How to Select Hearing Protection

Hearing protection is important because your ears are composed of very delicate structures. [1] Whether you are going out to woods to cut some wood with a chainsaw, going to shoot archery, or your partner won't quit snoring, ear protection can help protect your hearing.


  1. Image titled Select Hearing Protection Step 1
    Select the right style. The two most common types of protection are muffs worn over the ears, and plugs worn in the ears. Muffs are comfortable for longer wearing times but are not effective when obstructed by eyeglasses or hats. Hearing plugs are less noticeable than muffs and their small size makes them convenient to put in a pocket.
  2. Image titled Select Hearing Protection Step 2
    Check the noise reduction rating (NRR). All hearing protection devices are rated according to how much noise (in decibels) they will reduce for the wearer. For general use, look for NRR of 25 or greater. Actual noise reduction will probably be about half of the manufacturer's NRR, because ratings were obtained under perfect lab conditions.
  3. Image titled Select Hearing Protection Step 3
    Consider cost. Disposable ear plugs are available for about $1; muffs, about $15. Disposable plugs are popular for short wearing periods but can be expensive if protection is needed on a regular basis. Reusable plugs or muffs may be a better choice for frequent wearers.
  4. Image titled Select Hearing Protection Step 4
    Use clean items. Disposable plugs cannot be washed or used again. Use warm, soapy water to wash reusable devices; thoroughly rinse and dry them, and store in a clean, covered container.
  5. Image titled Select Hearing Protection Step 5
    Look for hearing protection devices at a local farm supply store, a farm hospital clinic, or order from safety supply companies.


  • Farm operators who put cotton in their ears to soften loud noises are getting little protection, and a dangerous false sense of security. It helps to know how to select the right kind of hearing protection for the farm task at hand. Here are some considerations:
  • A wad of cotton won't protect the ears from a day of grinding feed, combining beans, or vaccinating livestock.

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Categories: Ear Care