Written By Teodora Spirovska
Published Dec. 2, 2020

We all have some form of safety equipment we rely on, and hearing protection should be one precaution that’s never overlooked. Loud noises pose a serious threat to our long-term ability to hear. Delayed effects mean that by the time we notice damage, it’s probably too late to reverse it. Fortunately, you can protect your hearing for pennies. If you don’t have access to expensive noise-canceling headphones, a simple set of foam ear plugs can still offer worthwhile protection. Some workplaces actually make ear protection mandatory. In others it is just recommended. Regardless of the regulations, getting the chance to muffle your surroundings can be more than a matter of safety, it’s a convenience. We picked out the best foam ear plugs to offer a first line of defense for your ears. Make sure to pick one of these up before the next time you fire up a saw, get behind a lawnmower, or just want to get a solid sleep free of noise.

The Best Foam Ear Plugs

For quality hearing protection, it’s hard to beat Mpow Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs. These powerful foam ear plugs reduce noise levels by 38 decibels, which makes them the quietest option on our list. That’s enough to take the sting out of painful volumes created by things like jackhammers. The dense, non-toxic foam creates a comfortable fit in the ear canal for extended use. With this option, you’ll get a bottle with 120 individual ear plugs, and an aluminum keychain case so you can keep a fresh set with you anywhere you go. This bonus case is great for traveling and loud job sites. Less-powerful options are also available, but we recommend picking the 38-decibel variety. When you protect something as important as your hearing, this is one measure you can count on.

It’s worth a mention that, though these ear plugs are really effective and soft, they do wear down fairly quickly. The good news, however, is that there are 60 pairs in the container.

Key Features
  • Comes with 60 pairs of ear plugs
  • Soft foam that contours well
  • Reduces 38 decibels of noise
  • Bright green color to prevent loss
Specification
  • Brand Mpow
  • Model 60 pairs
  • Weight HP133A
PROS

Comfortable to wear for long periods

Comes with holder for individual sets

Provides significant noise reduction

CONS

Soft foam is vulnerable to breakdown

Foam plugs can take on ear wax

Only suited to short-term use

If you need ear plugs to distribute in your job site or office, Honeywell Laser Lite Foam Earplugs are the way to go. These ear plugs block loud sounds to reduce volume in your ears by 32 decibels. The plastic wrapper keeps each pair clean and sanitary until opened. Bright neon colors make these easy to see from a distance and can help you easily determine if someone has earplugs or not. Expanding foam creates a comfortable, custom fit. The tapered shape allows these to seat properly in large or small ears, so they’re suitable for children and adults. Save money by buying in bulk, with the 200-count box of packaged pairs. Anyone who deals with construction, a testing center, or visitors in loud environments will appreciate having these ear plugs ready to hand out. 

It’s worth noting that, while these ear plugs give you a tight fit, they are prone to taking on ear wax due to the material. Keep them in a container between use to prevent dust buildup.

Key Features
  • Comes with 200 pairs
  • Made of comfortable foam
  • Disposable design 
  • Effective noise muffling
Specification
  • Brand Howard Leight
  • Model LL-2201105
  • Weight 200 pairs
PROS

Easy to wear for short periods

Fits tightly to your ear structure

T-shape to improve fit

CONS

Ear wax can build up on the foam

Long nails can tear the ear plug

Not meant for long-term use

Kuyak Noise Cancelling Earplugs go above and beyond to offer affordable ear plugs that perform in any environment. Noise-canceling construction results in sound transmission that’s 32 decibels quieter than you’d experience without ear plugs. The moldable, BPA-free silicone can be custom fit to your ear for an ideal fit. Waterproof material means these are perfect for swimming, and they can even be washed with soapy water and reused. People with small ears can cut plugs to size without compromising their effectiveness. Those who sleep on their side can get a good seal without having a plug deep in the ear canal that keeps them awake. This is the most expensive option on our list, but we think the price is justified. You’ll get ear plugs that work underwater, can be cleaned after a day on the job site, and are comfortable enough to sleep in.  

Despite the high level of quality, these silicone ear plugs can be tricky to mold into your ear. They have a bit more difficulty returning to their original structure.

