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5 Quick Tips on How to Keep Earbuds from Falling Out

Last updated: 1 year ago
9 min read

Find out why your earbuds are falling out and how to keep them in place.

How to keep earbuds from falling out guide

In this article, we discuss several reasons why earbuds keep falling out. Some involve a user error, whereas our anatomy causes others. Knowing which one applies to you is key to successful troubleshooting.

Thankfully, there are many solutions to get your earbuds to stay in place. With these tips, you should get your stability back in no time.

CONTENTS (show more)

    How to Properly Insert Earbuds

    Before we start, you first have to master inserting earbuds properly.

    Many users push them into the ear canal. However, that doesn’t ensure your earbuds are all the way inside. They’re bound to fall out if they don’t have enough surface to grip.

    If you want your ears to grab the earbuds, try this method:

    • For example, when placing the left earbud into the left ear, use your right hand to reach over your head. Then, grab on top of the left ear’s earlobe. By pulling it up slightly, you will open the ear canal.
    Inserting earbuds
    Use the other hand to help get the optimal fit.
    • With your left hand, place your earbuds into your ear canal. Release the earlobe.

    When the earlobe settles, it should grab your earbuds firmly.

    How to Keep Earbuds from Falling Out?

    Once you insert your earbuds the right way, consider these steps:

    1. Wearing Earbuds the Right Way

    All earbuds are designed to fit in a specific way.

    • Classic earphones are the easiest to wear. You simply place them in your ears, without worrying about orientation.
    True wireless Apple Airpods.
    • Many in-ear headphones have slightly upward tilted nozzles. Basically, in the same direction as the ear canal.
    • If your earbuds have an over-the-ear cable design, use them that way. And don’t wear them with a cable straight down since they won’t fit properly.
    Imaging in ear monitors
    Earbuds with the over-the-ear cable require that you wear them in one way only. Otherwise, they don’t fit.

    2. Choose the Right Ear Tips

    Picking the correct earbud tip size is crucial.

    If none of the ear tips that come with your earbuds fit you, try some third-party solutions.

    Some people can have different-sized ear canals. For example, they might need small ear tips for the left ear and medium ear tips for the right ear.

    How do you know if you’re using the right ear tips?

    • When you place earbuds in your ears, you should hear a noticeable drop in ambient noise
    • Weak bass means poor seal. Bass quantity is also a good indicator of a proper fit.

    There are 5 major types of ear tips, with all having their advantages and disadvantages.

    Silicone Ear Tips

    These are the most common and come with all in-ear headphones. However, there are many sub-types of silicone tips.

    Silicone ear tips
    Silicone ear tips come in a variety of shapes.

    Starting with regular silicone tips, their best qualities are:

    • Durability: They can last for years and are easy to clean if they get dirty. Usually are quite sturdy, but they can tear if you pull them too hard.
    • Comfort: Regular tips don’t go that deep, which creates less pressure in your ear canal.
    • Isolation: Isolating properties are great but not the best.
    • Fit: Regular silicone tips aren’t the grippiest out there. Some perform better than others, but they tend to slip out when you mix them with ear wax or sweat.

    Multi-flanged Ear Tips

    These normally come with swimming or isolating earbuds since they offer high levels of noise isolation.

    However, they can be very tricky to use since they go pretty deeply into your ear canal, creating a strange sensation.

    You have to get used to this type of ear tips. Many users find them too awkward.

    They’re also not the best idea for clumsy users who regularly tuck the cables. Since they’re deep in your ears, pulling them too hard creates strong pressure, which can damage your eardrums.

    Foam Ear Tips

    Foam ear tips
    Three different types of foam tips (Comply & InAirs).
    • Comfort: In general, foam tips are very comfortable. They perfectly contour your ear canal and are soft, so you don’t feel pressure.
    • Fit: Memory foam tips improve the stability of your earbuds a lot. Since they contour your ear canals, they offer superior grip.
    • Isolation: Foam eartips are also great at blocking ambient noise. Sony even decided to put foam tips in their new true wireless earbuds WF-1000XM4 for improved active noise cancelling performance.
    • Durability: They’re the least durable. You have to be especially careful when taking them off the earbuds since they tear easily.

