How to Choose Ear Plugs
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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.

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Evan
1 month ago.
My son, a gymnast, was invited to join his high school's dive team. He is very prone to ear infections, however, and has already developed on in his first month of training. His ears tend to be a bit sensitive, too, so comfort is very important or he won't use them. Lastly, he's a teenage boy. If they look too goody (e.g., stick far out of his ears) he'll be self conscious and won't use them. I'm sure that's a tall order, but what would you suggest we try?
SwimOutlet
1 month ago.
Hello Evan,

I would recommend the Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Ear Plugs. These fit inside the ear and will form to his unique contours of the ear. They do not stick out of the ear and they are a #1 Doctor Recommended Ear Plug to prevent Swimmers Ear. I have included a link below for you to view.

https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/macks-pillow-soft-silicone-ear-plugs-6-pair-13238/
Helen
5 months ago.
I have struggled to get swimming ear plugs to fit. Even the moulded made to measure ones were not good because I have relatively flat ears. What do you recommend that I do
Swimoutlet.com
4 months ago.
Hello Helen!
We recommend trying an ergonomic ear plug such as the Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs (product code 22107) with a swim cap or an ear band to help keep them in your ears.
Helen
4 months ago.
Thanks I'll give them a go
Veeraj
5 months ago.
I have a pin point hole in my left ear drum... Which kind of ear plugs will waterproof my ears while swimming... Plz suggest some products..
Swimoutlet.com
5 months ago.
Hello!
Any of the style ear plugs will work, it really is just swimmers preference. Our suggestion to make sure that no water gets into your ear is to also wear an ear band to make sure that the ear plugs do not fall out.
Bill.
6 months ago.
Hi, I had a mastoid operation around 20-25 yrs ago to remove some desied bone that created a small pocket inside the ear,
At the time I was advised by the surgeon not to get water in my left ear at all.
However I would love to go swimming in the sea, Not underwater unless by accident and I wondered if I wore an earplug in my left ear what type would be best for this and or should I stick to the original advice of the surgeon.
Kind regards Bill.
Swimoutlet.com
6 months ago.
Hi Bill!
We recommend that you consult with your doctor as you run the risk of any type of ear plug falling out of your ear. The Mack's Pillow Soft Ear Plugs are a good option as these will form to any shaped ear.
Celia
6 months ago.
I have a broad and shallow outer ear and a shallow ear canal so most earplugs fall out easily. Could you suggest something that will suit my ear shape?
SwimOutlet.com
6 months ago.
Hello Celia,

