The 8 Best Earplugs of 2023

We like the Loop Quiet Earplugs because they are comfortable, affordable, and come with a Noise Reduction Rating of 27 decibels.

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Best Earplugs

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Whether used for sleeping, flying, or simply blocking out distractions, earplugs can provide some much-needed respite from the noisy world around us. They’re also helpful for people who suffer from migraines, as well as those with hypersensitivity disorder, ADHD, and autism.

To find out what you should be looking for when shopping for the best earplugs, we spoke to Lee Fletcher, RHAD, BSHAA, principal audiologist at Regain Hearing in London. “Custom-made earplugs will provide the best protection and be more comfortable for extended periods,” says Fletcher. “However, if you want to purchase earplugs online or from a pharmacy, you need to check they are made for hearing protection.”

Fletcher also suggests checking that the earplugs have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 20 decibels or more. “This should be clearly displayed on the packaging,” he says.

Overall, the Loop Quiet Earplugs are our favorite thanks to their excellent NRR of 27 decibels, comfortable wear for both sleeping and everyday use, and reusability. 

Best Overall Earplugs

Loop Quiet Earplugs

4.9
Loop Quiet Noise Reduction Earplugs

Loop Earplugs

Who it’s for: People who want comfortable earplugs that can be reused.

Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want to have to clean earplugs regularly. 

Loop’s Quiet Earplugs are the closest thing you can find to custom-made earplugs without the price. In fact, one of our writers credits these affordable earplugs with improving her sleep. They slip effortlessly into the ear and only need a few twists to get them comfortably secure. The earplugs come in four sizes, making it easy to find the perfect fit, and all sizes come in the packet so you don’t have to guess your size prior to ordering them. 

With 27 decibels of noise reduction, they efficiently block out annoying outside noise, but you're still able to hear the important things, like your alarm or someone calling you in a raised voice. They come in several color options, including black, pink, and mint green, and their looped design makes them super stylish when in, too. They come in a cute carry case with a convenient loop for latching onto your keys or your purse, ensuring you never lose them. And at right around $20, they’re a great value, too. 

Price at time of publish: $20

Product Details:

  • NRR: 27 decibels
  • Material: Silicone
  • Number of Pairs: One

Best Budget Earplugs

Mack's Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs

Mack's Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who have smaller ear canals and people who want a seriously budget-friendly option.

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer reusable earplugs.

If you’re new to using earplugs and not quite sure you want to spend a lot on top-of-the-line earplugs, these affordable soft foam versions from Mack’s are a great place to start. You can get 50 pairs of slim-fitting earplugs in the convenient flip-open bottle. (They’re available in packs of three, five, seven, 10, and 100 pairs.) The slim fit is ideal for sensitive or smaller ear canals.  

They offer an impressive noise reduction of 29 decibels, which is great for not only drowning out your partner’s snoring, but for using power tools, too. Their malleable, soft-release foam construction also makes them great for sleeping in—even if you’re a side sleeper. If you have larger ear canals, you might want to try the Ultra Soft version from the same brand, as the Slim Fits are better for those with smaller canals.

Price at time of publish: $15 for 50-pack

Product Details:

  • NRR: 29 decibels
  • Material: Polyurethane foam
  • Included Pairs: 3, 5, 7, 10, 50, or 100 

Most Comfortable Earplugs

Alpine SleepDeep Earplugs

4.2
Alpine SleepDeep Ear Plugs

Amazon

Who it’s for: People looking for comfortable earplugs that will stay in place for hours.

Who it isn’t for: People who want a more discrete earplug.

Though they’re designed for use while sleeping, Alpine’s SleepDeep Earplugs are so comfortable they can be used for working, using tools, or any other time you need to give your ears a break. They have an innovative oval shape that is made to match the ear canal, so you can hardly feel them when they’re in. Though extremely lightweight, these reusable earbuds are filled with a noise-reducing gel—their superpower against noise.

They offer a 27-decibel noise reduction, and they stay in place as you toss and turn (though, hopefully, they’ll reduce your need to do so). They’re so comfy, you won’t feel them even if you sleep on your side. Each earplug comes with a white tab that you pull to remove. However, these tabs stick out a bit, so they’re not what you would call attractive or stylish if you don’t have long hair to hide them behind, but they definitely do the job.

Price at time of publish: $18

Product Details:

  • NRR: 27 decibels
  • Material: AlpineThermoShape (thermoplastic)
  • Included Pairs: Two

Best Earplugs for Everyday

Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs

4.2
Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a set of earplugs they can easily take on the go for use at concerts, sporting events, or other loud environments. 

Who it isn’t for: People who need earplugs for blocking out high decibel levels, like power tools. 

Perfect for everyday wear, and especially for those sensitive to noise, the reusable Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs offer up to 16 decibels of noise protection, meaning you’ll still be able to hear all the important things, even conversations—it just won’t be blaringly loud. Similar to the Alpine SleepDeep Earplugs above, the Eargasm earplugs have an oval shape that is designed to fit snugly in the ear canal for ultimate comfort. The main difference is that these are transparent (although you can get them with a yellow, blue, or gold ring) so they aren’t as visible.

