How to Sterilize Ear Plugs

Updated February 21, 2017

Whether you are a musician or a labourer who works in a loud environment, ear plugs can save you from future hearing loss. Hearing loss is often gradual and goes unnoticed for years. By using a good set of ear plugs now, you can maintain your hearing in your later years. It is important to clean your ear plugs on a regular basis in order to prevent bacteria from entering your ear canal and causing ear infections.

Wipe your ear plugs with an alcohol swab to kill bacteria. Throw the alcohol swab out after use. You can buy alcohol swabs at your local pharmacy, grocery store or all-purpose retail outlet such as Target or Wal-Mart.

Place the ear plugs in a small container of rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to keep them clean. Allow the ear plugs to sit in the liquid for several minutes. This method can be used on occasion, but use alcohol swabs for everyday cleaning. Use at least 70 per cent Isopropyl alcohol to sterilise anything that may accumulate bacteria over time.

Boil about 1 qt. of water and carefully place your ear plugs in the pot. Do not drop them in too fast, as the water may splash and cause burns to your hands or other exposed skin. The boiling water will kill any bacteria on the ear plugs and will also infiltrate holes and surfaces you could not reach with alcohol swabs. Be sure to read the directions that came with your ear plugs prior to attempting this, as some models may be damaged by heat.

Clean your ear plugs using warm water with a bit of antibacterial soap applied to a clean, soft cloth. This type of soap can be found in most stores and can kill up to 99 per cent of the bacteria that may be on your ear plugs. Use a clean cloth to remove any visible ear wax or debris. Rinse your ear plugs after cleaning them with soap. Allow them to dry thoroughly before using them again; you do not want to introduce any liquids into your inner ear that may cause an infection.


Rubber ear plugs are designed to withstand many cleanings. Disposable foam ear plugs are not as durable. If, after several cleanings, your disposable foam ear plugs have become permanently soiled or have lost their pliability, it is time to get a new pair.

Things You'll Need

  • Ear plugs
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Small cup or other container
  • Rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 qt. boiling water
  • Anti-bacterial soap
  • Clean cloth
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About the Author

Christian Mullen is a graduate from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in finance. He has written content articles online since 2009, specializing in financial topics. A professional musician, Mullen also has expert knowledge of the music industry and all of its facets.