best earplugs for swimming

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If you are a swimmer, chances are you have gotten water stuck in your ear. And if you are looking for a solution to keep water out of your ears, then look no further than earplugs designed for swimming.

Getting water stuck in your ear is painful. It can cause disorientation and lead to a bacteria infection in your ear canal known as swimmer’s ear. This good news is that you can easily use earplugs to prevent this from happening!

There are several different types of earplugs for swimming designed for varying uses. We breakdown each type to help you find the best pair for your swimming needs.

best earplugs for swimming

Our Athlete Approved guide to using earplugs for swimming includes:

BEST OVERALL EARPLUGS FOR SWIMMING: Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs

Our top overall pick for the best earplugs for swimming are Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs. Mack’s is the number one selling and doctor recommend earplug. These are also the official earplugs of USA Swimming!

Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs are time tested and proven for swimming. These are hands down the most commonly found earplug at the pool. Many swimmers believe these even provide a more comfortable fit and seal than expensive custom made ear plugs.

Mack’s silicone earplugs fit perfectly into all sizes of ears of both adults and children. For the best fit, follow these steps.

We highly recommend storing them in the case that comes with it. You can anticipate getting about five uses out of each earplug.

They are not only great for swimming. You can additionally use these out of the water for reducing noise for sleeping, loud events, flying discomfort, and studying.


  • Trusted Brand – Mack’s is the leader in the earplug industry and these are the Official Earplug of USA Swimming
  • Comfortable Seal – The most comfortable earplug available
  • Fits Any Ear Size – Silicon material molds to every ear


  • After Care – Can get dirty if not placed in storage case

BEST KID’S EARPLUGS FOR SWIMMING: Jaco Enterprises Putty Buddies

Our top kid’s earplugs for swimming are Putty Buddies. Jaco Enterprises is dedicated to keeping water out of your ears. Their products are created by an ear, nose, and throat physician.

Finding the right earplug for children is crucial to having an enjoyable swimming (or bathing) experience.

Swimmer’s ear is especially common for children because their ear canals are small and do not drain as well compared to an adult ear. So protect your child’s ear with these earplugs.

Putty Buddies earplugs are appealing for kids. They come in bright colors. This also makes them easy to find in case they are dropped in the pool.

These earplugs also stand out because they are ultra soft. They have a very tacky texture that helps them stay in place.

They are reusable and last longer than most earplugs. One size fits all. They are designed for children, but can also be used by adults.

Children who need extra water protection can pair these with the Ear Band-It Swimming Headband.


  • Designed For Children – Ultra soft material is made with kids in mind
  • Colorful – Assortment of colors helps them stand out
  • Durability – Long lasting earplug designed for multiple uses


  • Sticky – Can stick to hair


The best option for pre-molded earplugs are Mack’s AquaBlock Swimming Earplugs. Mack’s is a leader in the earplug industry. These are also endorsed by USA Swimming!

AquaBlock Earplugs offer a more customized fitting silicone style, compared to their silicon putty style earplugs. Their flanged design made with “SuperSeal” ultra soft silicone increases comfort and sealing ability.

Their high quality silicon material will outlast other earplugs. They can be washed and reused. If used daily, they should be replaced every 2-4 weeks.

They are made in a clear or purple color. We recommend the purple color, so they are easier to find in case you drop them in the pool! A protective carrying case is also included.


  • Pre-Molded – Comfortable and easily inserted into ear
  • Long Lasting – Designed to last longer than silicon putty style earplug
  • Triple Fang – Provides tight seal


  • Large Ear Canal Use – Not the best fit for extra large ear canals


The best earplugs that allow sound are the Hearprotek Swim Earplugs. Hearprotek’s mission is to create earplugs to protect your ears, without blocking out all of the sound.

Earplugs that allow you to hear… Sounds like an oxymoron, but they are incredibly useful for swimming!

While they will slightly lower your hearing, these are a great pick for swimmers who want to have conversations, hear coaching instructions, and be aware of their surroundings.

They are also great for parents who want to easily talk to their children in the water (because kids never need to get yelled at the pool, right?).

These swimming earplugs are pre-molded silicone. They have a recently upgraded design. They are ergonomically shaped to lay flat against your outer ear. They are designed with specific fit for left and right ears.

They come in bright blue, green, and orange colors.

Hearprotek Earplugs for Swimming


  • Volume – Earplugs allow you to hear, while providing a water tight seal.
  • Material – Light silicon is soft and comfortable.
  • Long lasting – Designed to last and can be washed.


  • Left and right – Users must be conscious of the left and right designated earplugs.


The Mack’s Ear Seals Dual Purpose Earplugs are unique to this list because they are attached by a cord. If you are someone who likes to actively play in the pool and tend to lose things, these are the perfect pair for you.

When swimmers wear these earplugs, they barely notice the string. The string is also detachable.

The earplugs themselves are made out of silicone. They are shaped for a snug, water sealing fit.

They are washable and reusable. The best part is they are made by Mack’s, the industry leader in earplugs.


  • Cord – Designed with a detachable cord, making them difficult to lose
  • Soft – Material is soft and pre-molded
  • Reusable – Can be washed between uses with warm water and soap


  • String strength – Cord can break under high tension.


Our top pick for water sports like surfing, kayaking, and wake boarding are Surf Ears. These earplugs are designed by surfers that found a solution to prevent surfer’s ear.

Surfer’s ear is a type of infection that can form when the ear canal gets wet. The cause? Exposure to cold water and wind, especially when surfers get caught in between those chilly waves!