Key Features
  • Comes with a set of four plugs
  • Made out of silicone material
  • Protects against 32 decibels
  • Cancels instead of muffles noise
Specification
  • Brand Kujax
  • Model N/A
PROS

Mold precisely to your ears

Washable design for long-term use

Entirely blocks noise from surroundings

CONS

Not technically made of foam

Can have trouble returning to original shape

Cancelling noise stops you from hearing surroundings

The tried and true 3M Foam Ear Plugs have been a staple in hearing protection for years, and they still provide excellent protection for the price. When purchased in boxes of 400, this option brings 200 uses, and keeps costs down for homeowners and businesses alike. Only one size is available, and the expanding foam can work with ears large and small. The smooth surface protects the foam from abrasive dirt and helps keep these ear plugs clean. Polyurethane is hypoallergenic and results in a comfortable fit all day long. This single-use design is intended to be disposable. When wearing these properly, sound levels are reduced by 29 decibels. There are more powerful options on this list, but the value of these makes them a compelling option.

It’s worth a mention that, though these ear plugs are effective against noise, the structure is relatively tough. This results in reduced ability to get a tight fit for your ears.

Key Features
  • Tough foam design for improved noise reduction
  • Meant for workplace use
  • Comes with 200 pairs
Specification
  • Brand 3M
  • Model 1100 Foam
PROS

Disposable design for convenience

Surface resists dirt and wax buildup

One-size-fits all design

CONS

Come at a higher price point

Relatively tough on skin due to firm foam

Can fall out of place

When price is a concern, you can still protect your hearing with Radians Uncorded Foam Earplugs. Protect yourself from harmful sound levels with these ear plugs, which can lower volumes by up to 32 decibels. This option comes in a resealable plastic bottle, so you can keep your hearing protection clean and dry. Each bottle contains 50 ear plugs. Soft foam can be easily rolled to compress, then expands in the ear canal for a secure fit and easy application. Their bright orange color makes these plugs easy to spot when you set them down, and when you scan a job site for a safety check. These might not be as comfortable or durable as some of the other options on this list, but there’s nothing wrong with using them on a budget.

While these earplugs are really useful for personal applications, they lack the fortitude to be effective in workplace settings. Only cancelling 32 decibels, they are ideal for less noisy spots.

Key Features
  • Comes with 25 ear plugs
  • Compact container for easy storage
  • Bouncy foam returns to shape
  • Provides a tight fit in your ear
Specification
  • Brand Radians
  • Model N/A
PROS

Comfortable on your ears

Light foam is easy to fit

Bright color prevents loss

CONS

Best geared towards personal use

Only comes with 25 ear plugs

Can take on surrounding dirt

Those seeking out a solution that works just as well at home as in the workplace, the LYSIAN Green Foam Earplugs are definitely worth a look. The set comes with 30 pairs of ear plugs. It also includes a case so you can store the ones you are currently using. The foam comes in different colors, all of which are bright enough to prevent loss. With a soft foam that contours to the ear’s shape, the plugs muffle noise from your surroundings. Since this foam structure bounces back into place at a slow pace, you can get an ideal fit. These plugs are able to block out up to 38 decibels, making them really effective at job sites. Given the comfort the ear plugs offer, they are also ideal for overnight wear. 

Keep in mind that, though the foam is really gentle on your skin, it is relatively easy to tear. Be careful when putting them in and taking them out of your ears.

Key Features
  • Comes with a 30 pairs of ear plugs
  • Blocks out 38 decibels
  • Soft foam creates a tight fit
  • Works at home and at work
Specification
  • Brand Lysan
  • Model SA-7-5
PROS

Comes with a set of silicone ear plugs

Blocks out a lot of noise

Comfortable to wear for long periods

CONS

Foam is easy to rip and tear

Soft design takes on wax and oil

Wears down after continual use

Are you on the hunt for something that you can wear all shift long? If so, Mack’s Ultra Soft Earplugs are a solid way to go. For starters, the plugs themselves are crafted for optimal ear comfort. They are easy to put in. Pinch the foam inwards, place them in your ears, then let the plugs expand. Once the plugs contour to the structure of your individual ear, they offer a tight hold that won’t fall out of place. This also maximizes the amount of noise resistance offered. These earplugs are able to block out 33 decibels, making them ideal for loud work sites. The set comes with 50 pairs of ear plugs, giving you more than enough supply for work and home. Though disposable, the plugs can usually be worn more than once. 

Bear in mind that, while these ear plugs are effective, they come in a muted tone and without a case. As a result, it is easier to misplace the ear plugs if you set them down.

