How often do your misophonia triggers ruin your day? I know my mood can go from excellent to downright disgusted in the snap of a finger. Once I experience one of my triggers, it takes a lot longer than the snap of a finger to regulate my mood. If you’re not already finding relief by blocking out your triggers, then investing in the best earplugs for misophonia is a very wise decision.
In my case, earplugs work quite well to keep me productive during work, while doing chores around the house, and of course to block out triggers while I sleep. Being both a light sleeper and a misophonia sufferer requires a lot of work. In this guide, I share the top 5 misophonia earplugs on the market, including the brands I like the most.
Let’s start below with a helpful chart that includes my top 5 picks before moving on to the earplug reviews and tips on how to choose the best earplugs for misophonia.
|#1) The Ear Buddy|
|#2) Kuyax Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs|
|#3) 3M 3101001 E-A-R Classic Earplug|
|#4) Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplug|
|#5) Howard Leight by Honeywell Laser Lite Earplugs|
How to Choose the Best Earplugs for Misophonia
When selecting misophonia earplugs for noise reduction, there are three main factors to consider: NRR rating, comfort, and material. In my experience, both foam and silicone earplugs are the most comfortable. Plus, they work the best to block out noise and give me at least a couple of uses before I toss them out.
In each section below, I briefly discuss each of the three factors to give you a better understanding of how earplugs work to reduce noise disturbances.
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)
Noise Reduction Rating or NRR is simply a measure of how many decibels the earplugs are able to subtract from incoming sounds. The higher the NRR rating the better the earplugs are at blocking out noise. However, there’s one important factor to consider that affects NRR rating.
Who created NRR? The EPA developed NRR, and it’s mostly used by laborers in accordance with OSHA guidelines. Since laborers are exposed to the sounds of heavy machinery and other construction equipment, they consider the NRR for safety reasons to prevent injury due to loud sounds and to choose OSHA-compliant headphones.
Comfort is the most obvious factor to consider because there’s nothing worse than uncomfortable earplugs. Unfortunately, I sometimes have trouble finding good earplugs since I live abroad. On top of that, individual brands sometimes sell inconsistent quality. For example, I used to like Hearos earplugs, but the batches are too hard now and cause pressure in my ears that makes it impossible to sleep with them.
3M and Howard Leight are the brands most used by construction workers. Before my life abroad, I managed hotel & casino construction, and the pink color of Howard Leight earplugs was commonplace. Both 3M and Howard Leight sell consistent quality, and Laser Lite earplugs are amazingly soft.
The key takeaway is that you might need to experiment with a couple of brands to find the brand that you can wear the longest without discomfort.
Materials could probably be lumped together with comfort, but it is an important enough buying factor that it deserves its own section. In my experience, soft-foam and silicone are the best earplugs for misophonia because I’m able to wear them for long hours. Additionally, the brands in this guide are the ones I’ve used to create near soundproof seals.
One thing you’ll most likely find is that silicone earplugs take longer to figure out than foam earplugs. For this reason, it’s even more important to follow the directions on the label when using silicone earplugs.
Also, materials matter because you’ll match the material to your planned uses. For example, silicone earplugs are often waterproof and great for swimming. Plus, they’re great for side sleepers, to eliminate flight discomfort caused by increased ear pressure and even Surfer’s Ear aka exostosis. The drawback is they typically cost more than buying foam earplugs in bulk.
Foam earplugs are cheap and great for everyday activities. Additionally, super-soft brands like Howard Leight are excellent for sleeping. I’m a side sleeper, and I approve of wearing Laser Lite earplugs while sleeping.
Now that we’ve discussed how to choose the best earplugs for misophonia, let’s take a quick look at each of the brands in my Top 5.
#1) The Ear Buddy
The Ear Buddy latex-free foam earplugs are the most premium foam plugs on the market. They not only deliver superior comfort, but they also sport one of the highest noise reduction ratings of 32 dB.
Plus, The Ear Buddy is so confident in the quality of its earplugs that the company offers a 60-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. Considering most brands don’t offer a satisfaction guarantee, it’s impressive to see a 60-day guarantee.
One of my favorite features is the bell-shaped design. I prefer bell-shaped earplugs like The Ear Buddy and Howard Leight brands because they’re easier to use and tend to stay in one place. Lastly, the polyurethane foam is of premium quality and good for people with latex allergies.
- Slow rebound time makes them easy to insert without having to rush
- The bell-shaped design keeps them from falling out
- Highest NRR at 32 dB
- Excellent for sleep, noisy neighbors, and blocking out snoring
- For misophonia sufferers with eating sound triggers, these work great
- Good for both small and large ear canals
- Their bright color makes them easy to see
- The most comfortable foam earplugs
- Pricier than 3M and Laser Lite
- Foam earplugs may cause you discomfort
- Several sealing issues
- Potential irritation
#2) Kuyax Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs
If you don’t like the idea of inserting foam earplugs into your ear canal, silicone earplugs are the perfect alternative. Instead of inserting the earplug into your ear canal to create a seal, Kuyax silicone plugs create a seal mostly in your outer ear. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a bit of a learning curve to creating the seal, but once you figure it out, you’ll love the results.
One reason I chose Kuyax over Mack’s is the higher NRR of 32 dB. That’s the highest I’ve seen offered by a silicone earplug. Another highlight is the BPA-free silicone material in Kuyax plugs is reusable, washable, and hypoallergenic. If you’re someone who experiences irritation from foam earplugs, you’ll most likely prefer silicone plugs.
Final considerations are they are waterproof for swimming, they’re great for side sleepers, and excellent for flying to avoid discomfort due to ear pressure. The biggest drawback is they cost the most per pair of the five brands in this guide.
