How to keep your earplugs clean so you can use them time after time

How to keep your earplugs clean: Earplugs being cleaned
(Image credit: Andrei Nasonov - Getty)

When we’re choosing some of the best earplugs for concerts, many of us won’t initially think about keeping them clean. However, if you want to use them gig after gig, then taking a few simple steps to keep your earplugs in top shape makes sense - especially if you’re a touring musician or regular gig-goer.

It’s also pretty easy to care for your earplugs, although if you’re using the cheaper foam versions, they’re only supposed to be used once. Another downside with these is they can’t be recycled, which is disappointing.

Some products like the popular Alpine MusicSafe Pro High Fidelity Music earplugs come with cleaning fluid and a small cloth, but it's worth noting that most earplugs don’t.

As for the importance of keeping your earplugs safe and sound, especially at an outdoor festival, Tinnitus UK advise: “In a field, if you drop an earplug, you definitely wouldn’t want to put it back in your ear. You don’t want to be getting an ear infection after a great weekend away.

“Keep a little sealable bag, something like a freezer bag, to hand to put them in when you aren’t wearing them. Some earplugs will come with a neck strap to attach them to, which means you can keep them safe. But if you don’t get a neck strap, a little sealable bag you can pop in your pocket or bag is a great way of keeping the dirt out.”

How to clean your earplugs

Man wearing earplugs at a gig

(Image credit: Eargrace)

1. Straight off the bat, wash your hands before getting stuck into cleaning your earbuds. Then take a damp cloth and carefully wipe down each earbud to clear the grime away. Pay attention to the tips as this is where earwax can build.

2. If you’ve forgotten to clean your earbuds after a festival and they’re still residing in a corner of your mud-splattered backpack, then a little more elbow grease might be necessary. Rather than just using a damp cloth, use soap and water to wipe them down - and if needed, grab an old toothbrush and use that to work into the nooks and crannies.

3. Where you store your earplugs is also important in keeping them in tip-top condition. Some brands such as the Eargrace High Fidelity concert earplugs come with a keyring holder, while others like the Flare Audio Isolate Pro come packed with a small mesh bag. Don’t leave them lying around as you just know one will inevitably get lost.

4. While some brands of earplugs will last longer than others, all earplugs should be replaced eventually. This will obviously depend how often you use them, but if you notice they’re becoming looser or see some degradation to the tips, then it’s time to stop cleaning them and let them go.

5. Always leave your cleaned earplugs to dry naturally. Don’t be tempted to perch them on top of a radiator or use a hairdryer to get the job done. Earplugs are delicate things and you don’t want to run the risk of damaging the materials… or see them disappearing down the back of the radiator.

Hopefully these tips for keeping your earplugs clean and hygienic will help you get more life from them so you can keep enjoying your favourite live music safely.

For more about protecting your hearing and for tinnitus support, visit Tinnitus UK.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.