Best Earplugs for Swimming & Watersports – Complete Guide 2016

Daniel Bell (AUS) action reflections Swimming 2000 Sydney PG

Most of us have gone through that uncomfortable feeling at some time or other – that of water getting trapped in our ears when we go for a swim, or after a shower. For those with narrow ear canals or sensitive ears, ‘swimmer’s ear’ can be a painful experience. If not treated properly, it might even lead to frequent ear infections.

One can try the old one-two of tilting the head and tapping the water out, or waiting for your ear to dry out. But having to do so each time you go swimming gets really tiresome, and if there is a way to prevent it from happening at all, you should take it.

One easy way to prevent this is to wear the best earplugs for swimming. Not only are they inexpensive, but they are also readily available from healthcare professionals such as doctors and audiologists, the local drugstore, as well as online.

The most important aspects of quality earplugs for swimming  


Be sure to pick ones that are designed especially for swimming.Plugs for sleeping, hunting and shooting or industrial work are made to block noises, not water. They will not be able to create a tight water seal, so it will be the same as not wearing any plugs at all.

Size and Fit

For serious swimmers, there are custom-fit plugs molded to the shape of the ear. There are also the disposable types which come in one size only. Consider how often you’ll be wearing the plugs, and who they are for. For example, some plugs are difficult for children to wear, requiring help from an adult. If your child is going to the pool with his or her friends, they might not know how to put the plugs back in if ever they pop out.


Plugs can fall out and become loose in the water. Bright colors make them easier to find in a pool.


For swimming, silicone or putty-types are most common, and readily available at most shops and pharmacies. They are suitable for children, as they are easy to put into the ears, are cheap, and come in one-size fits all. However, the material is not washable.The putty-like consistency allows debris, ear wax or dirt to get on them, which can be unhygienic.

Rubber and soft plastic types are also popular choices. Some brands make them from latex, so people with allergies should check the materials carefully before purchasing a pair.These are usually washable and reusable. One should stop using them if the they leave the ears feeling itchy and irritated.


Conical earplugs are cone-shaped, with ribs like an accordion. The flanges, which act as a barrier against the water, fold in when inserted – creating suction to hold the plugs in place. In addition to water, they are also able to block out noise, so user can also use them for sleep and other applications. They usually have ends that stick out of the ears for easy removal. The downside is that they are prone to losing suction and falling out, even while swimming. Meanwhile, ergonomic types are shaped to fit comfortably inside the ear while lying flat against the outer part.

In a nutshell

Swimmer’s ear, infection or other water-related ear problems are not a fun thing to have. Investing in a good pair of swimming ear plugs can stop such conditions from happening, ensuring that you’ll still be able to do what you love and get some good exercise in. Whether they are made from silicone, plastic or rubber; or custom-molded to a one-size-fits all type, finding the right fit and comfort for yourself is the most important thing. As they are fairly affordable, trying a few different types until you find the most suitable one for you is advisable so that you can reap the maximum benefits.

10 Best Earplugs for Swimming

Key Feature
Key Feature
  1. Alpine Swim Safe Ear Plugs  Protects against ear infection and surfer’s ear $$ 5.0 
  2. Putty Buddies Floating Formula Soft Silicone Ear Plugs for Swimming and Bathing  Only floating soft moldable silicone earplugs $ 4.6 
  3. Macks Soft Flanged Aqua Block Earplugs, Purple  Helps prevent swimmer’s ear and surfer’s ear $ 4.6 
  4. Insta-Putty Moldable Silicone Putty Ear Plugs  Hydrophobic for greater water repellency $$ 4.6 
  5. Macks Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs  Molds very comfortably to the unique contours of any ear $ 4.4 
  6. Supreme Swimming Ear Plugs  Large and small pair of swimming ear plugs with a secure nose clip $ 4.3 
  7. Doc’s Medical Grade Pro Earplugs  Made from hypo-allergenic Kraton $$ 4.3 
  8. Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs  Ergonomic fit provides watertight comfort $  4.2
  9. Swim Elite Swim Ear Plugs Great mix of top quality and funky design $ 4.0 
  10. Zoggs Aqua Plugz Hypoallergenic Ear Plugs Ergonomic shape to fit the outer ear  $ 3.9 

1) Alpine Swim Safe Ear Plugs

Best Earplugs for SwimmingThe Alpine Swim Safe Ear Plugs are made to prevent water from getting into the ears, protecting against infection, surfers ear and swimmers ear. They are even suitable for swimming with ear tubes.