They come with a cool aluminum screw-top case with a keyring, meaning you can put them on your keys or on a lanyard so you don’t lose them. Two sizes come in each set to ensure you have the perfect fit (you can even give the second set to a partner, making them value-for-money, too). They can considerably cut the noise down even at concerts, but they’re not great for sleeping in, and could wriggle out when you’re chewing.

Price at time of publish: $42

Product Details:

  • NRR: 16 decibels
  • Material: Silicone
  • Included Pairs: Two

Best Foam Earplugs

3M E-A-Rsoft Yellow Neon Earplugs

3M E-A-Rsoft Yellow Neons Earplugs

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want to purchase disposable foam earplugs in bulk. 

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer reusable earplugs and people with large ear canals.

You’re all but guaranteed to never lose these earplugs from 3M thanks to their bright neon yellow color. Not that they’ll ever fall out of your ear—their super pliable and bouncy foam construction ensures they’ll stay put for as long as you want them to. As some of the best earplugs around, they’re comfortable for sleeping in, but their whopping 33-decibel noise reduction capability means you can wear them to concerts, or when using noisy tools such as drills, chainsaws, or leaf blowers.

With 200 individually packaged pairs in each bottle, it works out to an incredibly affordable 13 cents per pair, and the pack will last you over six months if you wear them everyday. Having said that, although they are disposable, many people find that they can get a few uses out of each pair, as long as you gently clean them in between uses. Some, however, might find them to be a little too small for their larger ear canals.

Price at time of publish: $26

Product Details:

  • NRR: 33 decibels
  • Material: Polyurethane foam
  • Included Pairs: 200

Best Earplugs for Sleep

Anbow Silicone Ear Plugs

4.9
ANBOW Reusable Silicone Ear Plugs

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who have noise-related trouble sleeping.

Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want to have to thoroughly clean their earbuds every day.

Three different-sized BPA-free silicone earplugs come in this reusable and noise-canceling set, allowing you to get the perfect fit. The silicone section—which enables you to pull the plug out of your ear—can be cut down to size, further customizing the experience. As opposed to foam earplugs, these ones don’t expand in the ear, but the three-tiered design efficiently blocks out unwanted noise. This design, however, means you’ll need to give them a daily thorough wash. This is easy enough to do—simply rinse them under a tap and clean them with alcohol wipes or cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl alcohol.

These affordable earplugs are soft and comfortable, and are even suitable for side sleepers, as long as you trim the bit that sticks out. These earplugs seal off the ear canal so well that you can even use them while swimming—something many other silicone options don’t allow for. They offer 32 decibels of noise protection, but still allow you to hear important sounds, like your alarm, or a smoke alarm. The set comes in a travel pouch, and each pair comes in its own plastic case. Also included is a detachable lanyard that lets you hang the earplugs around your neck when not in use.

Price at time of publish: $16

Product Details:

  • NRR: 32 decibels
  • Material: Silicone
  • Included Pairs: Three

Best Earplugs for Flying

EarPlanes Original Earplugs

EarPlanes Adult Ear Plugs Airplane Travel Ear Protection

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who have flying-related ear discomfort.

Who it isn’t for: People who want earplugs for more than just travel use.

Anyone who has even been on an airplane will know that blocked ears and the constant dull buzzing (which can last for a while post-flight) is no fun, but some people do get it worse than others. If you suffer from flight-related earaches, or are extremely bothered by the loud and uncomfortable noises, as well as the change in air pressure while on an airplane, the EarPlanes Earplugs are specially designed for you. These earplugs have a special ceramic filter that slows down the pressure shift that reaches your ear drum, greatly reducing any related pain or discomfort. 

Reducing the overall cabin noise by 20 decibels, these earplugs are made from a soft silicone that’s comfortable and fits in the ear tightly and snugly. Children are particularly susceptible to airplane-related ear discomfort, and we love that the EarPlanes are available for kids, too. The other great thing is that there’s a free EarPlanes+ smartphone app that can measure the cabin air pressure, notifying you when it’s time to put your earplugs in, in case you forget. 

Price at time of publish: $18 for 3-pack

Product Details:

  • NRR: 20 decibels
  • Material: Silicone
  • Number of Pairs: 1, 3, 10

Best Bluetooth Earplugs

Bose Sleepbuds II

4.5
Bose Sleepbuds II

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who can’t sleep without a noise machine.

Who it isn’t for: People who don’t want to spend a lot on earplugs.

White noise machines have been helping people get to sleep for decades; the only problem is, whoever you share your bed with must be subjected to the same sounds—and some people absolutely hate them. The Bose Sleepbuds II allow you to listen to your soothing sleep sounds without disturbing your partner in the process. They’re also easily portable so you won’t have to carry your noise machine around anywhere you travel. These earplugs allow you to drown out any external ruckus if you live in a busy city, as well as any unwanted internal noises. 

