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How To Clean Silicone Ear Plugs For Consistent Reuse

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Skye Rhodes

Earplugs are devices that can be problematic to clean but here we will present you with how to clean silicone earplugs.

You put them into the ear canal to protect you from many outside objects/noises.

Earplugs come in different types, sizes and can be made from different materials, and can be disposable or reusable.

People often choose the ones that are best suited for their needs.

Different factors are considered before choosing the right earplugs.

One has to consider whether it is to be used once-off or regularly.

You also need to think about why you need earplugs, and to get the molded, or a custom-made one for you. 

How To Clean Silicone Ear Plugs For Consistent Reuse

In this article, we will demonstrate how to clean silicone earplugs properly for consistent reuse.

History Of Earplugs

The earliest mention of earplugs was in Ancient Greece.

In Greek mythology, Odysseus wanted to know what the famous song of the sirens was.

The sirens were known for luring the ship crew with their beautiful singing and causing them to crush and die.

Odysseus wanted to be the only man to have heard the siren song and survived.

He ordered his men to tie him up and restrain him so that he would not be tempted to jump into the water.

The men were advised to plug their ears with beeswax to prevent them from following the siren song.

As they passed by, Odysseus heard the song of the sirens and ordered his men to untie him but they only tied him tighter.

The men could not hear this song because their ears were completely sealed.

The beeswax may have served its purpose but having beeswax in the ears must have been very uncomfortable.

As time passed, the need for earplugs arose and people used whatever they could find, from cotton to wax.

In 1907 the first earplugs were manufactured by Max Newgar.

Years later, the first silicone earplugs were invented and they were more comfortable and safe.

People mostly preferred silicone earplugs because they did not melt in the ears as wax did.

The first foam earplugs were used in 1972, after the invention of memory foam by Rose Garner back in 1967.

Today, many types of earplugs are readily available, and the option to have them custom-made has also been made available.

Types Of Earplugs

As we mention above the disposable earplugs, often tend to be cheaper but have to be disposed of after every use. 

Reusable earplugs, on the other hand, can be used multiple times and have to be cleaned often.

They are especially suitable for those who need earplugs regularly.

An example of reusable earplugs is silicone earplugs.

There are many types of earplugs today but the following are the most common:

Foam Еarplugs

Foam earplugs are either made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU).

They are rolled and put into the ear canal, and they expand to plug in and fit into the ear.

Foam earplugs are mostly disposed of after use and are much cheaper.

Although foam earplugs are cheaper, they can end up being more costly especially with regular users.

The fact that foam earplugs are not reusable means that for regular users, the earplugs need to be disposed of.

Buying new sets of earplugs daily may end up being very expensive.

Wax Еarplugs

Wax earplugs are made from natural wax.

They warm up using the body’s heat and adjust to the size and shape of your ear. 

Custom Еarplugs

Custom earplugs are molded to fit perfectly into the ear. 

A mold of the ear canal is taken by a specialist and is used to produce earplugs.

These earplugs are initially expensive but are customized for the user’s needs, size, and shape.

The other types of earplugs are pre-molded and are usually made in a standard size.

Silicone Earplugs

The first moldable silicone earplug was invented in the year 1962 by Ray and Cecilia Benner.

They later on designed and produced ‘Mack’s pillow-soft earplugs’.

They were appealing because they did not melt in the heat like beeswax and were much more comfortable.

Silicone earplugs were made in such a way that they fitted on the outer part of the ear canal and not inside it.

Silicone earplugs are made from moldable silicone rubber. 

They are waterproof, non-irritant, and non-allergenic.

The Use of Silicone Ear Plugs

Swimming

Silicone earplugs can be used by swimmers to prevent water from getting into the ears.

Swimmers are prone to an ear infection that is known as swimmer’s ear, but it can be very painful and itchy.

Swimmer’s ear or Otitis externa is an infection of the outer ear canal. 

It occurs when water is stuck in the ears after swimming. 

Most people shake their heads while tilting it or hold their ear lobe and bend the head to get the water out.

While doing this may get rid of some of the water, some water may still be trapped in the ear canal.

The trapped water causes dampness and moistness in the ears.

As well as providing an environment that is suitable for the growth of bacteria and fungi.

Wearing earplugs is a preventative measure that can save one from a lot of pain and spending.

Silicone earplugs are waterproof and completely seal the ear, thus preventing water from being trapped in the ears.

Surfers can also use earplugs as they are at the same risk of having water trapped in their ears.

Considering the salty water and the bacteria that is in the ocean, surfers are at greater risk.

They should make sure that earplugs are worn whenever they surf. 

Divers on the other hand are not encouraged to use readily available earplugs when diving.

This is because they can pose serious health risks. 