- Less likely to cause irritation than foam earplugs
- The highest NRR of all silicone earplugs
- BPA-free and hypoallergenic
- Reusable and washable
- Carrying case included
- The best earplugs for side sleepers in this guide
- Good for people with small ears who experience pain with foam plugs
- Powerful enough to reduce loud snoring sounds to an acceptable level
- The highest cost per pair
- Harder to form a seal than foam earplugs
- You may find better value by choosing Mack’s
- More likely to fall out than foam plugs
#3) 3M 3101001 E-A-R Classic Earplug
The old-reliable of earplugs is certainly 3M E-A-R Classic. If you want a pair of plugs that consistently gets the job done for the cheapest price, then the 3M Classics are the first place to look. Unlike The Ear Buddy and Laser Lite, 3M Classic plugs have a straight cylindrical shape rather than a bell shape, which you may or may not prefer.
Of the five brands in this guide, 3M is the easiest to insert with the smallest learning curve. Slow-recovery, low-pressure foam means they’re easy to insert and comfortable to wear for long hours. Another advantage is the high 29 dB (CSA Class AL) NRR that you can actually trust because it’s sometimes hard to tell whether a company truly tests its earplugs or simply slaps an NRR on the label. With 3M, you know what you’re getting.
A couple of final highlights are their texture to prevent slipping, they’re moisture resistant for use in humid environments, and 200 pairs per box is enough to last most people a year or more.
- More affordable than silicone earplugs
- Consistent quality and verified NRR of 29 dB
- Trusted by construction workers to comply with OSHA safety standards
- Good for blocking out city sounds to get a good night’s rest
- Vastly dampen misophonia triggers
- The easiest to use of the five brands
- Comfortable to wear during sleep and long hours during the day
- Reusable pillow pack for storage included
- You might prefer bell-shaped foam over the cylindrical shape
- Too stiff for some
- They tend to fall out for some people
#4) Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Putty Earplug
If 3M is the old-reliable of foam earplugs, then Mack’s is the old-reliable of silicone earplugs. Of the brands in this guide, I have the most experience with Mack’s and Howard Leight. At first, I didn’t like Mack’s because I thought they didn’t work. However, I was wrong, and this goes back to what I was saying about getting a proper seal.
You’ll notice that when you first open the case, the earplugs have a sheet of plastic on both sides. Once you remove the plastic, you’ll notice that the sides of the earplugs are slightly sticky, yet not gooey. It’s important to preserve the sticky coat for as long as possible to create a tight seal in your ear because once the sides are no longer sticky, they’ll stop working.
The mistake I made was failing to create a seal & following the instructions to a T. Once you get the hang of using Mack’s, you’ll love these earplugs for sure because of how comfortable and effective they are. Compared to Kuyax plugs, Mack’s are cheaper, and they’re even the official earplugs of USA Swimming to give you a better idea of how reliable they are.
- The most reliable and best-value silicone earplugs on the market
- Waterproof seal that’s trusted by the USA swim team
- Amazingly comfortable, perfect for side sleepers
- Good for preventing swimmer’s ear
- Made in the USA and recommended by healthcare professionals
- BPA-free, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic
- No need to worry about discomfort inside your ear due to excessive pressure (like with some foam plugs)
- Several different size packs to choose from, including the individually-sealed 200 pair/box dispenser
- Lower NRR than the foam earplugs in this guide
- Inserting them properly to get a good seal involves a bit of trial & error
- Once they lose their stickiness, it’s basically impossible to get an airtight seal
#5) Howard Leight by Honeywell Laser Lite LL-1/3301105 Earplugs
Last but certainly not least is my personal favorite foam earplugs by Howard Leight. Of all the brands in this guide, Laser Lite is the cheapest by the pair. Once you feel how soft the foam is, you’ll instantly realize that these are great earplugs for just about any dry activity.
One really cool feature is the individual packets. The 200 pairs come in a box that dispenses each bag of 2 earplugs. I really like this because it makes them great for travel and to hide in places where you may need them at some point, such as in your purse, book bag, car, etc. Also, the individual packs ensure that each pair is clean, and I even store the plugs in the bag between uses until I’m ready for the next pair.
The one and only drawback I found with these is that the pink color tends to bleed a bit. I noticed that when I clean my ear with a Q-tip after removing these earplugs, the Q-tip turns a bit pink sometimes. While this doesn’t alarm me, you may consider it a dealbreaker.
- The cheapest earplugs by the pair of the five
- Super soft foam that’s good for all ear sizes
- Very easy to insert
- They don’t fall out easily
- The highest NRR of 32 dB
- Approved by construction workers
- Made with soil-resistant, closed-cell foam to prevent ear infections
- Comfortable enough to wear during sleep and powerful enough to dampen all sounds
- Convenient individual packets
- A top choice for muffling broadband sounds (both high and low-frequency triggers)
- The pink color might bleed
- The colors may confuse small children and look like candy (be extra careful when storing them)
- You may prefer Mack’s or other silicone earplugs for sleeping
- People with large ear canals may find them to be too small
Now you know how to choose the best earplugs for misophonia and the top earplugs currently available for all situations. If you’ve never tried any of the earplugs in this guide or earplugs before, Howard Leight and Mack’s are great places to start. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you prefer silicone earplugs for some situations, while foam earplugs are better for others. For this reason, I try to always have both types on hand.
If one thing is for sure, earplugs are one of the best ways for me to get real misophonia relief right alongside the best headphones for misophonia. With the help of these tools, meditation, and exercise, I’ve been able to get my anger response under control (for the most part). The biggest step for me was recognizing the cause of my anger, which happens to be certain sounds.