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How to Choose Ear Plugs

For people with sensitive ears or especially-narrow ear canals, trapped water can lead to frequent and painful ear infections. Swimming ear plugs — if they fit — can stop water from getting in your ear canals as you swim, thereby preventing ear infections. Ear plug options are the same for children and adults, although children may need a little extra assistance when putting their ear plugs in. This guide explains what to look for when choosing ear plugs for swimming.

Ear Plug Styles

First of all, make sure that the ear plugs are designed for use in the water. Noise-cancelling ear plugs are not designed for swimming and will not create a sufficient, watertight seal.

  • Flanged: Flanged ear plugs are a universal-fit, conical shape with multiple flanges that act as barriers against water. They are typically less expensive than other models, and are thus a good starting point for those new to swimming ear plugs.
  • Ergonomic: Ergonomic ear plugs are shaped to fit snugly inside the ear and lay flat against the outer ear, more so than flanged models. Each pair comes with one plug shaped specifically for the right ear and one for the left.
  • Moldable: Moldable silicone putty that is applied to the outer ear canal to form a comfortable, custom-fitting, waterproof seal, regardless of ear shape.

Ear Plug Materials

Ear plug material options include moldable silicone, silicone, and soft plastics.

  • If you are allergic to latex, make sure that the model you choose is latex-free. The majority of earplugs are, but a handful of brands do use some latex.
  • Soft, moldable silicone is a hypo-allergenic and reusable ear plug material option.
  • If you are a frequent swimmer, look for earplugs made of a material that can be reused many times, or earplug sets come with multiples to account for loss.

Ear Plug Tips

Consider purchasing and wearing a silicone or latex swim cap pulled over your ears as another layer of protection against water. You may also want to buy ear drops or ear-drying tools to use after your swim to remove any water that managed to get past your ear plugs.

Remember that ear plugs come in many different styles, each with their own benefits. Since they are fairly inexpensive, don't be afraid to try out multiple styles to see which works best for you. Having the correct fit and a watertight seal is worth the extra time, money, and effort of trying several models.

Shop all Ear Plugs

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4 months ago.
I have tried the Speedo earplugs but I cannot wear them if I am wearing a swimming cap over my ears (which I always do to get hair out of the way) because I feel like the plug is being pushed further inside my ear and I am afraid I will traumatize it. Any suggestions on which ones to use ? I was thinking of the silicone ones that go over the ear (not inside it) but can someone tell me if they will still be pushed inside or not when wearing a cap (as I don't want to buy them and then realize they are not working as I want them to) ?
9 months ago.
I am getting ready to do a open water swim next month. My part will be 12 miles. I just got diagnosed with a eardrum rapture and am supposed to keep ear dry. What would you suggest?
9 months ago.
Hi Franziska,
I would suggest that you go with moldable ear plugs. You can mold the ear plugs to custom fit to keep water out vs the regular ear plugs. Below is a link to our moldable ear plugs. Let us know if you have any questions. Good luck with your open water swim!
11 months ago.
I really want to get into swimming this summer. I have a lot of friends that swim and they all really enjoy it. The only problem is that I always get water in my ears. What is the best kind of ear plugs on the market?
11 months ago.
Hi Jim,

The highest rated and most popular ones that we carry are:

Cirrus AquaEars

Mack's Ear Seals Earplugs

Sporti Ear Plugs with Hooks

Let us know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day!
mike b
2 years ago.
i had shingles and my left ear canal is now bigger than my right. i need waterproof ear plugs, any suggestions
2 years ago.
Hi Mike,

Since your ear canals are different sizes, I would recommend going with moldable ear plugs. Our most popular ones are the:

Mack's Pillow Soft Earplugs 6 Pair

Let us know if you have any further questions. Have a wonderful day!
Gwen Fillinger
2 years ago.
Where can I find the ear transperency for the ear plugs. I bought two pair recently from swim outlet and want to make sure before I use them that they are the right size.
Thanks! Gwen
2 years ago.
What would be the best fit for a six year old ? Please respond to my e-mail I am not on face book . Thanks
2 years ago.
Hi Carl,

Great question. Your best bet is to go with ear plugs made in kids size. An example is the Mack's Pillow Soft Earplugs - Kids Size, which can be found on our site at

Hope that helps!

Barbara A.
3 years ago.
I have a problem hearing instructions at competitions ... It means a delayed 80 I have some hearing loss but not enough to use a hearing aid...what ear plugs do you suggest? Thanks. Barbara
3 years ago.
Hi Barbara,

Earplugs for swimming are mainly used for noise reduction, hearing protection, and helping to prevent swimmer's ear. They help keep the water out of your ear canal which may help with your hearing, but that is not its main function.

Still, it's a good idea to wear earplugs to protect your ears from infections. Many swimmers have mentioned that it helps them focus on swimming because they don't have to worry about water going into their ears!

You can view our earplug collection here, and choose from the highest rated items:

Hope that helps.

Thank you,
David Tavarczky
3 years ago.
The cost of ear plugs? Your reduced prices is the price for one or a pair ? Please advise soon!!!!!
3 years ago.
Hi David,

The costs of our ear plugs vary depending on which type you purchase. They can be anywhere from $1.95-$11.95. Ear plugs are sold by pairs. You can view our ear plug collection here:

Thank you,
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