We recommend trying the Mack's Pillow Soft Ear Plugs. These mold-able silicone earplugs that are doctor recommended to seal out water. They are made to mold to the unique contours of any ear.
Larry VanDeSande
7 months ago.
I swim laps three times a week. I use a generic drug store brand of moldable ear plugs because they are better than Macks. However, it takes two or three of them to plug my right ear. Then they go into the canal and push the wax in further. I am in treatment for ear wax removal now,.I have tried spindles with gradated plugs; they hurt me. Have any suggestions?
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hello Larry!
We recommend trying an ergonomic ear plug such as the Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs (product code 22107) with a swim cap to help keep them in your ears.
Kelly
7 months ago.
Hi,
I have had several surgeries for my ears due to Eustachian tube malfunctions so I can only swim above water. I have tried many ear plugs without success and now my 8 yr old grand daughter has the same issues. I am looking for ear plugs that are waterproof and for kids and adults. I don't care about sound but water proof is a must. I'm going to have the sx for my ears Thursday which the use a balloon to open the eustachian tubes and then insert more tubes in ear drums. This should be the one to end all the tube sx which never work. I do still need ear plugs because since I was a child I cannot stand anything liquid in my ears. I hope you have something that works and my grand daughter was using a set of putty type plugs a month ago but she is so scared of the water getting in her ears and when she pulled the putty out a piece was still lodged in her ear canal and we couldn't get it out. She ended up needing sx to have it removed.
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hi Kelly!
The Speedo Silicone Ear Plugs are going to be these best option. They are mold-able but they made a soft "piutty" material.
Isaac
7 months ago.
Hi! I find my ears very sensitive to water. I get water in my ears when swimming and diving in the pool. After a few days it starts hurting in my ears. I'm 12 years old and my ears canals are quite small. What kind of earplugs would be suitable, to keep water out but are still comfortable?
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hi Isaac!
We recommend a moldable ear plug such as the Sporti Soft Silicone Molded Ear Plugs Adult (product code 8133164) or the Mack's Pillow Soft Ear Plugs 6 Pair (product code 13238).
Sofia
7 months ago.
Hi! I'm a competitive swimmer, so I swim basicly every single day. I have had sensitive ears my whole life, and have gotten swimmers ear and ear infections a lot. To fix this, I need something that blocks out water, but little to no sound. I need to be able to hear the coaches. Thanks! By the way, I have kid-sided ears.
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hello Sofia,
We recommend the Cirrus AquaEars. They block the water out while still allowing sound to get in.
Ellie
7 months ago.
I get water in my ears a lot and last time I got it in them it was in there for 3 months and caused hearing loss, what's your recommendation?
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hello Ellie,
We recommend a moldable ear plug such as the Sporti Soft Silicone Molded Ear Plugs Adult (product code 8133164) or the Mack's Pillow Soft Ear Plugs 6 Pair (product code 13238). These will keep water out but will not "invade" your ear canal.
Anna
9 months ago.
Hi! I'm going to Hawaii in a month and we're going to be in the water a lot. My ears are very sensitive to water and I've had a lot of troubles with that in the past. I don't like it when earplugs go far in my ear because I I feel like they go too far and will hurt my ears. What can I use to keep water out completely but won't go deep into my ear??
swimoutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hi Anna!
We suggest a moldable ear plug for you like the Mack's Pillow Soft Ear Plugs. These do not go far in your ear like some of the other ear plugs but they do keep the water out!
Robert
1 year ago.
Hello, I have a 3 yr old son who has a ruptured ear drum. The Doctor said he can not get any water in his ear for months. We are going on vacation to Mexico in 2 months and have a swim up pool. The Doctor said we could get waterproof ear plugs for him. What is our best option???
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Robert,
The brand Mack's makes high quality ear plugs. Check out this option Mack's Pillow Soft Ear Plugs - Kids Size (Product Code 1181). This option should work well.
Sydney
1 year ago.
My water workout instructor has an extremely loud and piercing voice. What is the best product - in the ear or over the ear - that will muffle the sound. (He demonstrates the moves, so I don't really need to hear him.) I'd also like to keep water out of my ears, but that is my #2 consideration.
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Sydney,
We suggest the Mack's Aqua Block Ear Plugs to block some sound and water!
Andy M.
1 year ago.
Our daughter is a high school/club spring board diver who regularly gets ear infections resulting from water in the ear canal (swimmers ear). Do you have a suggestion for plugs that will remain in during the impact of diving?
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Andy,
We suggest the Arena Dome Ear Plugs Pro (Product code 8136709). The shape of the ear plugs tend to work well with divers.
Maria
1 year ago.
My 8 year old son had a trastimpanic tubes surgery. Is there any plugs to dive in the water? or all plugs are likely to stay on the surface of the water? which plugs do you recomend for him to play safely in the water?
Thanks.
sporshi
1 year ago.
Hi, can I use silicone made ear plugs both for swimming and reading purpose?
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Sporshi,
Yes, you can use them for both.
Haesoon Gotel
1 year ago.
Are the ear plus same size as kids and adults?
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Haesoon, Ear plugs generally come in two sizes in kids and adults. Most of our selection is for adults unless specified for kids. For example, if you are looking for kids size the Mack's Pillow Soft Ear Plugs - Kids Size will work.
Suman
1 year ago.
I have very sensitive ear so I don't dip my ears while swimming. I really want to go inside water. I put cotton ball inside my ear and wear swim cap but I don't trust that. I need something that can completely block water.
Thank You
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Suman, Please check out the Mack's Ear Seals Ear Plugs (Product Code 2241), it is a great option for water blockage.
Barb
1 year ago.
I want earplugs that keep out the water, but keep as much sound as possible. I get swimmers ear, but noise cancelling means never hearing a conversation while I'm swimming.
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Barb, we offer the Creatures Surf Ears which keeps water out while providing the max amount of hearing.
L.
1 year ago.
Are foam types, usually used for cancelling out noise, ok to use for a quick underwater dunk, i.e. being baptised. I don't like the screw in type,usually use for underwater.
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi L, The foam is for noise cancellation and wouldn't work well for water use. Since you don't like the screw style, check out the Mack's Pillow Soft Ear Plugs 6 Pair (Product Code 13238). These are waterproof and comfortable.
Dan
1 year ago.
Hello, for surfing, what would you recommended? Thank you.
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Dan,
Check out the Mack's Aqua Block Ear Plugs. These are one of the best ear plugs we offer.
Larry
1 year ago.
I just got swimmers ear and I would like to ask whats the best earplug to prevent water from getting in. I have a meet in a week and i cant get out of shape. Thanks!
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Larry, Check out the Mack's Aqua Block Ear Plugs (Product Code 2240). These will definitely help!
Matthew Cawley
1 year ago.
Not really a swimming question, but I work in an industrial setting that is very dirty. I mean really dirty. The ear plugs we have at work are more for noise reduction, which has its place, but I'm looking for something for the purpose of keeping the dust and dirt out of my ears. If I get a buildup of dust in my ears and then use the noise reducing earplugs my ear canal becomes irritated because it gets little scratches when I remove the plugs and then sometimes gets infected because of the irritation. My ENT doc gave me some cortisone drops that help, but he said I couldn't use q-tips to clean the dust out any more because it was increasing the irritation. Can you recommend something to keep fine dust particles out of my ears? I'm talking floaty airborne dust and also showers of dust from piles that buildup of horizontal surfaces and get knocked off when performing my work. Thanks in advance for your advice.
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Matthew,
I'd recommend either the FINIS Ear Plugs (product code 1995) or Zoggs Aqua Plugz L/XL (product code 8120115). These are both great options, but I cannot guarantee they will keep the dust particles out of your ear. I hope this helps. Have a great day!
Juanita Hoecherl
1 year ago.
I have swimmers ear and have to keep my ears dry and my ears are real sensitive. Which ear plugs do you recommend?
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Juanita,
I recommend the Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs (Product Code 22107). These are ergonomically shaped and are very comfortable. I hope this helps!
Dimitrios
2 years 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) ?
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