The well thought-out design has been tested extensively to provide a natural flat absorption. Each plug has two soft and flexible slats, which adjust to the shape and diameter of the ear canal – not just for a good fit for the auditory ducts and a perfect seal, but also to determine the extent of absorption in response to various sound frequencies. Using unique Alpine Acoustic Filters, they are safely able to block water while allowing ambient sounds such as conversations to remain audible. Users can even make phone calls with the plugs in. Small ducts in the filters prevent a sense of total isolation.

Aside from water sports or general swimming activities, they can also be used for bath time and showering. Made from patented Alpine Thermo Shape material, the plugs are silicone-free and hypoallergenic while being soft and gentle on the ears. For those who prefer their plugs to be a more discreet, the short stem is less visible in the ear and will not interfere with movement when worn underneath swim caps. They are washable with warm water and soap, reusable and able to float in water.

The set comes in an Alpine Miniboxx for users to conveniently store and bring their ear plugs around. The box is easy to use, trendy and can be attached to swimming bags, on the wearer’s wetsuit or even around their wrist. However, note that the Swim Safe ear plugs are not suitable for deep diving, so users are advised not to use them for diving below a depth of 1 meter.

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Alpine Swim Safe Ear Plugs>>

2) Putty Buddies Floating Formula Soft Silicone Ear Plugs for Swimming and Bathing

Best Earplugs for SwimmingWith a name like Putty Buddies, these plugs seem to be targeted more at children: but can still be a great choice for adults. Made from soft and moldable silicone material, they are comfortable, easy to use and shape to the ear. The plugs work by blocking water from entering the ear canal and are good for swimming and bathing, as well as outdoor recreational activities such as surfing, canoeing or water skiing.

The brainchild of an ear, nose and throat physician, they are specially designed to prevent swimmer’s ear, and are recommended by healthcare professionals such as doctors and audiologists. Not only do they prevent ear problems from developing by keeping water out of the ears, they are also suitable for those with existing conditions such as perforated ear drums and patients with ear tubes in.

The patented Flo-Tek silicone formula allows the plugs to float, so you’ll never lose another pair in the pool again. They come in a variety of bright and fun colours such as red, white and blue so users will spot them easily if they are dislodged or dropped into water. They are lightweight at just 0.3 ounces and portable so you can bring them to the beach or on holidays.

Their sticky, putty-like texture keeps the plugs in place. For adults with larger ears, use the entire piece for good coverage. For children or those with smaller ears, simply tear out a piece, shape into a ball and mold as see fit. They are reusable and can last up to two weeks, but should be discarded once dirty. They do get dirty quickly due to the sticky surface.

One word of caution: users should not force them into the ear canal. As it is tacky, pushing it too far in will make it difficult to remove and leave a residue. 

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Putty Buddies Floating Formula Soft Silicone Ear Plugs for Swimming and Bathing>>

3) Macks Soft Flanged Aqua Block Earplugs, Purple

Best Earplugs for SwimmingMacks Aqua Block Ear plugs help to prevent swimmer’s ear and surfer’s ear, making it ideal for swimming, showering, surfing, bathing and water sports. Pre-molded, they are made of a super soft silicone material for maximum comfort.

The flanged design gives users a customised fit, improving the plugs’ sealing capabilities against water.  As they are washable and reusable for extended wear, a pair can last for months with proper care and cleaning. The surface is easy to grasp, making it convenient for insertion and removal.

Another plus point to the Mack’s is that they are easy to wear. Users simply pull the ear up so that the canal is straightened, position the plugs and push them inside. Removing is equally convenient, needing just a little twist and pull. They can sit snugly inside the ear without moving for the entire duration of a 45 min swim. We found that even with frequent usage (four times a week, lasting 45 mins each session), the Mack’s were still able to keep their form and seal with minimal degradation after a month.

The downside is that while they are a good fit for most ear canals, it can be too large for children or those with smaller ears. While the fangled design keeps it securely inside the ear canal, the end of the plug may move along with the swimmer, sometimes grating against the ear.

Lightweight at 0.3 ounces, they float on water and the purple colour makes them easy to find. Noise is reduced significantly when wearing them so they can even double as sleeping ear plugs. 

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Macks Soft Flanged Aqua Block Earplugs, Purple>>

4) Insta-Putty Moldable Silicone Putty Ear Plugs

Best Earplugs for SwimmingThe Insta-Putty Moldable Silicone Ear Plugs are a decent choice for swimming, showering and bathing. Most times, it is hard to find ear plugs with sizes that fit younger children, or are safe enough for them to wear without discomfort. The Insta-Putty can be conveniently shaped to fit smaller ears.

