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How Often Should You Change Earplugs?

Earplugs are a great way to protect your ears.

Earplugs can be used to protect your ears from loud sounds at night.

 If you spend a lot of time sleeping next to someone else, earplugs may help you sleep better. They can also make a difference for those who live in a noisy area or for individuals who have a partner who snores.

Keep reading to learn more about the best ways to protect your ears.

How Often Should You Change Earplugs?

Earplugs are convenient for keeping your ears protected against loud noises, but they also serve many people for sleeping purposes. They can make a massive difference for people who live in a noisy area or for individuals who have a partner who snores.

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Achieving the Proper Fit

First, earplugs must fit appropriately and be worn correctly to do the job. If you are trying to manage with poor quality or bad fitting earplug, you are doing more harm than good.

The performance of a hearing protection earplug or earmuff is indicated by a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). The typical range for hearing protection is from 15 to 35 decibels of sound reduction. With higher NRR, the earplugs provide more noise attenuation, as long as they are good fitting.

How often should you replace earplugs?

It can be enticing to keep using them repeatedly until they're so bent out of shape that there's no chance of getting them into your ear, but that's actually not a good idea.

Foam earplugs are purposely designed to have a short lifespan, and it will leave you in awe when you find out how short.

They should only be used once before you toss them out.

Right now, you’re probably thinking: It’s time for me to get a pair of new ones. And you are absolutely right.

Foam earplugs are breeding places for dirt and bacteria, which then have an open way into your ear canal and could cause pain or an infection. The worst possible scenario is you can damage your hearing.

Since these sounds very unhygienic, you might think you can avoid this by washing them, but that's not a bright idea either.

Even though you'll get rid of the dirt, you most likely won't remove bacteria, plus the foam will keep the moisture. That will make them swell up so they won't be fitting anymore, and it will also create a perfect place for bacteria to breed.

If your earplugs do not re-inflate after you squash them, it's definitely time to put them in the trashcan.

That said, the best plan, if you plan on using disposable foam earplugs, is to find a cheap industrial earplug so you can afford to use them correctly. The foam earplugs you see at the drugstore are almost always just repackaged industrial earplugs, but retailing at a much higher price.

Earplugs with filter

When using these, the earplug’s lifespan heavily depends on the usage of the earplug. If you seldom use filtered earplugs, a set of earplugs might last you several years. But if you use earplugs daily when sleeping, a set will last you for approximately three months.

Hence, check when do you plan to use the earplugs and, based on that, decide how often they need replacing.

Custom-made earplugs

The usual lifespan of custom-made earplugs is 4 to 5 years. Your ears keep growing throughout your lifetime, so it is advised to take a free leakage test every 2 to 3 years. Earmolds can be used daily.  It is advised to keep them clean and to disinfect them for a longer lifespan.

Earplug cleaning

If you must wear earplugs every day at work or nightly to avoid noises, you want to make sure that you are replacing foam one's daily or are frequently cleaning pre-molded and custom earplugs. Overused and uncleaned earplugs are exposed to bacteria and can introduce dirt into the ear canal.

Besides, earwax can cause molded and pre-molded earplugs to become inflexible, putting tension in the ear canal. This can cause ear infection, severe pain, and potential hearing loss—the complete opposite of what you are trying to achieve by using earplugs.

The unwritten rule is to discard foam earplugs daily and clean pre-molded or molded earplugs every day using a toothbrush and hydrogen peroxide plus a soap and water mixture. Wipe the earplugs with a clean, dry cloth, or leave them to dry out in the air.


Earwax might seem an irritating and useless function of the ears, but it's actually quite useful. Earwax, AKA cerumen, is produced by glands in the ear and part of its natural process. Earwax lubricates the ears’ skin, protects and guards against bacteria, and keeps the ears clean.

Usually, earwax slips out or your ears, together with all the impurities, without you realizing. But the use of earplugs can stop this natural process and can lead to a buildup of earwax.

Hearing can be ruined by built up earwax, so use certain ear wax removal practices or see a hearing health professional check your ears and have them professionally cleaned.

We recommend you to see a hearing doctor annually, but below are some indicative signs for when to see a professional to have earwax removed.

