How To Clean and Store Your Earplugs

disposable earplugs

When you’re shopping for earplugs, you can buy either disposable foam ones or some more expensive ones that aren’t intended to be disposable.

They both work.

They’re both soft.

They both contour to your ear canal.

They help you stay asleep when there’s noise in the area.

They can save your sleep just as well as more expensive, more substantial earplugs.

Fact is, if you choose the disposables and wear them every day and throw them away, you’ll eventually need to buy some more. 

A sample price is $10.49 for 18 pairs at CVS.

Then you’ll need to buy some more after that. 

On and on. Box after box. If you get them in that 18-pack, that might be 1 1/2 boxes of earplugs per month. 

Day after day, if you’re going to work the night shift long-term.

Don’t run out of earplugs

Money may or may not be a problem for you, but maybe you want to make sure you don’t run out of earplugs. Running out for whatever reason could spell a day or night of not sleeping well.

There’s also the consideration that when you throw disposable foam earplugs away, they go straight to the landfill.

Of course, you don’t want ear infections. You don’t want to wear the same plugs day after day without cleaning them. That’s a highly probable path leading to an ear infection, though earwax does offer some protection. It’s best to help the defense when you can, no matter where in your body.

The good news is cleaning your earplugs (whether they’re disposable or non-disposable) is easy. 

All you have to do is follow a few important principles, and you can use the same disposable earplug for, I don’t know, years. 

The plastic may get a little strange looking from this system. It depends on the type of plastic the earplug is made of, but they’ll still work.

The key is to clean them early enough, so they have a chance to dry.

A not-yet-dry earplug is unpleasant. 

It’s also a problem because moisture grows bacteria and fungi and you don’t want that in your ear.

How to clean earplugs

Use either isopropyl alcohol or soap and water—both work. Agitate the earplug gently under the running water by making a cup out of your hand and pouring a little rubbing alcohol in it. The friction and the liquid will dislodge the earwax and other material that gets on used earplugs.

You can also use an alcohol wipe, just as if you were cleaning a stethoscope. The typical disposable earplug surface is porous, but it works as well.

The key to the process is letting the earplugs dry. You can use a paper towel, as in the illustration or even a clean cloth towel. If you live in a dry climate, this may not be a problem. They’ll dry in less than an hour if you’ve squeezed the water or cleaning fluid out completely.

You can find a small, clean plastic box and keep them in that, or you can even use the paper container as in the photo illustration. You’ll store them in a drawer. You don’t want them rolling off of the nightstand onto the floor. If your nightstand or dresser drawer is jam-packed, make a little room in there to find them. You can also use an envelope.

Cleaning and reusing them takes seconds once you have a system. Saving a little money isn’t the only advantage and it’s not the most important advantage. You’ll never run out of them. Every night shift you work will be a success, at least from the standpoint of being resistant to waking up from noise.

Also on the blog:

James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life. He’s used the earplug cleaning method described above for over a decade with a 100 percent success rate.

Some links on the DRS are affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission. This has no effect on our opinion. 


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