Foam earplugs are the cheapest and most straightforward type of earplugs. They are often used as earplugs for sleeping and are amongst the best earplugs for casual or occasional use. They are often given away by airlines because they are cheap and fit almost all users. However, not everyone uses them correctly.
Most people just stick foam earplugs in their ears. However, they are not getting the best protection. Instead, the earplug should be compressed by rolling into a cylinder. Then you need to pull the top of your ear up and away from your head and slide the plug in, then hold it there until it expands slowly. Forcing them into the ear does not work.
Ear plugs should not just be pulled out. If you hear a ‘pop’ when you remove them, then you are doing it wrong and risking ear drum damage. Instead, the plug should be gently twisted to work it free and withdrawn slowly.
The quickest way to clean ear plugs is to fill a small cup with hydrogen peroxide bleach and soak them for a couple of minutes, then rinse. If they are too dirty for that, mild soap or dish detergent is best. Mix it with water in a bowl, then put the ear plugs in and gently rub the dirt off with a cloth or your fingers. Then rinse and dry by placing on a clean towel, covering it with a second towel, and pressing down. Make sure they are fully air dry before using them again.
Foam earplugs should be thrown away and replaced if they have become nasty or soiled, if they get wet or if they have become stiff and are not pliable enough to insert properly. Using the same set of earplugs for sleeping for too long can cause health problems. It is best to purchase several pairs at once if you plan on using earplugs for listening to or composing music or for loud events, as foam earplugs are easy to lose. For events, consider earplugs that are attached to a lanyard, making them much harder to drop. If you listen to or play music, then you may want slightly more expensive musicians ear plugs.
For long term use, consider more expensive custom molded ear plugs. These can even be designed to dampen out specific noises, such as your partner snoring. Also, they are less likely to cause damage to your ears with long-term use.