How to Clean Foam Earplugs


Sandy asked: How do I clean foam earplugs? I have been using a pair of earplugs for awhile and was wondering how to clean them or if they should just be thrown out.

Foam earplugs offer an extremely convenient way to protect your hearing while form fitting to your specific ear shape. While many of these are designed to be disposable, it is understandable that you will want to keep them as long as possible. There are some simple cleaning methods that will extend the life of the earplugs. However, once they become overly soiled and/or lose their pliability, it is best to dispose of them and start fresh with a new pair.

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Mild soap
  • Towel
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Soft cloth
  • Small bowl or dish

Steps to Clean the Earplugs:

  1. For a quick cleaning to remove earwax, etc., fill a small cup or dish with enough hydrogen peroxide to cover the earplugs completely.
  2. Allow the plugs to soak for a couple of minutes. The hydrogen peroxide will loosen any earwax that may be stuck to the surface.
  3. Remove them from the peroxide and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.
  4. Dry by placing between two towels and pressing down.
  5. Pull them back to their original shape as much as possible and allow them to air dry completely.
  6. For a more general cleaning to remove dirt, a mild soap or dish detergent will work best.
  7. Mix some water with dish detergent in a bowl or small dish.
  8. Place the earplugs in the water and rub them around with your fingers or a soft cloth to remove the dirt.
  9. After the dirt is removed, rinse them thoroughly under cold running water. It is important to remove all of the soap from the foam or it will lose its pliability.
  10. To dry them, place them on top of a clean towel. Cover with a second towel and press down gently to remove any excess water.
  11. Remove the earplugs from the towel and gently pull on the edges to restore their original shape.
  12. Allow them to air dry completely before using again.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • There are earplugs available that are made from rubber and are designed to be washed and reused. They offer a different level of comfort, but may be a viable option for those looking for something that will last.
  • Some have had luck washing the earplugs in with the normal laundry. Place them in a lingerie bag or wrap them in a strip of old pantyhose to keep them from falling all around in the washing machine. Allow them to air dry completely before use.
  • Placing dirty earplugs in your ears can introduce bacteria to the inner ear and lead to infections. It is well worth the time and money to keep your earplugs clean and replace them as needed.


  1. Joe says:

    Washing them, even with plain water, tends to destroy their ability to retain the compression you give them when you roll them between your fingers to make them small enough to slide into your ears. If they won’t hold that compression for at least a few seconds, they’ll immediately return to their full size and be useless. My answer isn’t perfect, but here it is: take pieces of Scotch-style transparent tape and press them against the plugs to pull off the dirt and wax accumulated. Keep daubing the tape against the foam until the tape is no longer sticky because it’s now coated with the removed dirt & wax.

    What I’d REALLY like to know is: what substance can I soak them in AFTER I wash them that will restore their ability to hold a compressed state (from rolling them small enough to slip into the ear) long enough to slip into the ear? You know that before they’re put on sale, they’re treated with some substance. Once that substance is gone, they’re just immediately springy and won’t hold the compression long enough to fit into your ear.

  2. Steve says:

    Yup, I’d love to know to wash ear plugs and have them retain their compressability too!

  3. Roger says:

    Same question here. Anyone figure out the mystery substance?

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