The deeper they dive, the more the pressure increases.

This pressure can push the earplug deeper into the ear canal or cause the earplug to break and get trapped.

Sleeping

Some of the world’s population (30%) is not getting enough sleep.

Sleeping in a noisy environment is something that most people find difficult to do.

Lack of sleep may lead to mental, physical, and emotional draining. 

This can cause long-term health problems.

Prolonged lack of sleep can lead to depression, anxiety, memory loss, hypertension among many others.

People who live close to a freeway may find sleeping difficult.

Using earplugs will block out this noise and help them sleep better.

Noise from a snoring partner can be very disturbing especially to light sleepers.

A person who sleeps next to a snoring partner can use silicone earplugs to block out this noise.

This will help contribute to their overall health and wellness which may have otherwise been at risk.

Noise Reduction

People who work in a loud environment such as in construction need to wear earplugs.

Exposure to loud noise for a long time can lead to hearing loss.

Sources of loud noise can be events such as concerts, power tools, sirens, and many more.

Hearing loss is a decrease in the ability to hear.

Earplugs can be used to reduce these noises, protecting the ears from hearing loss.

Flying 

Silicone earplugs can be used when flying to reduce ear pain.

They help equalize the air pressure in the ear canal.

Why You Should Choose Reusable Silicone Earplugs?

One of the best advantages of using silicone earplugs is the fact that they can be reused.

For regular earplug users, this is especially significant as it is more pocket friendly than buying disposable earplugs every time.

They are also easy to use and relatively efficient.

Reusable earplugs do need regular cleaning to reduce the chances of an ear infection occurring.

Earplugs tend to get dirty from ear wax, handling, and the type of storage.

We will be looking at how we can clean, disinfect, store, and maintain earplugs for consistent reuse. 

Insertion And Removal OF Silicone Earplugs

Before we delve into the process of how to clean silicone earplugs, it is important to understand the way of inserting and removing earplugs.

Before inserting the earplugs, it is important to read and understand the instructions written on the packaging of the earplugs.

To insert the silicone earplug, you first have to clean your hands with soap and water.

The ear is then pulled back away from the head to open up the way.

It is then carefully inserted into the now open ear canal.

Care and gentleness should be exercised.

The earplug should not be pushed too far into the ear canal.

To remove the earplug, the edge of the earplug is to be held and gently pulled out.

Cleaning Your Silicone Ear Plugs

Step 1: Soaking

Cleaning earplugs is an easy process and should be done after every use.

To clean silicone earplugs, warm water should be used.

Put enough warm water in a bowl that can allow for the earplugs to be submerged.

Warm water is used to help loosen the ear wax.

To the warm water, a cleaning substance should be added.

One can use a mild soap like dishwashing soap or hydrogen peroxide.

Add a small amount of the cleaning solution, and using a spoon, stir the mixture.

The silicone earplugs are then submerged in warm water.

Ensure that the water covers them, and should they float, hold them in place using your fingers.

Let the silicone earplugs soak in the warm water for 5-10 minutes.

Soaking the earplugs will ease the process of cleaning.

Step 2: Scrubbing

Once the earplugs have soaked in the water for a few minutes, remove them, and pour out that water.

The water will be dirty, and it is better to use clean water.

Put warm water in the bowl, add a cleaning solution, and stir to mix it in.

Put the silicone earplugs back into the water.

Scrubbing can either be done with a finger, a clean cloth, or a soft toothbrush.

Both way, the goal is to make sure that all the wax and the dirt has been removed.

If you decide to use a toothbrush, buy a new one.

This is because old toothbrushes can have bacteria.

Therefore, this will be transferred to the earplug, which may increase the likelihood of an ear infection.

Gently scrub the earplugs one at a time, making sure that all the parts of the earplugs are scrubbed to remove all the dirt and wax.

Scrub one at a time, making sure that you get all the dirt out.

Step 3: Rinsing

Once you have done with scrubbing, your earplugs are now clean, and it is time to rinse them to remove the soap.

It is advisable to clean your silicone earplugs with running water to ensure that there will not be any soap residue.

Holding the earplugs in your clean hand, let clean tap water run through them for a few seconds while flipping them to rinse off all of the soap.

If tap water is not close by, then use a clean container to pour the water over the earplugs.

The silicone earplugs are then ready to air dry.

Step 4: Disinfecting

Disinfecting your silicone earplugs is an optional step but, it would be best to carry it out.

An alcohol spray can be used to disinfect the silicone earplugs.

The alcohol spray is lightly sprayed on the silicone earplugs.

Disinfecting your earplugs ensures that all of the harmful bacterias are dead hence eliminating the chance of getting an infection. 

Maintaining Your Earplugs

Storage

Silicone earplugs are supposed to be stored in a clean and dry place.