These premium earplugs keep the water out of your ear while allowing you to hear. They can be attached by a cord, which is optional. And one of the coolest features is they are designed to have no effect your balance.

They come with changeable parts in different adult and junior sizes. The two sets of fixation wings and six sealing gel sizes help you find the perfect fit.


  • Premium Earplug – These are high quality earplugs that keep water out and prevent surfer’s ear
  • No Effect On Balance – Designed not to effect balance
  • Optional Cord – The cord can be used to prevent you from losing them or it is optional


  • Pricey – These are the most expensive earplug on our list, but well worth the investment


The Aqua Ears Soft Silicone Earplugs are our top pick for swimmers looking for earplugs on a budget. They are made of moldable silicon material for a custom fit to any ear.

These earplugs create a super tight seal when used correctly. Just form it into a ball with clean hands, place the plug over the ear, and gently flatten. We recommend doing this with clean hands. Do your best to avoid contact with your hair.

While the cost per unit make it one of the most inexpensive option, these are still a great option.


  • Budget Friendly – One of the lowest costing effective earplugs on the market
  • Silicon Material The material allows for a customized sealing fit
  • Comfortable – Custom fit is comfortable


  • Durability – These will last you about 3-4 uses

Different Types of Earplugs Explained

There are several different types of earplugs. Some specialize in noise reduction, like earplugs for sleeping. Others are meant for in-water use.

Be sure to understand the different variations to best suit your needs for swimming (or other uses).

Here are the three most common types of earplugs you will find. The first two are for water, the last is NOT:

Silicone Putty Earplugs

  • Most effective at blocking water
  • Formed to ear
  • Can pick up dirt if not cared for properly
Silicone Putty Earplugs

Pre-Molded Earplugs

  • Permanently formed
  • Easy to insert into ear, clean, reuse
  • Stem can get in way of cap if pulled over ears
Mack's AquaBlock Swimming Earplugs Purple

Foam Earplugs

  • NOT designed for water use
  • Inexpensive
  • Effective at reducing noise
Foam Earplug

How to Use Earplugs for Swimming

Follow these steps for proper insertion into your ear. Proper use is important to get the most effective seal, longest durability, and safety.

Silicon Putty Earplugs:

  1. Clean your hands and ears. Avoid contact with lotions and oils.
  2. Roll the putty into a ball.
  3. Place it over your outer ear canal, avoiding any hair.
  4. Flatten it.
  5. To remove, gently pull down and push up on your earlobe several times.

Use the entire earplug to cover your ear canal. Be careful not to insert it into the ear canal or elongate the putty.

Replace the earplug when it loses tackiness or when the silicone starts to break apart.

Pre-Molded Earplugs:

  1. Pull ear up to straighten the ear canal.
  2. Press earplug into ear with a circular motion.
  3. To remove, careful pull out with a twisting motion.

Wash your pre-molded earplugs with mild soap and warm water. It is best to store earplugs in the original carrying case between uses.

Warnings: Only use earplugs as directed. Supervise children. Consult a physician if an earplug is lodged in your ear!

Benefits of Using Earplugs for Swimming

If you have ever experienced any itchiness, redness, or loss of hearing, then you have experienced an ear infection.

The most common ear infection is known as swimmer’s ear. It is a bacterial infection within the ear canal. It causes skin to swell and can be very painful.

Adults can get swimmer’s ear, but it is more common for children. The good news is that it is easily prevented with earplugs.

Fungus and bacteria could be lurking in untreated water such as lakes, ocean, and any natural body of water. Earplugs keep that out.

For open water swimmers, cold water can cause your ear canal to shrink. This is painful and could damage your hearing. We recommend wearing earplugs in water less than 68 °F (20 °C).

Earplugs allow you to go for a swim without worrying about picking up a dreaded ear infection. While some have accepted water logged ears, others have found the right earplugs to prevent it all together.

How to Get Water Out of Your Ears

Getting water stuck in your ear can be avoided with the use of earplugs. However, if you are too late, then try these tips:

Pull down on your earlobe: Gently tug your earlobe up and down to dislodge the water.

Tilt your head to the side and jump: If you have water in your left ear, bob your head towards the left shoulder. It works even better while hoping on the left foot. Try to get your ear parallel to the ground.

The guys from “Night at the Roxbury” have this one perfected…

Use a blow dryer: Put it on a low setting and let the warm air go to work. Keep the dryer about a foot from your ear. If you are looking for something that can fit in your swim bag, try the Mack’s Ear Dryer.

Try ear drops: Ear drops designed to get rid of water from your ears can work magic. Just tilt your head to the slide and after a few drops you will feel the water rolling out of your ear. We recommend Swim-Ear. Be sure to use this product as directed.

Seek medical attention: See a doctor if the problem persists. You can never be too careful with your hearing. Full disclosure, this article is written by swimmers. Our site is called “Athlete” Approved, not “Doctor” Approved.


Earplugs are a great tool to keep water out of your ears when swimming.

With many different types, use our Athlete Approved earplug guide to find the best pair for you. Our guide explains the different type of earplugs and how to use them.

This simple product can help you enjoy years of swimming, without that those pesky water logged ears!

Best Earplugs for Swimming

*Equip yourself for success with our Athlete Approved Guide to Lap Swimming Equipment!*

1 Comment

  1. A lot of companies are trying their level best to tell people about what options they have. There is one place from where they can get options or variety and then they can select the best one.

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