Foam Vs. Wax Earplugs

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Is noise in the bedroom robbing you of a good night's sleep? Or do you just want some peace and quiet from the many types of noises bombarding you everyday? Using earplugs might be the answer. Foam or beeswax earplugs are two types of inexpensive, easy-to-use earplugs available in drugstores.

Foam vs. Wax Earplugs

Making a decision on what type of earplugs to use depends on several factors, such as comfort, material, noise reduction rating, price, availability and number of times you can use them before disposal. The noise reduction rating (NRR) should be number one on your list when shopping for earplugs, because what good is an earplug if you can still hear noise? A rating of 15 to 33 decibels is a good rating, and in general, the higher the rating, the better the protection. Number two on your list should be fit and comfort, choosing the type of material an earplug is made of will determine which set will be best for you. The advantages of each are below.

Wax Earplugs

Wax earplugs are made of natural materials such as beeswax, sterile cotton and lanolin.

They are soft and mouldable and easily form a seal in the ear canal for a custom fit. They block out loud snoring and seal out water. They are reusable and suitable for all ages, and have a noise reduction rating of 15 to 45 decibels.

Foam Earplugs

Foam earplugs are made of moulded slow-recovery foam that can be washed and reused.

They are very inexpensive and have a reasonably snug fit, but you may hear some sound. Most foam earplugs have an NRR rating of 10 to 20 decibels. They are suitable for all ages and expand to fit the ear canal.


Earplugs are safe to use everyday, but there are a few things to watch for. Do not put dirty earplugs in your ears; either wash earplugs daily or use a fresh pair. Be sure to also wash your hands before handling earplugs; bacteria can be transferred to the ear canal and an inner ear infection is a possibility. Earplugs have also been known to block the natural secretion of wax from the ear if worn for long periods of time.