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How to keep your earbuds from falling out

With each human skull being unique, it's hard to find advice on this subject.
By

Published onSeptember 10, 2022

Earbuds are an extremely convenient and portable way to listen to music or take calls, but they also can be a bit of a pain. They get lost, even while in your bag. The wireless ones run out of power and the wired ones get tangled. And most annoying—they drop out of your ear with alarming regularity. Everything from the position and movement of your temporomandibular joint to the amount of earwax present can affect the fit of your earbuds. With that in mind, we’ve assembled some tips on how to stop your earbuds from falling out that can apply universally to most buds.

QUICK ANSWER

To stop your earbuds from falling out, reach over your head with the opposite arm and pull the top of your ear up. Then insert the earpiece. Let go of your ear and let the ear canal close around the earbud. This will give you the best fit, and thus the best chance of your earbuds staying in.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Properly insert your earbuds

Before inserting your earbuds into your ears, make sure you don’t have the left and right earbuds confused. A model with a rigid earpiece, like the Apple Airpod, is meant to slightly spread your ear’s tragus and antitragus apart, to benefit from the grip produced when the cartilage tries to move back into its natural place. They differ from an in-ear unit, which is meant to be inserted into the outer part of the ear canal and held in place by the canal itself as well as a part called an ear wing, which rotates until it is wedged above the fold of cartilage just above the auditory meatus (the helicis crus).

For this type of model, reach over your head and pull up on the top of your ear (the helix) using the opposite arm. Insert the earpiece, and then let go. The ear canal will return to its usual shape, closing around the earbud and holding it in place.

Outer Ear Diagram

Choose the right tip

There are almost as many earbud tip shapes as there are earbuds. You should choose an earbud that comes with multiple tip sizes. Try them until you have the best, most comfortable fit offered. Remember that you do not have to use the same size tip on both ears. Not everyone’s ears are identical to each other.

Many ear tips are made of silicone. Switching to tips made of memory foam can greatly increase the cohesion between eartip and ear. With a memory foam tip, you roll the tip between your fingers to narrow it before putting it in your ear, and hold it in place while the memory foam expands again. This kind of tip will also give you better outside sound attenuation, but some users complain of inaccurate bass levels using memory foam. If you cannot find a proper fit, custom earpieces are an option, albeit an expensive one, from companies such as Ultimate Ears and Avery Sound.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro vs Sony WH 1000XM4 earbud size comparison

Clean your earbuds

You should clean silicone and plastic tips with diluted isopropyl alcohol. Use only a little liquid, to avoid it running into the electronics. Do not use bleach to clean them; it will discolor and stiffen the earpiece.

If you are worried about excess earwax causing a problem with your earbud’s fit, you can clean your inner ears by pouring a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear and tilting your head to let it pour out about five minutes later.

Add non-slip ear hooks

You can purchase third-party accessories for your earbuds that will help with the fit. You can buy ear hooks that will go over the tops of your ears and hold the earbud in place (pictured). There are also ear wings that lay against the folds of the ear. Many earbuds already have these components out of the box, so if you have between-sizes ears, check before you buy.

Amazfit Powerbuds Review in ear with ear hook

FAQs

In terms of auditory damage from the excessive volume, earbuds are no better or worse than other headphones or earphones. Excessive volume at the eardrum is what causes damage, regardless of the type of device used. Many models of earbud do seal off the ear canal, though, and doing that for too many hours a day increases the chance of irritation or even infection in the ear. A good rule of thumb is to restrict earbud usage to 90 minutes a day at 80% of maximum volume.

They are not likely to help or hinder you in keeping your earbuds in your ears, but they will keep the buds that fall out from going all the way to the floor. So yes, they are a safer option.

Yes, they do. Earbuds for noise cancelling are designed to have a snug fit. This creates a tight seal that aids in noise cancellation.