Key Features
  • Comes with 50 sets of plugs
  • Soft foam with slow bounce-back
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
Specification
  • Brand Mack’s
  • Model 9250
PROS

Comfortable to wear over long periods

Provide a high level of noise reduction

Soft foam won’t slip from place

CONS

Subtle color makes them easy to lose

Doesn’t include a case for ear plugs

Take on wax and dirt easily

Those seeking out a solution to block out night time noise can really benefit from Flents Pair of Ear Plugs. The container includes 50 sets, each made out of a latex-free foam. It is suitable for those with allergies and overall sensitive skin. The plugs are comfortable once in place, expanding into position fairly quickly. After you’ve put them in, the plugs won’t fall out if you move around or toss and turn. By eliminating up to 29 decibels of noise, you can prevent distractions and irritations whether you’re in the garage or trying to sleep. The jar in which these white ear plugs are held is relatively compact, letting you store it with ease. Each set is disposable by nature; though, if properly cared for, can be used multiple times. 

Though the plugs are well-suited to home use and nightly noise reduction, they aren’t powerful enough for use at job sites. These plugs are better at muffling than cancelling sound.

Key Features
  • Comes with 50 pairs of plugs
  • Structured to contour to ear shape
  • Includes compact, airtight container
  • Good for overnight wear
Specification
  • Brand Flents
  • Model N/A
PROS

Comfortable on sensitive skin

Made without latex materials

Soft foam provides a tight fit

CONS

Only reduces 29 decibels

Doesn’t have a carrying case

Not suited for workplace use

Especially for those who want a stylish option to take on the go, Moldex Foam Ear Plugs are a fun and functional choice. The set includes 50 pairs, each with a different color and pattern. This makes it easier to spot them in a crowded space. Working to eliminate up to 33 decibels of noise, you can use these ear plugs just about anywhere. Manufactured without the use of PVC or latex, it is safe to use these plugs on sensitive skin. They go into your ears easily and provide a tight hold by expanding slowly. The foam clings to your ears to eliminate the most noise possible. Gentle on skin, both the material and design optimizes comfort. With a unique aesthetic and user-friendly function, these ear plugs are both stylish and convenient. 

They are designed to be disposable; so, given the soft foam, it is better to use each pair just a few times. Keep them in a container for best results.

Key Features
  • Comes with set of 50 ear plugs
  • Made of high-grade polymer
  • Stylish design to prevent loss
  • Reduces 33 decibels of noise
Specification
  • Brand Moldex
  • Model 4332399243
PROS

Soft and entirely latex-free

Molds quickly to your ear

Powerful noise resistance

CONS

Takes on wax and debris

Foam can tear or rip

May lose their hold in ears

Want something that stands out from the crowd? Amazker Bell-Shaped Ear Plugs have a unique design that gives them an extra edge in terms of performance. They are made out of a soft foam material that is gentle on skin. By using such a light material, the speed at which they expand decreases. This gives the foam the chance to sculpt into the precise shape of your ear. It won’t lose its hold in the ear and also maximizes the noise reduction. Given that it’s mainly polymer, the foam is quite sturdy. By blocking out a full 35 decibels of noise, the ear plugs become a solid option for home and work alike. With a bright green design, it is tricky to lose them. However, if you misplace a pair, it’s not a concern since there are 60 sets in this container. 

Keep in mind that, because of the foam’s low density, it takes quite a while to get them into position. It can take over a minute to get the ear plugs set, though after that they work reliably.

Key Features
  • Comes in set of 60 plugs
  • Soft on skin and hypo-allergenic
  • Reduces up to 35 decibels
  • Creates a tight fit in your ear
Specification
  • Brand Amazker
  • Model AM-1006
PROS

Comfortable to wear over long periods

Effective for work and for home

Powerful noise reduction abilities

CONS

Can take on wax and debris

Aluminum carrying case doesn’t have airtight seal

Takes a while to expand in ear

Best Foam Ear Plugs Buying Guide & FAQ

The idea behind foam ear plugs is to use a relatively dense material to contour to your ears’ individual shapes. When you go to look for ear plugs, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. For starters, you want to learn what they are made out of and how that relates to their fit and shape. Everything from foam density to storage can drastically change the function of your ear plugs.

In order to get the best value, you need to consider the purpose of the ear plugs. Will you use them for work? To sleep? Both? The type of ear plugs you need depends on how much noise you need to eliminate. Buying ear plugs is an investment in both health and comfort. To get the most out of your pair, it helps to do your research. 

