Consumer Reports’ safety experts say that prolonged exposure to 70 dBA—the sound produced by a shower—or less is safe for most people.” So choosing the best ear plugs for high decibel situations should be a top priority.
Think about how many things you hear throughout the day that exceed that safe limit. And, think about other situations that could potentially do harm to your ears (and your sanity):
Thankfully, we have of the best earplugs for those things.
Here’s the lowdown:
Your ears need protection and earplugs are a convenient way to give it to them. So, after hours of research and testing, we created a list of the best ear plugs. They’re comfortable, they’re affordable, and they work incredibly well.
If you have a hard time sleeping because of a loud neighborhood or kids that wake up at 5 a.m., then you need earplugs that will reliably drown out those excess noises. These earplugs are great at doing just that. They're also comfortable enough to wear over long periods of time if you're worried about them helping you stay asleep.
Unlike the other foam earplugs on this list, these take a little while to conform to your ear upon insertion, so you need to be patient. You also might have problems with the earplugs rubbing against your pillow if you have shallow ear drums and you use these for sleeping.
Ease of Use: These were the first pair of earplugs tested out and they were actually a really great introduction to earplugs. Instructions provided on the jar clearly explain how you’re supposed to roll the earplugs up into a cylinder and insert them into your ear. The only problem is that they suggest waiting 30 seconds for the earplug to expand, though it took more like 60 seconds if you want it to really secure itself in the canal.
Comfort: Like other foam earplugs, these are on the rougher side. That said, you need that friction to keep the earplugs in overnight. Pain upon waking does not seem to be an issue with these earplugs, so, overall, comfort is a high point with these. They fit well, stay in place, and allow you to go on with your day without having to worry about any residual ear pain from sleeping with them.
The only concern noted is that they are a bit long, so you might feel them brush against the pillow if you move around a lot. They advise not cutting them down any shorter than they are, so you might only want to use these if you have average or larger-sized ear canals.
Effectiveness: Do not expect any issues in terms of staying in place. And these earplugs are also great at blocking out noises. While they might not be enough for a few hours on the shooting range or for a ride on your motorcycle through the country, they are definitely great for sleeping.
Price: You get a jar of 100 plus a small travel case with this purchase. So long as the bottle is “fresh” (be sure to check the expiration date before opening), you shouldn’t have to worry about these earplugs going stale and you losing money on the purchase. Be aware, but this does not seem to be a common complaint when it comes to this particular brand of earplugs.
These earplugs are a great alternative to the bulkier headphones you might feel compelled to use to protect your ears from louder activities. That said, while they do subdue those loud and harmful noises, they keep immediate sounds (like conversations with friends) perfectly clear.
We wouldn't recommend you wear these earplugs over longer stretches of time as they could make your ears ache. Another complaint we heard often is that these earplugs don't protect as well as headphones, so many users end up having to double up with an earplugs/headphones combo anyway.
Ease of Use: These earplugs are very similar to the style of earbud headphones many people are used to wearing, so you shouldn’t have any issues using or wearing these if you’re accustomed to those. These are also corded, so you don’t have to worry about them falling out and getting lost on you.
Comfort: Made by SureFire, a company that deals in tactical weapons and gear and knows their audience well, these earplugs have been crafted specifically for the purposes of shooting. Earplugs Guide explains them as such: “They’re made from a soft-yet-durable, hypoallergenic polymer that’s been optimized for both comfort and durability.” And because they leave such a small footprint, they can be worn under other shooting gear, including headphones, a helmet, or mask.
Effectiveness: People who use these for shooting seem to be really satisfied with the ability of the earplugs to block out harmful noise levels while protecting the sounds that matter (like conversations with people nearby). For additional protection, you can apply the extra filter that comes with the EP7 to drown out lower-level sounds too.
Price: You get one set of earplugs in this pack, but they’re going to last you awhile so long as you take care of them.
One of the nice things about foam earplugs is that you can really get the biggest bang for your buck when buying them in bulk (especially if they work as well as these guys do). These also happen to be individually packaged, so they're easy to take along with you when you're flying, staying in hotels, or on vacation.
