best earplugs for swimming

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The Athlete Approved Guide to Using Earplugs for Swimming

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 determine which are the best pair for your needs.

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!

The 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 custom 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.

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.

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

Athlete Approved Note: Mack’s manufactures a number of earplugs. This includes ultra soft foam earplugs and maximum protection foam earplugs for everyday noise reduction use. They also have a pre-formed AquaBlock earplug (also on our Athlete Approved list).

While these are all great products by Mack’s, our top overall pick for swimming are the Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplugs. Use these to hit the pool, ocean, or bath free of worry!

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.

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. Their fun cartoon mascot stands out on their carrying case.

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.


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.

BEST EARPLUGS YOU CAN HEAR WITH FOR SWIMMING: Hearprotek Silicone Swimming Earplugs

The best earplugs that allow sound are the Hearprotek Silicone Swimming 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.

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.

BEST EARPLUGS WITH A CORD FOR SWIMMING: zYoung 6 Pair Reusable Silicone Ear Plugs

The zYoung 6 Pair Reusable Silicone Ear Plugs 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 earplugs themselves are made out of silicone. They are shaped for a snug, water sealing fit.

They offer great value for their low price and pack of six.

Different Types of Earplugs Explained

There are several different types of earplugs. Some specialize in noise reduction, while 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.

Conclusion on the Athlete Approved Guide to Earplugs for Swimming

Overall, earplugs are a great tool to keep water out of your ears when swimming. With many different earplug types, use this guide to find the right fit for you.

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

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