The Advantages of Owning Foam Ear Plugs

A key benefit to having foam ear plugs is the overall health benefits they offer. Especially if you work in a noisy jobsite, sound can lead to long term damage. Often, the results of damage to your ears are only noticed after the issue is already present. Since most of this damage isn’t reversible, it’s important to protect your hearing. 

Foam ear plugs let you keep your hearing intact while remaining entirely convenient. Ear plugs are quick to pop into place. The foam expands and fits precisely into your ear and creates a tight seal. Thanks to this, there is limited chance of it falling out of place while you work.

The other side to this convenience is that it blocks noise while you sleep. Though more of a nuisance than a danger, noises during sleep can be disruptive and unpleasant. Ear plugs remove the issue by muffling out the sounds of your surroundings. Gentle foam plugs are safe for overnight use, making them a popular sleep aid. 

  • Prevents damage to your ear’s biological function due to repetitive noise exposure.
  • Can help you sleep by eliminating noise during the night time. 
  • Regulates the pressure in your inner ear by effectively ‘plugging’ your ears.
  • Easy to store and move around so you can use them almost anywhere. 
  • More comfortable to wear than bulky earmuff style ear protection. 

The Most Common Types of Foam Ear Plugs

While all foam ear plugs have a lot in common, there are a few different types. In order to achieve the best noise-reducing results, it’s important to find the right fit. Some are better for the workplace, especially for mechanics and construction jobs, while others are more comfort-focused. A thorough understanding of the different foam ear plug types can make a huge difference when you decide on a pair.

Disposable

The most common type of foam ear plug, disposable selections come in a huge range of quantities. You can get anywhere from half a dozen to hundreds in a single container. Disposable ear plugs are made out of a dense foam material. At one time, latex and PVC were popular, though the industry has largely moved towards polyurethane. 

This type of foam plug is meant to be pinched, placed in the ear, and then expanded. Depending on the quality, it will return to its original shape after use. If it does, you can get more than one use before throwing it away. However, since these can’t really be cleaned, users need to dispose of them to prevent wax build up and debris issues. 

Reusable

This type of ear plug is less common, though it remains quite popular. Usually, the material is silicone-based. The reusable type returns to their original shape after being removed from the ear. At this time, you can wipe down the exterior and put them away. Since the plugs are reusable, there are usually fewer per pack.

Keep in mind that silicone can be tougher on sensitive skin and the plug itself can be a lot tougher to wear. Generally, this type of ear plug is geared towards workplace use. Usually, it is rated to a high NRR and meant to eliminate a lot of noise. While these may not be as comfortable on the ears, they are highly protective. 

Moldable

In almost all cases, moldable ear plugs are also disposable. Unlike other foam options that may expand only slightly, these moldable options contour to the exact shape of your ear. The slower the formation, the more effective the seal. Due to the material required to achieve this precision seal, the plugs are vulnerable to wax buildup. 

Moldable-type ear plugs are really useful for short and medium-length tasks. Better quality moldable ear plugs return to their original shape quickly. This means you can use them multiple times, though only if they are properly stored in between use. 

What to Consider When Buying Foam Ear Plugs

When you go to get the perfect set of ear plugs, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Though all of them look good on paper, it is about finding something that will work for you. Especially if you plan to use them over the long-term, you need a reliable solution that works. Be sure to consider all angles before you make your choice. 

  • Quantity. Think about how many ear plugs you are likely to need. If you plan to use them overnight, they are likely to wear out quickly due to the length of each wearing period. At work, you are likely to encounter dust and debris. Opt for something with a sufficient supply to ensure success. 
  • Comfort. Ultimately, the ear plug will be in your ears for a long period of time like on lengthy car rides. Pick something that is gentle on your skin. Be sure that it is entirely free of any materials to which you might be allergic (such as latex). In general, softer foam is much more comfortable to wear. 
  • Maintenance. If you plan to reuse the ear plugs, try for something that is easy to keep in good condition. Choose foam that isn’t prone to wear and tear. Find something that comes with a carrying case to protect the ear plugs you are using at any given time. 
  • Decibel Reduction. Finally, take a look at the actual amount of decibel reduction you are going to need. The top-tier options offer an NRR rating of 35. Less heavy-duty options run around 32.  The higher the NRR, the more noise it gets rid of. 