While it may seem easier to put them in your pocket after use, this can be harmful and may also lead to damage to your silicone earplugs. 

Use the case that came with the earplugs for storage.

Clean the container with warm soapy water.

Rinse it and allow it to air dry before disinfecting it as well.

It is important to ensure that both the earplugs and the casing are completely dry. 

If any of them are wet, it will be an ideal place for bacteria to grow.

If by any chance, the original casing is not available, or if they were bought without, then use a small empty container.

It is important to make sure that the container is clean and disinfected.

Whether the earplugs are to be carried around should be put into consideration when looking for an alternative to the casing.

Disposal After Wearing

When the silicon earplugs appear to be torn or worn out or if they have lost their effectiveness, they should be disposed of.

Reusable earplugs are also to be replaced every 2-4 weeks, depending on the frequency of use.

Remember to always keep earplugs out of reach of children as they can be a choking hazard.

Do Not Share Earplugs

Earplugs should not be shared for any reason at all.

Sharing earplugs is unhygienic and can lead to ear infections.

If you need to use earplugs regularly, have an extra set or two in your bag at all times.

Do Not Wear Earplugs Every Day

For people who use earplugs to sleep better or those who have snoring partners, it can be tempting to use silicone earplugs daily.

However, regular use of earplugs can do more harm than good. 

They can push wax deeper into the ear canal or lead to an ear infection.

It is best to assess when you need or do not need to wear earplugs.

If wearing them is not necessary, you can give your ears a break and skip wearing them.

Avoid Touching Your Earplugs

Our hands carry all types of bacteria. 

We go about our day touching different surfaces.

Handling earplugs with unclean hands will transfer those bacteria to our ears.

It is then important to make sure that your hands are well cleaned before touching your earplugs.

One should also avoid unnecessarily touching earplugs.

Proper Ear Hygiene

Part of cleaning earplugs is also making sure that the ears are well cared for and cleaned. 

Ear wax can sometimes look filthy, but it is important for the ears.

It is what the ear uses to clean, disinfect, and lubricate itself.

A healthy amount of wax is then a sign of healthy ear canals.

However, ear wax buildup can sometimes block the outer part of the ear canal, especially when using earplugs.

If you have a painful ear, trouble hearing, or you notice buildup, avoid cleaning it yourself.

You should visit your doctor for an assessment and cleaning.

Attempting to clean your ears yourself can make it worse by pushing the wax deeper into your ears.

Finding The Best Silicone Earplugs

Earplugs can be used for various reasons. 

It is important to first understand why you need earplugs before buying them.

If you have trouble sleeping or you have a snoring partner, then the main aim is to get the best sleeping earplugs.

If you work in a noisy place or you are attending a concert or any other loud event, then the aim is to have earplugs that are suitable for noise cancellation.

If you are a swimmer, you need earplugs that will keep water out of your ears.

After identifying why earplugs are required, the next thing is to find the best earplugs for your required need.

It is important to consider the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) before purchasing silicone earplugs.

Noise Reduction Rating is the unit of measurement that is used to determine the effectiveness of earplugs and other hearing protection devices.

The higher the NRR, the greater the potential of noise reduction and vice versa.

The normal NRR range for earplugs is between 15 and 35, with 35 being the highest and most effective.

Consider your budget and how often you will need earplugs.

If they are to be used often, purchasing a set may be more economical.

Advantages Of Reusable Silicone Earplugs

They are easy to use.

Reusable silicone earplugs are comfortable, easy to install as well as remove.

Silicone earplugs are made from non-irritant and non-allergenic silicone rubber.

This makes them safe to use.

They can be used widely.

Since silicone earplugs are waterproof, swimmers can use them.

Their noise-canceling ability also makes them ideal for those who want to sleep soundly.

Disadvantages of Reusable Silicone Earplugs

Silicone earplugs are generally safe, but they do come with their shortcomings and side effects.

All earplugs can push ear wax deeper into the ear, causing buildup, which can lead to temporary hearing loss.

Earplugs can also cause ear infections if the earplugs are not cleaned well, bacteria can grow on them.

Ear infections are excruciating, and if left untreated, they can lead to serious complications such as loss of hearing.

Final Thoughts

People widely use earplugs, but the right information is sometimes not available.

The ear is a very important organ and understanding earplugs before you plug them in is equally important.

Having the right information will make you make the best decision, and prevent the occurrence of health complications.

Now that we have understood how to clean silicone earplugs and maintain them, we have protected our ears from the risk of ear infections.

The best thing about silicone earplugs is that they can be used broadly.

Therefore meeting many of the needs of earplug users.

With proper cleaning and maintenance, silicone earplugs will serve you well and last longer, hence saving you money.

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