Subject Search Bar

Blu-Tack Ear Plugs & Swimming Not Safe

Don't use Blu-Tack* For Ear Plugs!

Lots of swimmers use Blu-tack as substitute earplugs because of its flexibility and it's easy moulding to the ear and apparently, some ENT specialist thinks it is Ok.

Picture of a headband to hold earplugs in Blu-Tack Ear Plugs & Swimming Not Safe.
Headband To Hold in Earplugs

But the parents of one of my students told me that their doctor was very unhappy with the idea, so I thought I would mention this in passing to our pediatrician.

If I were to say that pediatricians are not fans of Blu-Tack as a substitute for earplugs, I think that may be understating it a little.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

What happens, apparently is that tiny little bits flake off and stay in the ear. Thus Blu-tack is not a good thing for anybody: but if your child has tubes in their ears the results of Blu-Tack flakes are untold complications. In short, Don't Do it! Despite the apparent contradiction between specialists, why would you risk it when there are plenty of earplug substitutes and a lot of cheap effective earplugs so that you don't have to.


*Blu-Tack is a brand name that may be called different things in different countries. It is a flexible and pliable sticky substance the is intended for temporarily fixing things in place. I personally find it very useful in many situations. Its use in swimming is Not something that is promoted or recommended by the manufactures.


  1. Ouch! Good information to know, Richard!

  2. “why would you risk it when there are plenty of earplug substitutes and a lot of cheap effective earplugs so that you don't have to”: Because I have to. I have an apparent allergic reaction to EVERY type of earplug on the market save for the oily-ish silicone ones that seem not to stay in well due to (I gather) the oily-ish ness. Every single brand and type leaves my ears scarlet, itchy, and sore.

    I don’t react to Blu Tack in ANY manner. (My long hair sometimes gets stuck in it; this is the only drawback I’ve found.)

    When I first started with it, I molded it into a verrrry long point at one end and a small lump at the other, with the aim of putting it point-first into my ear canal. I stopped doing this within the first week after a painful trip to Urgent Care to get a piece of Blu Tack removed from my eardrum. (That was a major drag; I suggest you NOT make a very long cone the way I did. Shorter is better!)

    I can’t for the life of me imagine a squishy piece of rubber “flaking off”; I associate flaking with dry, crumbly things, but just to make sure, I took a video of the inside of my ears. (I’ve been using this stuff as earplugs for four years, so if anyone has Blu Tack crumbliest in her ears, it is I.) I see nothing in there that looks like crumbs of Blu Tack, for what it’s worth.

    1. I'm glad it works for you. Although I'd be intrigued to know why you have an allergic reaction to ear plugs and not Blu Tack because they are, I thought, essentially made from the same stuff; silicone.

    2. I think it’s microscopic so you wouldn’t see it but might effect you silicon or plastic isn’t good for people

  3. My one year old grandson has just had grommets. The swimming ear plugs are too big for his little ears. Looking for an alternative or a suggestion. Wondered about blu tack

    1. It's clear that some people get away with using blu tack. However it is also clear that some Pediatricians have had some serious problems with it. Perhaps there are cheap alternatives out that and that is what is causing the problem. who knows. I do know that you can buy moldable earplugs and they do not carry the same possible risk that Blu Tack does. If it were my child I'd be trying the moldable earplugs first. Just because Blu Tack works for some people is no guarantee that it won't be a bad result for your child. After all Blu Tack is not manufactured for ears. moldable ear plugs are and that is a significant difference to me.

  4. I had the exact same experience as Binky. The moldable silicone ear plugs don't keep the water out, because the oiliness prevents them from forming a seal. If your kids are prone to ear infections or have grommets, I recommend keeping their head out of the water or using Blu Tack (fresh Blu Tack, not old crumbly stuff that has been sitting in the sun for who knows how long). My recommendation is based off personal experience. I suffered a lot of pain as a child. Some specialists actually made things worse. So I also recommend paying attention to your child when they're uncomfortable or in pain.

  5. I've tried so many different ear plugs. As a surfer I swear by Blu Tack. I get 100% perfect seal every time. I keep the same blu tack as the oils keep it subtle and tacky which means it sticks better than the new stuff. My ENT said it was fine.