As they work to block water by covering the ear canal opening instead of sealing the inside of the ear canal, they are effective and safe for young children and even babies. Made from a hypoallergenic and non-toxic high-grade silicone, they have a soft cushion design for comfort, mold easily to the outer ear and have an adhesive texture to ensure plugs stay in place. The material is also hydrophobic to help repel water, thus providing greater water protection.

They are pigmented, slightly translucent and blend in to most skin tones, This can be a plus or a drawback, depending on your application. While it gives a discreet look, it might be difficult to find in a pool if ever the plugs drop out.

Each pair is good for three to five uses before discarding. Due to the sticky nature of their material, be careful to avoid hair when placing the ear plugs. As with most silicone and wax earplugs, they might leave some residue. Take care not to place the plugs inside the ear canals as they will be hard to remove.

The Insta-Putty can double as a sleeping ear plug to effectively reduce loud noises.

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Insta-Putty Moldable Silicone Putty Ear Plugs>>

5) Macks Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs

Best Earplugs for SwimmingOne of America’s bestselling moldable silicone ear plugs, the Mack’s Pillow Soft range is recommended by doctors to seal out water, helping to prevent swimmer’s ear. The plugs are versatile and allow for multiple applications beyond swimming and bathing. Their NRR 22dB rating means that they can be used for sleeping, travelling and studying.

Understanding that no two ears are the same, the Pillow Soft plugs are made with non-toxic material and designed to mold comfortably to the unique contours of different ears. Unlike hard plugs which create continuous pressure in the ear, leaving them sore and painful, these respond to body temperature and will soften slightly when warmed up without compromising on effectiveness.

It is important to follow proper instructions to get the maximum benefit and comfort from the plugs. Hands and ears should be clean and dry before attempting use. Simply shape the plug into a ball, place plug over ear canal and flatten to form an airtight seal, making sure hair does not get in the way. To remove, press up behind the ear and loosen. When done correctly, the plugs form a strong seal and will sit firmly throughout a swimming session, whilst blocking out annoying environmental noise.

Some plugs made from moldable silicone don’t allow for washing. Not so with the Mack’s Pillow Soft plugs. They need to be washed gently at low settings, but they come out good as new and can be reused multiple times. Otherwise, they are good for up to five uses, and should be discarded once soiled or no longer sticky. A plastic carrying case is included. 

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Macks Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs>>

6) Supreme Swimming Ear Plugs

Best Earplugs for SwimmingThe Supreme Swimming Ear Plugs offer a viable solution to prevent swimmers ear and irritation, by effectively blocking water out with a water-tight seal. Made from soft, premium silicone, they mold well to the ear canal. If you’re looking for a comfortable alternative to cheap but hard plastic plugs that pinch the ears, this might be an option to consider.

The plugs have a secure and triple flanged design for extra protection against water leaks and to keep them in place, even with rigorous movements and when underwater. Their non-slip grip ensures that they will not come loose, while still allowing users to insert and remove them easily without chaffing the skin. They are also pliable and gentle enough for daily use without causing pain or irritation.

Have you ever tried buying a packet of ear plugs only to realise that the sizes did not fit? With the Supreme Swimming Ear Plugs, one thing that we were happy with was that each pack comes in two sizes, so users can tweak and fit them accordingly to suit different ears.  Adults can opt for the large size, while children or those with smaller ears can go for the smaller size. Since the stem is shorter and lower than most, users can wear swim caps over them with no discomfort.

The items are washable and reusable. The bundle is complete with a secure nose clip for swimming, and comes in a small and transparent hard carrying case. One thing to remember is not to push the plugs too far into the ear canal as they might cause pressure to build up. 

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Supreme Swimming Ear Plugs>>

7) Doc’s Medical Grade Pro Earplugs

Best Earplugs for SwimmingWhile other models focus on preventing problems arising from water in the ears, the Doc’s Pro Plugs are designed for those who may already have existing ear conditions. If you’re suffering from repeated cases of middle ear infection, or had an ear tube inserted recently, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on swimming completely – just grab a pair of Doc’s.

Created in 1977, Doc’s patented design has made it a trusted brand over the years, recognised by professionals and patients to offer comfort and protection. Recommended by ear, nose and throat physicians, Doc’s can help to reduce the risk of exposure to further infections. The product line is popular among surfers as well as parents, who buy them for their children.