  • sound distortion (your voice sounds different to you)
  • ear pain
  • a feeling of stuffed or full ear canals
  • constant itching
  • an unpleasant odor
  • ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • discharge (an oozing substance that keeps appearing)
  • persistent cough
  • hearing loss

Stuffed Up Feeling in Ears

Using earplugs often makes people feel invulnerable when it comes to hearing. Unfortunately, that is not true. Your ears need to be adequately cared for annually. And above all, you must not ignore a stuffed up feeling in your ears.

There might be no pain involved with a stuffed up feeling in your ears, but that doesn't mean that you should ignore it. Hearing loss is typically painless. If you have that stuffed up feeling, be sure to see a hearing health professional and have your hearing tested.

Even if it is earwax causing a temporary hearing loss, it doesn't mean the effects aren't as harmful to your brain as someone who has permanent NIHL. Hearing loss increases the likelihood of Alzheimer’s and dementia and also has several other hearing repercussions.

How long can you wear earplugs?

Earplugs are medical devices that can be a great help for many people, but they must be cared for properly. Wearing dirty earplugs or ones that are past their expiration date will quickly diminish the beneficial effects.

Here is how to know when to change your earplugs:

  • If you have any redness or soreness in the ear canal.
  • If there is a bad smell coming from your ears (most likely because of bacteria).
  • If they become hard and brittle in appearance due to lack of moisture.
  • If there are visible bugs crawling around inside the ear canal (i.e., ants, spiders, etc.).
  • If you find that your ear plugs have gaps in them.
  • If the ear plugs are loose or falling out of your ears.

Just like other toiletry products, changing your earplugs on a regular basis is important for optimal health. After the first few days, some people may find that their ears are not so sensitive. However, if the dirtiness increases after using the same pair of earplugs for a few weeks, it is a good idea to change them.

How many times can disposable ear plugs be used?

Disposable ear plugs are single use items. They are not designed to be used more than once and are intended to be discarded after a single use. In order to protect your ears from disease or infection, it is important that you always discard them after each use. If you don’t, they may get contaminated during the course of their use and this can put your health at risk.

If disposable earplugs aren’t being used on a daily basis, it is important that they be kept in an airtight container when not in use. This will help eliminate moisture from damaging their integrity and causing cracking or breaking down of the material that makes up the earplugs themselves.

Why do my ears hurt when I wear earplugs?

If you have any sort of ear pain when wearing earplugs, it is important that you stop using them immediately. This is because continuing to wear them could lead to serious infections and even damage to your hearing. For example, if your ear canal is swollen due to a cold or infection, the continued use of disposable ear plugs may put a great deal of pressure on this area and cause the pain.

If you are still having trouble with this problem after several weeks without using the earplugs, it is recommended that you visit your doctor for an examination.



We know that there are many types of earplugs on the market. In our opinion, the best ones are silicone earplugs. These earplugs are made of a hypoallergenic material and have been proven effective for many years.

They also come in a variety of sizes to meet the needs of children as well as adults. Whether you use them at home, at work, in noisy restaurants or bars, or during sleep, these earplugs will help you rest more soundly at night and enjoy peace and quiet by reducing noise levels during waking hours, so they are definitely worth considering if you want to protect your hearing when out in public or at home with family members.

Please Note: Just because an ear defender is marked, for example, "Gunshot" - it will still cover other things, like "explosions"

Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, 50 Pair - 33dB Highest NRR, Comfortable Ear Plugs for Sleeping,...
  • ULTRA COMFORTABLE - Made with super low-pressure, slow release, Comfy Cush Comfort Foam. Their user preferred color is as easy on your eyes as they are on your ears
  • ULTRA NOISE BLOCKERS – With a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 33 decibels, these versatile, noise blocking earplugs are great for sleeping, studying, work, travel, concerts, relaxation, motorcycling, loud events, etc
  • #1 BRAND FOR SNORING, SLEEPING AND TO PROTECT HEARING - Mack’s is the #1 doctor recommended brand of foam earplugs to protect hearing and to get a good night’s sleep when sleeping with a snoring spouse
  • #1 BRAND USED BY DOCTORS - Mack’s is the #1 brand of foam earplugs personally used by doctors. Trust the brand that doctors trust
  • MADE IN THE USA – Proudly made in the USA with safe, high performance, noise reducing foam. Satisfaction guaranteed. The plastic jar is safety-sealed and features a convenient flip-open top for easy dispensing
Quality Reusable Earplugs 100 Pair - 25dB Corded Silicone Ear Plugs for Shooting Noise Reduction...
  • PERFECT NOISE REDUCTION - Provide Max Noise Reduction For The Peace, Quiet, and Sleep You Deserve! Perfect For Sleeping, Studying, Reading, Airplane, Airsoft, Mowing, Racing, Concerts And All Other Loud Activities. Length: Approx. 25 inches. NRR: 25dB/SNR: 28dB
  • WASHABLE AND REUSABLE - Earplugs can be washed with basic soap and warm water and re-used multiple times, anywhere from 2 months up to a year.
  • INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED - Each pair is sealed in its own plastic bag for good sanitation. They are easy to keep at work, in the car, purse, backpack without getting dirty.
  • CERTIFIED SAFETY AND QUALITY - Our ear plugs have passed stringent CE and ANSI certifications, ensuring they meet high safety and quality standards.
  • EASY TO USE - silicone ear plugs are easier to insert and remove than the typical foam ones, and they stay in place more consistently.
Ear Plugs for Sleeping, Reusable Silicone Moldable Noise Cancelling Sound Blocking Reduction...
  • NOISE CANCELLING - these noise-canceling silicone earplugs are also a good choice for study, sleeping, and general hearing protection in noisy environments. With (NRR) 32 Decibels being the standard grade for swimming plugs and earplugs for sleeping, they provide an uncompromised balance between comfort and performance.
  • COMFORTABLE, MOLDABLE & EASY TO USE - Made of high-grade silicone material, which is BPA free, washable, reusable, and hypoallergenic. Soft enough to be molded. Mold them to your specific ear canal. Use the as big or small piece as needed. Clean with warm soapy water and reuse many times.
  • GREAT FOR SIDE SLEEPERS - No long ends sticking out makes it very comfortable for sleeping on your side. These earplugs are very reliable, as they will not fall out from the ears.
  • UNIVERSAL USAGE - These silicone earplugs can easily block all types of noise. The earplugs for sleeping is easy to carry and portable in your backpack, pocket or purse. Ready to use. On the go! They are the best for factories and commercial areas, construction sites, flying and travel, sleeping, swimming and other watersports, concerts and live music, and they are also great for many other activities.
  • FOR ALL EAR SIZES - Silicone earplugs for sleeping are designed to fit any ear canal. They can be used as swimming plugs for adults, as well as for children.

Last update on 2023-11-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other Questions

How do I stop noise while sleeping?

Getting enough sleep is very important for health but so many people cannot get enough sleep, especially light sleepers get annoyed even by very little noise. There are some ways you can adopt to block the noise and have a peaceful sleep. One way is to play white noise.

White noise makes the original loud noise that was keeping you from sleeping, much less obvious. To block out noise, you can also buy good quality earplugs, there are many comfortable earplugs available in the market currently so you can easily choose the best one. Earplugs also come in very handy when you are on a plane or if you kids in the house.

Is it bad to sleep with earplugs every night?

Some people cannot sleep if there is any kind of noise. Such people mostly depend on earplugs or any other noise reduction device. Earplugs are considered a safer option because you can use them daily and sleep with them every night.

If you clean them regularly before every use and discard them after a certain time, then they can be used every night. Along with that, also clean your ears since earplugs can cause a wax build-up. Depending upon your need, you can get either wax, foam, or silicone earplugs.  

Can you put earplugs in too far?

No, you can not. There is a proper technique for putting on earplugs and if you don’t follow it, you might end up hurting your ears. To insert the earplugs you should first roll up the earplugs, then pull your ear and gently insert the earplugs.

Make sure not to put in too deep because that might rupture your eardrum resulting in pain. Try not to sleep in a position that would push the earplugs too far. Similarly, be careful while removing the earplugs. If you remove them too quickly, your inner ear can get damaged because of the suction created by the earplug.


If you require more information, please check these references

Clubbers’ Attitude Toward Earplugs: Better with Use , article, "dspace.nal.gov.au", retrieved on, Wed 28-October-2020

An evaluation of musician earplugs with college music students , article, "www.tandfonline.com", retrieved on, Wed 28-October-2020

Individual fit-testing of earplugs: A review of uses , article, "www.noiseandhealth.org", retrieved on, Wed 28-October-2020


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Nick Le Page

Experience : Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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