When you are trying to protect your ears, there are three main types of earplugs you can wear. The most common type of earplugs, the type you would normally see construction workers wearing, are foam earplugs. Made out of memory foam, the earplugs are squeezed down before insertion in your ear canal, where they will expand, filling the canal. Silicone earplugs are moldable. You roll this type of earplug into a ball and then mold it over the external part of your ear canal. The final type of earplug is the flanged earplug. Flanged earplugs look like miniature Christmas trees with the flanges appearing as the “tree” portion of the earplug. The flanged portion of the plug is inserted into your ear canal, where it will create a solid seal. Musicians’ earplugs and custom molded earplugs are normally flanged.
First, make sure your flanged earplugs are the correct size because, unlike foam and silicone earplugs, flanged earplugs cannot be squeezed down, or molded in any way before insertion. To avoid catching any kind of ear infection, you should still wash your hands before handling your plugs. To insert the earplug, pull your ear up and outward with your opposite hand, this will straighten your ear canal. Using your other hand, holding the earplug by the stem, push and wiggle the plug into the ear canal until you get a good seal. You’ll know you have a good seal when your voice echoes in your head and you feel slight pressure in your ear.
To remove the earplug, with the same side hand as your ear, grasp the stem of the plug and gently wiggle and twist the earplug out of your canal. You can damage your canal if you aren’t careful removing the plug.
After you remove your earplugs, you should clean them with warm, soapy water. Dry them off, and then store them in a clean place. If your flanged earplugs come with a case, you should store them in their case.
Since flanged earplugs can be washed safely without threat of them breaking down, the same pair of earplugs can be used for years. If you are a musician or someone who deals with loud noise regularly, an extra backup pair of earplugs might be a necessary precaution against loss of your earplugs.
Best Flanged Earplugs
Alpine MusicSafe Filter EarplugsBest for MusiciansNRR 20, Two levels of protection
Etymotic Research ER20 Flanged EarplugsNRR 20, Earplug and Play favorite
Macks AquaBlock Flanged EarplugsBest for WatersportsN/A NRR, Good for watersports