Can You Wash Earplugs: A Comprehensive Guide to Earplug Maintenance

Man trying to wash earplugs
Man trying to wash earplugs

Our earplugs pick up dirt every time we use them. Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning your favorite hearing-safety buddies!

For all the benefits earplugs offer in noisy settings, there’s one caveat: they can get dirty quickly. Earwax can accumulate on your earplugs after a few uses, rendering them unusable.

Of course, you can always toss them out when they become too dirty in exchange for new ones. But you’ll eventually get tired of spending money weekly on new earplugs.

So, how do you care for dirty earplugs to make them last longer and reduce the cost of purchasing new ones weekly? Can you wash earplugs?

This article aims to answer all that and more as we discuss the best practices for cleaning different earplug types. Dive in to learn more!

Can You Wash Earplugs?

Yes, you can clean earplugs, depending on the type you use. Here’s what you should know about cleaning the different types of earplugs:

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of washing earplugs but also don’t want to keep buying them, check out our guide for some cheap and effective DIY earplugs alternatives you can try.

Foam earplugs

Form earplugs (From: Amazon)
Form earplugs (From: Amazon)

Form earplugs are washable. However, they often suffer a drop in quality and effectiveness whenever you clean them.

Typically, the foam retains moisture after cleaning and increases in size, making it difficult to fit into your ear.

If the earplugs eventually fit, the excessive moisture makes them a breeding ground for bacteria, and you risk an ear infection if you continue to use them.

Aside from that, constant exposure to water and cleaning agents affects the foam’s density, causing it to harden over time.

Moldable earplugs

PQ Wax Pillow Earplugs (From: Amazon)
PQ Wax Pillow Earplugs (From: Amazon)

You can clean moldable earplugs, although not like the other types. These types cannot handle the wear and tear cleaning can cause – especially with water exposure.

Unlike other types, these are the most disposable ones, lasting only for up to 5-10 uses before they need to be thrown away.

Pre-molded earplugs

Silicone earplugs (From: Amazon)
Silicone earplugs (From: Amazon)

Pre-molded and reusable earplugs are a preference for many earplug users because they’re washable with relative ease. Besides, they’re quite durable, and you can reuse them multiple times.

That said, regardless of the type of earplugs you use, regularly cleaning them has several benefits, including:

  • Lifespan extension
  • Getting rid of wax and bacteria buildup that could cause infections

How to Clean Foam Earplugs

Here’s how to clean foam earplugs quickly:

  1. First, fill a small bowl of lukewarm water then prepare any hand wash soap.

    Prepare the cleaning solution (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
    Prepare the cleaning solution (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
  2. Dip the foam earplugs in the water.

    Earplugs in the water bowl (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
    Earplugs in the water bowl (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
  3. Lather a little bit of hand wash soap.

    Washing foam earplugs with hand soap (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
    Washing foam earplugs with hand soap (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
  4. Then scrub and squeeze it nicely to remove any dirt or earwax stuck on the surface.

    Removing dirt from foam earplugs (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
    Removing dirt from foam earplugs (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
  5. Dip in the water to rinse all dirt and soap while squeezing it until the soap is removed.

    Rinsing foam earplugs (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
    Rinsing foam earplugs (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
  6. Lastly, Squeeze off excess water then let it dry.

    Squeezing excess water off of foam earplugs (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)
    Squeezing excess water off of foam earplugs (From: Youtube/Nair Mentions)

How to Clean Pre-Molded Earplugs

Pre-molded, reusable earplugs are popular for their durability, meaning you can reuse them multiple times.

Nonetheless, you must maintain them to retain their effectiveness throughout their lifetime.

Here’s our handy guide to washing your non-moldable earplugs:

  1. Inspect each earplug to check if no earwax, skin debris

    Checking earplugs (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
    Checking earplugs (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
  2. Use a toothpick or interdental brush to carefully remove any foreign matter. Place the earplugs in the water and soap solution for 30-40 minutes.

    Cleaning earplugs with interdental brush (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
    Cleaning earplugs with interdental brush (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
  3. Mix a bowl of warm water with a cleaning solution (dish soap or hydrogen peroxide).

