What Are the Different Types of Earplugs?

By Staff Reporter , Updated Feb 28, 2020 07:58 AM EST
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What Are the Different Types of Earplugs?
(Photo: What Are the Different Types of Earplugs?)

Earplugs are a fantastic tool for protecting your ears and they can be used in many different situations. Investing in earplugs before your next concert or for everyday use at work will protect you from hearing loss.

While you're likely familiar with the stereotypical neon orange or green foam earplugs, there are multiple various styles of earplugs. This can apply to differences like how many times you can use them, what they're made with, how they fit in your ear, and if they have any special features.

With this in mind, you can likely see that earplugs are not all the same. Some earplugs are more comfortable than others and some are more effective at blocking sound.

To understand which earplug you'll like the best, you should know what the options available to you are. We'll simplify this by going over the four main types of earplugs below.

Disposable Foam Earplugs

The most common type of earplugs is the disposable foam style.

Disposable foam earplugs are as barebones as it gets. They are inexpensive and are typically sold in bulk.

This is because they're meant to be used just a single time. Once you're done with them, they can be easily tossed in the trash.

While foam earplugs are cheap, they can still effectively block out noise. The primary concern with them is that they come in standardized sizes.

This means that they may not fit perfectly. Additionally, they aren't very comfortable. The lack of comfort and good fit can make them frustrating to use if you need ear protection regularly. 

With this in mind, disposable foam earplugs are great if you just need ear protection for a single event like a concert.

Reusable Earplugs

The opposite of disposable earplugs is reusable earplugs.

Reusable earplugs are made from a variety of materials, but silicone, rubber, vinyl, and high-quality foam are the most common.

Unlike disposable earplugs, these can be used several times. They're made of better materials that make them more durable and this keeps them effective for more than just a single-use.

Another aspect of many reusable earplugs is that they can be washed. If you've ever used earplugs or earphones before, then you know how they can get gunked up with earwax.

You probably won't want to reuse earplugs with earwax on them, so having a washable style makes them more appealing.

Reusable earplugs are a little more expensive than disposable ones, but their longevity makes them a good purchase. They work best for a situation requiring ear protection across multiple days like during a construction project at your house.

Moldable Silicone Earplugs

Another great type of earplug is the moldable silicone style.

These are also reusable, but they are significantly different from a standard set of reusable plugs. 

The main difference is how these are styled. Moldable silicone earplugs are adapted to fit an individual user's ear, rather than being one-size-fits-all.

This means that they're a perfect fit for your ears and are exceptionally comfortable. They offer fantastic ear protection because of how they sit on your ears. Instead of being plugged into your ear canal, these form a seal over your ear canal.

Moldable silicone earplugs are one of the most comfortable styles around. The one drawback is that they're more expensive than disposable or standard reusable earplugs. 

If you need frequent ear protection, then moldable silicone earplugs are a great investment. You can use them for sleeping, work, shooting, or anything else you do regularly.  

Electronic Earplugs

The final type of earplugs you might want to use is electronic earplugs.

These are the most expensive style you can buy, but they are unlike any other earplug you can use. The reason for this is that most earplugs are passive while electronic earplugs are active.

What this means is that they have features designed to filter out loud noises. Many also have microphones in them that allow you to pick up quieter sounds.

For example, wearing a great pair of electronic earplugs would allow you to have a full conversation with someone while being protected against louder noises in the background.

Not only do electronic earplugs offer additional functionality, but they are also quite comfortable. You'll typically have several different tips to use, most of which are made of silicone or foam. One of them is sure to be a good fit that you won't mind using all the time.

One last thing to think about is that electronic earplugs will either require a battery or frequent charging. They can function as passive earplugs without a charge, but you won't have active noise filtering available.

Electronic earplugs are a great choice for someone who works in a loud environment and needs to communicate with coworkers. Alternatively, they're a great purchase for anyone who just wants to use the best earplugs.

Closing Thoughts

If you need a great source of protection for your ears, then earplugs are a great way to keep your hearing safe. 

Earplugs are made in several different styles and your choice will affect how comfortable you are while wearing them. Consider what situation you'll be wearing the earplugs in and this will determine which style works best.

The four main styles you'll choose from include disposable foam earplugs, reusable styles, moldable silicone models, and electronic earplugs. These all vary in material make and price, but most are capable of blocking out heavy noise.

Ear protection is not something to take lightly and this means you should be careful about which earplugs you choose to buy! 

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