The Most Important Features of Foam Ear Plugs

With anything that is involved in health and safety, finding the essential features is a necessary step to get the workplace protection you need. Though most foam ear plugs are different and unique, all need to have some key features in order to perform effectively. Keep an eye on these criteria to ensure that the ear plugs operate correctly. 

Expansion

The key feature to any foam ear plugs is the ability to expand inside of the ear. Though it takes a bit of time for the slower foam to get in place, it creates a tight seal on your ear. This has two inherent values. The first is that, the tighter the seal, the less likely the ear plug is to fall out while you move around. 

Expanding foam also gives you the benefits of absolute noise reduction. Ultimately, sound comes from vibration. The tighter the grip, the less vibration there is. A tight seal and quality design (with a wider back) maximizes the noise reduction, improves comfort, and keeps it in place. 

Noise Reduction

The ultimate goal of any set of ear plugs is to reduce ambient noise. This can be to improve comfort during sleep or studying or to protect yourself at a job site. Though all ear plugs reduce sound, it is only to a certain degree. The rating system for this is called NRR (noise reduction rating).

More heavy-duty ear plugs feature a higher NRR. Usually in the realm of 35, this offers significant sound reduction. Lower-rated options are better for home use, with most of them rated in the range of 32. The difference is substantial, since decibels (sound measurement quantities) increases at a factor of ten. 

Material and Design

Naturally, the quality of the foam goes a long way. It is about both the material used and the design. In terms of the material, a more dense foam tends to be worse at expanding. Plus, the harder the foam, the less comfortable the wear. Conversely, less dense foam expands well, makes a good seal, and is easy on the skin. 

Finally, each set of ear plugs will have a slightly different design. You want something that is big enough to fit easily and not take too much time expending. The shape should always be wider at the base; and, ideally, have a t-shape at the back to contribute to a complete seal. 

Care and Maintenance for Foam Ear Plugs

In order to get the most benefit out of your foam ear plugs, upkeep is really important. The demand depends largely on the type of ear plugs in questions. Reusable options will require more maintenance than their disposable counterparts. However, there are some things that remain true in every case. 

It’s important to keep the ear plugs clean both before and during use. Not only is this important to extending the lifespan of the ear plugs, it is a matter of hygiene. Wipe down the ear plug after you use it. Return it immediately to the storage container to prevent it from taking on dirt and dust. There are also some other steps you can take to avoid damage. 

  • Be careful when putting them in and removing the ear plugs, since often foam can rip and tear. 
  • Take your time when placing the plugs in your ears in order to ensure that the foam expands fully. 
  • Keep an extra pair wherever you plan to use them, like in the glove compartment of your truck
  • Clean your ears before putting them in to prevent wax buildup on the exterior. 
  • Opt for brightly colored ear plugs to avoid losing them in busy situations. 
  • Keep the ear plugs dry to avoid the risk of mildew on the interior.
  • Throw away the disposable ear plugs if they are dirty or damaged. 
  • Ear plugs with a broken end will not create a full seal when it goes in your ear. 

Best Foam Ear Plugs FAQ:

In order to find the best earplugs for you, it’s important to ask questions. By learning everything you can about the standards of design and performance, you can make the ideal pick. Though some things differ based on the individual design and structure, some things are consistent across the board. We’ve addressed some of the most common inquiries below. 

Q: What are the most effective ear plugs?

The most effective ear plugs have a high NRR, soft foam, and are comfortable over long wearing periods. A good option is Mpow Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs.

Q: Are silicone ear plugs better than foam?

Silicone ear plugs are more likely to be reusable, though can be less comfortable than foam options. Generally, foam earplugs are easier to use and have a sufficient NRR.

Q: Are there any ear plugs that block all noise?

There are some really loud noises out there; so, technically, no ear plugs eliminate all noise. Some get pretty close though (35 NRR), and let you stay aware of your surroundings.

Our Top Pick

After careful thought and thorough research, we’ve named our top selection as Mpow Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs. These disposable options are comfortable, create an effective seal, and block a lot of noise. Coming with enough pairs to last a long time, these ear plugs are good for home and work. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the ins and outs of foam ear plugs, you can make your pick. It could be the Mpow Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs or the cost-effectiveness of the Honeywell Laser Lite Foam Earplugs. There’s a good fit for every situation, letting you get the quiet you need, whether at home or in the workplace.

Sources:

  1. Earplug – Wikipedia

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