The Bose Sleepbuds II might be on the pricier end of the spectrum, but they’ve been specially designed to provide your ambient sleep sounds while not damaging the hearing. They don’t have noise cancellation on their own, but the addition of the provided sounds with a volume of up to 80 decibels allows external noises to be efficiently drowned out. At maximum volume their battery lasts around 15 hours, so you’ll have to charge them every couple of days, but there’s a handy indicator letting you know how much life is left. 

Price at time of publish: $249

Product Details:

  • NRR: N/A
  • Material: Silicone, plastic
  • Number of Pairs: One

Final Verdict

The reusable Loop Quiet Earplugs are our top choice for the best earplugs. They have a 27-decibel Noise Reduction Rating, a stylish aesthetic which is available in six colorways, and are great value-for-money at under $20.

How to Shop for Earplugs Like a Pro

Noise Reduction

The best earplugs for you depend on how much noise reduction you’re after. Earplugs typically come with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), which measures the noise reduction provided by a hearing protection device in decibels. The NRR is the U.S. standard, whereas the EU standard is the SNR (single number rating), which is essentially the same thing.

A normal conversation produces a sound level of approximately 60 decibels. It would be approximately 80 decibels in a busy restaurant, and 100 decibels in a nightclub. Industrial machinery can produce noise levels up to around 130 decibels.

“Noise levels over 120 decibels can cause immediate and permanent damage to your hearing, and so hearing protection must be worn in those situations,” warns Fletcher. “Additionally, with regular exposure, noise levels between 70 decibels and 100 decibels for extended periods will likely cause permanent hearing damage. Therefore, if you are regularly exposed to noise levels of 100 decibels or more, you should wear earplugs with an NRR of at least 32 decibels or over.”

Earplugs available to buy online or at a pharmacy are usually available with anything from 10–30 (or more) NRR. For more specialized protection, it is best to go to a hearing clinic where you can get assistance from trained hearing specialists.

Material

Reusable earplugs are typically made from silicone or rubber. As they are a standard size, they will not fit your ear canal in the same way as custom-made earplugs. However, most earplugs come in several sizes so you can find the most appropriate fit for you. Fletcher recommends opting for earplugs made from high-grade silicone, which can easily be cleaned with soap and water, and is more durable.

“You can also buy reusable earplugs that have filters, which means you can reduce background noise and still hear voices and have conversations,” Fletcher advises. Another type of earplug is electronic and has acoustic filters designed for musicians to reduce noise at specific pitches. This enables the music to be heard at safe noise levels while maintaining sound quality.

Intended Use

“Standard reusable earplugs are most suitable if you only need to protect your ears from noise now and again,” Fletcher says, “or from background noise that can keep you awake at night, such as blocking out your partner's snoring!”

He also advises that while many over-the-counter type earplugs are designed for use when swimming to protect ears from water, or are made to block out background noise, these earplugs may not offer adequate protection from louder noises, such as at concerts or in environments with loud machinery.

For more specialized hearing protection, Fletcher recommends custom-made earplugs. These are designed to perfectly fit your ear canal shape and provide more effective protection against noise. These are created with molds made from impressions of your ear canal and concha (the hollow bowl shape next to the ear canal). This means they will feel more comfortable to wear, especially if worn for a long time when working or traveling. You can also choose the correct NRR figure for the environment you need to use them. Additionally, they can last for several years.

Questions You Might Ask

How do earplugs work?

Earplugs protect the delicate hairs and nerves and your ear drums from damaging noise levels by reducing noise that can reach your ears. The term used to describe this noise reduction is attenuation. Attenuation is measured in decibels (dB) or an NRR figure. For example, most industry-standard earplugs carry an NRR of between 25 and 32 decibels of noise exposure. This means they reduce noise levels by between 25 and 32 decibels. For example, if a sound measures 140 decibels, and you’re wearing hearing protection with a 30 decibel NRR, only 110 decibels will reach your inner ear.

Are earplugs reusable?

Some earplugs are reusable. “You can purchase custom-made reusable earplugs or standard reusable earplugs, typically made from silicone or rubber,” Fletcher says. “They can be washed with warm water and soap after use and reused, but they will degrade over time after many uses.”

Do any earplugs block all noise?

“There are no earplugs that block out all noise,” Fletcher says. “If you want the best earplugs to eliminate as much noise as possible, look for an NRR figure of 32 decibels or over. Also, custom-made earplugs will reduce most noise because they completely fit your ear canal.”

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Kat de Naoum, who has over 10 years of commerce-writing experience. Kat is also the Commerce Editor-at-Large at Thomas-Xometry, the leading U.S. online platform for supplier discovery and product sourcing. For this article, Kat reviewed and tested multiple earplugs, and researched and considered factors such as each earplug set’s size, material, style, intended use, and noise reduction. She also spoke to Lee Fletcher, RHAD, BSHAA, principal audiologist at Regain Hearing.

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  1. Ikuta N, Iwanaga R, Tokunaga A, Nakane H, Tanaka K, Tanaka G. Effectiveness of earmuffs and noise-cancelling headphones for coping with hyper-reactivity to auditory stimuli in children with autism spectrum disorder: A preliminary study. Hong Kong J Occup Ther. 2016 Dec;28(1):24-32. doi:10.1016/j.hkjot.2016.09.001

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