    Cleaning solution for pre-molded earplugs (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
    Cleaning solution for pre-molded earplugs (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
  4. Soak the earplugs in the warm water solution for some minutes to loosen the earwax on them.

    Soaking pre-molded earplugs in cleaning solution (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
    Soaking pre-molded earplugs in cleaning solution (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
  5. After soaking, use steriles wipes to clean the edges of the filter and dry off the water solution.

    Using sterile wipes to clean earplugs (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
    Using sterile wipes to clean earplugs (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
  6. Let the earplugs dry before reusing or storing.

    Air drying the earplugs (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)
    Air drying the earplugs (From: Facebook/Pacific Ears)

How to Clean Moldable Earplugs

Moldable earplugs typically come in wax or silicone flat discs that require some form of manipulation before you can use them.

You’d need to heat these discs, cool them, and mold them into shapes that fit your ear carnal.

However, moldable earplugs can be challenging to clean due to their design.

The only way to clean them is to wipe off excessive wax carefully to avoid deforming them. This process won’t remove all of them, though.

Earplug Maintenance Tips

Two common questions you’ll often hear from folks who use earplugs frequently are, can you wash earplugs, and what can you clean earplugs with?

Cleaning your earplugs can make them last longer, but, as mentioned above, some types can only last through limited washing cycles.

Several other maintenance practices can prevent your earplugs from getting dirty too often, reducing the number of times you need to wash them.

Briefly, we’ve detailed some helpful care tips to help extend the life of your earplugs, depending on the type you use.

Foam earplugs

Disposable foam earplugs quickly lose their flexibility when you use or wash them too often. So, to ensure they don’t suffer damage too quickly, you should:

  • Keep them in their case whenever you’re not using them. This way, you limit their exposure to dirt.
  • Only wear your earplugs when necessary. Don’t use them too often; they could get dirty quickly and require washing.
  • Keep your ears clean and wax-free. Visit your healthcare provider to get rid of excessive earwax to avoid soiling your earplugs.
  • Replace your foam earplugs immediately if they’ve lost their elasticity or become too dirty to clean via washing.

Pre-molded earplugs

Pre-molded earplugs last longer than other earplug types, often lasting up to 4 weeks with proper care.

Here are some extra care tips to keep your earplugs effective and neat throughout their life cycle:

  • Ensure your ears are clean before using your reusable earplugs to prevent earwax or grime from getting on them.
  • Don’t share your non-moldable earplugs with anyone.
  • Store them in a small case to limit exposure to dust and dirt.
  • Don’t place your earplugs in their container if they’re wet.
    Wet earplugs are a breeding ground for bacteria, which could lead to an ear infection when you use them.
  • Always examine them before use. Don’t insert dirty earplugs into your ear canal.
  • Wash your reusable earplugs as often as possible, especially when you notice dirt on their surfaces.
  • Don’t use solvents, alcohol, or alcohol-based disinfectants to wash your earplugs.
  • Replace your pre-molded earplugs every 2-4 weeks. If you use push-in foam earplugs, replace them every five days.

Moldable earplugs

Moldable earplugs are challenging to wash because of their design materials.

Instead of cleaning, here are some hygiene guidelines to keep your moldable earplugs dirt-free:

  • Always wash your hands before inserting moldable earplugs into your ears.
  • Tie back long or loose hair while molding earplugs into your ear to avoid hair getting stuck in the material.
  • Once they’re in your ears, avoid touching them needlessly unless you want to take them out. The more you touch them, the more they pick up dirt from your hands.
  • Always place earplugs in their container whenever they’re not in use.
  • Replace your moldable earplugs after five uses or once they’re too dirty or lose their malleability.

Conclusion

It’s common knowledge that earplugs get dirty with consistent use. If you’ve had to deal with dirty earplugs recently, you’ve probably wondered, “can you wash earplugs?”

Yes, earplugs can be washed; and we’ve shown you how in this article.

With the cleaning and maintenance tips shared here, you can extend the lifespan of your earplugs and save money on getting new ones every week.

We’ll love to hear from you. How often do you clean your noise protection devices? What are some maintenance practices you use for your earplugs? Let us know in the comments.

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