FAQs About Ear Defenders

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about ear muffs/ear defenders.

 

Do ear defenders block out sound?

Ear defenders reduce the volume of sound, but they don’t block it out completely. Sometimes when people buy ear defenders for the first time they are disappointed because they expect them to completely block out sound, but this isn’t the case even with the most expensive ear defenders.

Ear defenders can’t completely block out sound because sound is partly carried to your ear drum through your cranial bone in a process called bone conduction, and ear defenders can’t stop this from happening.

 

Are ear defenders safe for babies?

If your baby is under the age of 3 months, it’s best to avoid ear defenders. At this age babies will be able to sleep through most sounds, though you should keep your baby away from very loud noises.

Several manufacturers produce ear defenders specifically for babies from about 3 months upwards. Banz Mini Earmuffs could be a good option for older babies and toddlers.

 

Are ear defenders classed as PPE?

Yes, ear defenders are classed as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Employers in the UK are now required by law to offer hearing protection to employees if they are exposed to 85 decibels of noise on a regular basis (see exact regulations here).

Here are some recommended industrial ear defenders.

 

Can you sleep in ear defenders?

Ear defenders are good at blocking out irritating noises that might keep you awake such as the sound of traffic or noisy neighbours. However, sleeping in ear defenders can be uncomfortable for many people. Whether or not you can sleep in ear defenders will depend on your sleeping style and personal preferences.

If you find it hard to sleep in ear defenders you might find ear plugs more comfortable.

 

Ear defenders vs. ear plugs – which are better?

This depends on your personal taste as well as what you are using them for. Here are some of the pros and cons of ear defenders and ear plugs.

Ear Defenders ProsEar Defenders ConsEar Plugs ProsEar Plugs Cons

  • Easy to fit—just place over the head

  • Can be shared

  • Keep your ears warm while working outside


  • Can get too hot

  • Can be too tight over the head

  • Don’t seal the ear canal as well as ear plugs

  • Bigger and heavier than ear plugs

  • Usually more expensive


  • Seal your ear canal better than ear defenders

  • Small and light

  • Usually cheaper


  • Less hygienic

  • Not reusable

  • More uncomfortable for some people