Made from hypo-allergenic Kraton material for a watertight seal, they are designed for those likely to stay on the surface of the water. They carry a non-invasive design and look a little like hearing aids.

One common grouse when looking for ear plugs is getting a size that fits. Doc’s ear plugs come in different sizes, from XS and S and M to L. As they are inexpensive and easily replaceable, some users might want to opt for these instead of spending on molded ear plugs which have to be resized each year, especially with growing children.

The plugs are easy to insert and remove, stay in place when they need to, but need some time to get used to when in the ear. Aside from blocking water, they also muffle sounds. Users can clean them with some alcohol. They are available in blue and pink colors, making them easy to spot in the environment. 

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Doc’s Medical Grade Pro Earplugs>>

8) Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs

Best Earplugs for SwimmingMention Speedo and chances are people will know it as an established manufacturer and distributor of swimwear and swimwear accessories. The brand is certainly no stranger to swimming enthusiasts, and their Ergo Ear Plugs feature a dynamic design and ergonomic fit.

Made with high quality TPR (thermoplastic rubber) material, they are PVC-free, soft and comfortable enough for long hours of wear. They are built to last: one user remarked that the plugs were able to last up to 6 weeks with 10 hour sessions of competitive swimming.

Their specialised shape helps to minimize leakage, block water from entering the ears and fits securely to provide maximum protection. The long stem makes it easy to insert and remove. Users can take them out for a conversation in between swimming breaks and pop them in for another lap in the pool with no problems. The flap design also fits snugly inside the ear canal and is suitable for those with smaller ears.

The Ergo Ear Plugs clean and dry quickly, thanks to their rubber material. Compact and lightweight, they are less noticeable in the ear and can be worn under a swimming cap with no problems.

The plugs come in a neat storage case that can be easily carried around, whilst protecting the plugs from dirt and germs. Available in grey and blue colors.

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs>>

9) Swim Elite Swim Ear Plugs

Best Earplugs for SwimmingEar plugs are not like clothing: as long as they work well, people buy them. The Swim Elite goes one step further beyond function to also include form – mixing edgy, fun and colourful designs to give new meaning to the term, ‘swimming in style’.

Appearance aside, the Swim Elite plugs do what they’re supposed to do – keep water out. Made from high quality silicone, the material firmly seals water from coming in but is soft and smooth enough to gently press against the ear canal with little to no discomfort.

The company prides itself in products tested by professional swimmers and instructors, corroborated by the good reviews the plugs seem to get from users. Their unobtrusive, three-layered design allows the plugs to adapt to differently sized ears and shapes easily. Parents have claimed that the plugs work equally well for their children as well as themselves.

They are easy to insert and remove, and can be popped in and out many times without having to worry about the plugs losing their effectiveness or not fitting the second time. Small and light, they come in fashionable colors such as Ocean Blue, Laguna Green and Stylish Dark Grey. Users can pick the ones most suited to their personality, and their bright color means they’ll never be lost in the pool again.

Each bundle comes with a nose clip for the complete swimming package.

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Swim Elite Swim Ear Plugs>>

10) Zoggs Aqua Plugz Hypoallergenic Ear Plugs

Best Earplugs for SwimmingWhether you’re a professional athlete or just a recreational swimmer, the ZoggsAqua Plugz ear plugs aim to help swimmers and surfers enjoy their time in the water without stress.

Made from hypo-allergenic material, the pre-molded silicone ear plugs will not irritate the ears or cause pain. Some pre-molded plugs are notorious for causing discomfort, but we found no such problem with the Zoggs. They are soft, ultra-comfortable and suitable for long wear. They also prove to be effective at blocking water from entering both the inner and outer ear.

The plugs’ ergonomic design allows for a snug fit around the outer ear without sticking out like a sore thumb. Users can tuck them nicely under a swimming cap without the plugs getting in the way.

The Zoggs come in two sizes; S/M for children and adults with smaller ears, and L/XL for those with larger ear canals. They are child-friendly and come in a variety of bright colours, such as peach, blue and green. A test swim found that they are able to stay in small ears for an hour-long swim. They also muffle noises like children screaming at the pool or loud music blasting, but allow users to hear instructors talking.

The plugs are reusable and very durable, which means that users can expect to use them for months to come. Given its features and affordable price point, the Zoggs are a good value for money and a solid choice for those looking for both quality and comfort. Comes with a handy carrying case to keep it clean and protected from dirt.

<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Zoggs Aqua Plugz Hypoallergenic Ear Plugs>>

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