I use disposable foam earplugs to help me sleep. They usually start itching within a week, and I throw them out and get another pair. They seem to be made of memory foam, based on the way they slowly expand after being squeezed. They may have a coating on them. The brand is "Mack's", which claims that they're "made with Comfy Cush (TM) Comfort Foam".

Is there a way to clean them without losing quality?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Personally, I never use a pair of these more than once. Here in the UK they are pretty cheap - 10p to 15p each - I certainly wouldn't risk an ear infection at that price.
    – Lefty
    Apr 16 '18 at 14:27
  • 1
    Likely much cheaper than that if you buy them from an industrial supply house , probably a box of a thousand +/-. Jan 4 '20 at 21:23

I have washed them in shampoo, the same I use for my own hair. It has to be a rather basic shampoo that is not 'feeding' your hair or leaving a conditioner layer.

I did put the shampoo on, leave them a short while in warm water, and then rinse, massaging the ear plugs while holding them under running water, (you can use water you would waste otherwise, like when the shower is heating up.)

Make sure you rinse out all shampoo.

I never had this brand, I used it for the plugs supplied at work when I worked at a company who were not good at handing them out.

PS, do not wait till they itch, clean them before. You might start rinsing in clean water from the start with your next pair, but do so when you come out of bed, so they have time to dry out while you are awake.


People who are hearing-impaired must wear earpieces in their ear(s) most of the day, most every day.

First, it is important to keep both these plugs and your ear canals clean and clear to avoid the risk of an auditory canal infection.

Audiologists recommend using an alcohol-free, broad-spectrum anti-microbial cleanser for hearing aids, daily. It's for external use only. You also don't know how the plastic will react with other cleansers containing alcohol. Pharmacies will also have these kinds of supplies. Several different products are available, any of which will be suitable. They are sold in small pump-spray atomizer-topped bottles.

There's no reason that you can't treat your ear plugs similarly:
A light spray on a clean tissue which you then use to wipe-down the surface of your plugs.
Do this when you remove them so they're dry and ready for re-use.

One of the reasons for the popularity of the disposable ear plugs is the convenience of tossing and replacing a pair rather than the time and additional expense of proper maintenance. Also, if you are willing to care for your disposable ones, it might be to your advantage to get a better quality, higher performance pair for your prolonged use.

The cheap dispo- ones are more for occasional temporary use.


Reusable foam ear plugs should be cleaned with soap and water (according to their instructions). You can try this on your disposable ear plugs, but they are called disposable for reasons - they will most likely deteriorate in quality after this, resulting in worse noise cancellation and you may find it more difficult to shape them into a cone.

At any rate, using earplugs makes your ears more vulnerable to infection. You should consider having really good ear hygiene (cotton buds and soap – for the external ear only, spray for the internal ear). You can reuse disposable ear plugs in case you clean your ears every day or so (this may sound like overdoing it, but it actually isn’t in this case) and don’t wait until they get itchy - dispose of the ear plugs after a few days (they aren’t really that expensive, so it is worth getting a new pair, rather than getting an ear infection).

If you really don’t want to get new pair of earplugs every time you need to, consider getting reusable, washable ones. They may not be as good at blocking the noise, though, so check their parameters.


I use these exact earplugs for noise reduction while I sleep, as I’m a super light sleeper. I bought the largest pack of them – in a plastic tub with a lid. I wash them out after each use, using a sensitive skin liquid soap (QV brand) and warm water, in the morning when I’m washing my face. I rub/squeeze clean them by hand and rinse really thoroughly. I allow at least 3 days for them to dry thoroughly before re-using.

I’ve noticed that it’s important to use a sensitive skin soap or my ears get itchy. Also important that they’ve really dried out before re-using. I don’t find that noise reduction quality or malleability of the ear plug is reduced.

  • Hi Louise, Welcome to Lifehacks.
    – Stan
    Dec 31 '19 at 4:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.