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The 3 Best Ear Plugs for Swimming

Young woman in an inner tube being splashed.
Say goodbye to Swimmer’s Ear with the help of one of our 3 all-time favorite earplugs.

Suffering from swimmer’s ear? Don’t let pain and swelling dampen your day at the pool. Block water from entering the ear canal with a pair of simple silicone earplugs. Whether you opt for pre-shaped or moldable earplugs, you’ll be better protected from trapped water, bony growths (exostosis), tinnitus (ringing), and ruptured ear drums.

If you’re not sure which ear plugs are right for you, we’re here to help. Based on years of product testing and plenty of customer feedback, we’ve come up with the top 3 earplugs for swimming and assembled them here to make choosing the right pair easy.

#3. Mack’s Aqua Block Ear Plugs

The Most Cost-Effective

Unlike Mack’s other earplugs, Aqua Block plugs are made from pre-formed silicone that holds its shape swim after swim. This washable and reusable design provides you with months of water-blocking power. And, at just under $5 for a 2-pair pack, Aqua Block Ear Plugs provide the biggest bang for your buck.

Package of Mack's Aqua Block Earplugs
Mack’s waterproof Aqua Block Ear Plugs.

Aside from being economical, Aqua Block ear plugs are also some of the simplest earplugs to use. The unfussy, slide-and-twist design means you can don them in seconds and remove them just as quickly. Just slip the flanged end into your ear canal and give them a small twist to create an airtight seal. Because these plugs are reusable, they need to be cleaned and dried thoroughly between uses to prevent bacterial growth.

Tote your Aqua Blocks to and from the pool in their very own shatter-proof carrying case. This storage saviour maintains a clean environment for your ear plugs to live happily ever after.

#2. Mack’s Pillow-Soft™ Ear Plugs

The Most Popular

They’re soft, they’re comfortable, they’re the best-selling earplugs in the country. Mack’s Pillow Soft™ Ear Plugs perform dual functions, blocking both sound and water from disturbing the ears. Their multi-purpose design makes them the ideal pair for swimmers, pilots, motorcyclists, and musicians.

A package of Mack's Pillow Soft Ear Plugs
Mack’s Pillow Soft™ Ear Plugs.

Pillow Soft™ ear plugs by Mack’s are the top-selling model in the United States, even boasting the title of “Official Earplugs of USA Swimming.” They reduce noise by 22dB, muffling loud background noise while allowing you to hear a lifeguard’s whistle or a coach’s call. This sound-dampening effect also makes Pillow Soft™ earplugs the best earplugs for sleeping, traveling, and concert-going.

The biggest downside is that moldable earplugs like these have a lifespan of about 5 uses. When the putty becomes dirty or loses its stickiness and pliability, it’s time to break out a fresh pair.

Need a smaller plug? Do not cut or break your ear plugs into pieces as ear plug putty may become trapped in the ear canal, causing damage to the ear drum. Mack’s Kid’s Earplugs provide all the same protection as their Pillow Soft™ counterparts but are sized to fit smaller ears. And their bright orange coloring makes them easy to spot in the pool bottom.

#1. Doc’s Proplugs

The Most Sophisticated

Need earplugs for diving, surfing, or water-skiing? Doc’s Proplugs offer the most reliable protection against water entry, high frequency hearing loss, and ruptured ear drums. Plus, they’re made in 8 unique sizes that provide tailored ear protection for babies, children, teens, and adults.

A pair of blue Doc's Proplugs Ear Plugs.
Doc’s Pro Plugs non-vented earplugs.

Doc’s silicone ear plugs top our list of the best ear plugs for swimming year after year. They were developed by Robert Scott, a doctor with a yen for surfing and a desire to eliminate the ear ailments it causes, such as infection and exostosis.

Doc’s blue and pink non-vented earplugs are made for lap swimming, bathing, and recreational splashing. Their clear and red vented earplugs assist in equalization, making them perfect for snorkeling, spearfishing, SCUBA-diving, and free-diving. Doc’s vented design features a pin prick-sized hole to allow airflow, reducing abrupt changes in ear pressure and easing the “ear squeeze” discomfort associated with air travel and deep dives. Doc’s vented earplugs are also recommended for surfers because of their ability to warm the ear canal and prevent the impaction of earwax that can lead to painful exostosis (aka Surfer’s Ear).

Though most earplugs are considered one-size-fits-all, Doc’s Proplugs come in 8 size options − Tiny through XX-Large − with the smallest plugs being appropriate for babies and toddlers and the largest being suitable for adults.

Alternate Ear Protection Options

Looking for something less invasive? Try an easy-to-use Aqua Earband. It creates a leak-proof seal over the ear opening and doesn’t require earplugs to work. The band’s neoprene construction also warms the ears, making it the perfect solution for cold-water swimming, water-skiing, and winter weather.

If you’re still not sure which ear plugs are right for you, contact us for personal shopping assistance and answers to your toughest questions.


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