These foam earplugs expand much more quickly than their counterparts, so you might experience issues with inserting these into your ears to start (it's more frustrating than anything else). Also, people with shorter ear canals may have problems with these slipping out while sleeping.
Ease of Use: If you're familiar with the process of rolling the foam earplug into a cylinder and then inserting into the ear canal, you should have no problem with this product. However, these earplugs expanded much more quickly than other brands of foam earplugs, so it may take you a few tries to get it right. That said, once it's in, expect it to stay put.
Comfort: While customers often complain about these earplugs feeling stiff, that feature is really what makes these ear plugs so effective. Otherwise, you end up with something too soft and squishy that’s likely to fall out (and that’ll do you no good). Expect to wear these all night, and maybe even into the next day, without any major discomfort.
Effectiveness: Not only are these earplugs great for sleeping, but they also work well to block out ambient noises while flying, at school, or at work. While they are effective at muffling loud noises (like the sound of a dishwasher or washing machine that you may prefer to run at night), you can still hear the things that matter… like a kid calling to you or a dog whimpering to go outside.
Price: There are 30 pairs of earplugs in the box, each of which come in their own individual packet (which is awesome for traveling). Needless to say, we find this to be a good product at a great value.
When you go to a concert, the last thing you want to do is worry about your earplugs falling out or, conversely, staying put but causing you a lot of discomfort. You won't have that problem with this flanged earplug design which will stay put while also protecting your ears from harmful sound levels.
Some customers argue that these don’t block enough noise. Because of this, the price might seem outrageous compared to foam earplugs that work just as well. Also, take note that these earplugs have been known not to work well if you have smaller or more shallow ear canals.
Ease of Use: Unlike foam earplugs that require you to roll them into a cylinder for insertion, or silicone earplugs that you have to mold like putty, there’s nothing to do with these. Simply insert them into your ears like in-ear headphones and you’re good to go.
Comfort: While most reviewers give these earplugs top honors as the best earplugs for concerts (and other raucous activities), Your Best Digs gave them a nod for their sleep friendliness: “they were the best flanged plug to sleep with for the lack of a stem in their design. In place of the stem is a small tab on the bottom flange used for removal.”
Effectiveness: The reason these earplugs consistently earn such rave reviews as the best earplugs for concerts or musicians is because, while they do block the surrounding cacophony that comes with playing or listening to music, they don’t degrade the ability to hear the music itself.
Price: It’s one set of earplugs for a pretty steep price. However, these can be cleaned and reused over and over again. So long as they fit your ears well, the price shouldn’t be a problem.
All in all, these Mack's earplugs are the best plugins you can get--and not just for a low cost either. They're crazy effective in terms of sound reduction and they're much more comfortable than similarly priced foam earplugs.
Some customers found that these earplugs did not reduce noise enough for them while others found them overly effective, as they had a difficult time removing the silicone from over their ear.
Ease of Use: While this may sound strange to say about at set of earplugs, these are an absolute joy to use. Don't be surprised when the package first arrives, the box appears to be full of a bunch of sticky orbs. Basically, you do not insert these “plugs” into your ears. Instead, you treat them like a plaster or putty. Place the orb over the entrance to the ear. Then spread the silicone outwards so that it creates a soundproof seal. As soon as that seal is in place, you’re going to notice a (scarily) significant difference.
To remove them, just follow the instructions on the box. Push on the box of your ear to break the airtight seal and you’ll then be able to pull the silicone plug away. Super easy.
Comfort: Of the earplugs included on our list, we find these to be the most comfortable for both day and night. They aren't necessarily soft, but you shouldn't feel them rub against the pillow or be aware of their presence at all. In fact, you may actually enjoy the feeling of having them in.
Effectiveness: In terms of reducing noise significantly, these work really well if you create the right seal. You can also use these for swimming. While Mack’s does make a flanged earplug specifically for swimming, we would suggest you use these if you already have them on hand. As Headphones Compared explained, “the Mack’s Pillow Soft range is recommended by doctors to seal out water, helping to prevent swimmer’s ear.”
Price: You can use these earplugs multiple times (probably three or four good uses out of each pair). With six pairs to a box and four boxes in the set, this is a really great deal on earplugs that will prove effective for any occasion or activity.