      Since they’re made of foam, you have to squeeze them constantly. And as you know, the foam does lose its shape after a while.

    • Sound: Another problem is a change in sound. Some call it “funneling” since foam tips can add more bass and make higher frequencies a bit smoother.

    How to insert memory foam tips

    When placing the left earbud:

    • First, squeeze the foam in the ear tip.
    Squeezed foam tip
    The squeezed foam eartips expand when you insert them in your ears, thus creating a better seal.
    • Use your right hand to reach over your head. Grab on top of left ear’s earlobe. By pulling it up slightly, you will open the ear canal.
    • With your left hand, place your earbuds into your ear canal. Release the earlobe.
    • Wait a couple of seconds for the foam to expand. 

    You will gradually hear less ambient noise, confirming the optimal seal.

    Hybrid Ear Tips

    Sony hybrid ear tips
    A selection of hybrid tips from Sony.

    Hybrid tips come in different mixtures. There are:

    • Silicone tips with foam underneath for better durability and added isolation
    • Silicone tips with stiffer or softer cores for different sound characteristics

    Custom Ear Tips

    They are the best solution for achieving a perfect fit. Custom tips are made for you and you only, so your friend can’t use them afterward.

    Custom ear tips
    In-ear monitors with custom eartips. They are the best option, but also the most expensive one.

    Some brands are selling custom-made earbuds. There are even wireless earbuds called Ultimate Ears Fits that let you do the molding at home.

    ADV Sound also make custom ear tips. On their site, you get the location where to take your ear impression and which earbud models are supported (they don’t make custom tips for all earbuds).

    You can also make DIY custom tips at home. Brands like Radians are selling putty to take ear impression. Here’s a more detailed description of how to do it.

    Foam Covers

    Earphones either use rubber sleeves or foam covers to grab your ear lobe better.

    Foamy covers do a better job of comfort and stability but aren’t as durable. They tear up easily if you aren’t careful.

    Foam covers for earphones
    Foam covers for classic earphones.

    Which are the Best for You?

    FOR EARBUDS: Memory-foam ear tips. They’re by far the best since the foam contours to your ear canal perfectly.

    Just make sure you buy tips that are compatible with your earbuds.

    FOR CLASSIC EARPHONES: Foam covers. Durability can be an issue, but they better grab your ears.

    3. Get Extra Stability Accessories

    If you tried everything above and the earbuds keep falling out, you might need other accessories. Some activities call for specific models.

    Jaybird X4 accessories
    Various accessories come with earbuds and can help with stability.

    You might need earbuds for running or specific sports headphones to stay in place during a rigorous workout. Alternatively, if your ears are tiny, you might need to look for earbuds that fit small ears.

    Some circumstances call for new earbuds. However, there are aftermarket products available to use with existing headphones.

    Best Accessories to Keep Earbuds From Falling Out

    • Ear Hooks

    Some earbuds come with ear hooks in the package. See the best wireless earbuds with ear hooks.

    Usually, they’re a piece of flexible silicone that shapes to your ears. You can also buy ear hooks separately as an aftermarket product.

    A lot of ear hooks are designed to be generic but don’t fit all earbuds. The best aftermarket ear hooks are usually made for the Apple EarPods and AirPods.

    Earbudi Ear Hooks
    • Ear Wings

    Ear wings are similar to hooks, except they sit within the ear. A lot of people mistake these for ear hooks.

    Many sport-oriented and true wireless earbuds use wing design.

    EarBuddyz 2.0 ear-wings

    4. Choose the Right Earbuds

    The best way to avoid future problems with earbuds falling out is to choose the right ones in the first place.

    Right off the bat, avoid classic earphones since they’re the least stable of the bunch.

    Instead, get earbuds with ear hooks or ear fins

    Hooks and fins ensure greater stability when performing rigorous movements. That’s why many active users like using them during workouts.

    Consider true wireless earbuds

    Having no wires to dangle around is genuinely refreshing. Suddenly, you don’t have to worry about the headphone cable getting stuck on a doorknob.

    True wireless earbuds connect via Bluetooth, with each bud working independently.

    Don’t mix “true wireless” with “wireless” earbuds since the latter still uses a wire to connect both earbuds.

    Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
    True wireless earbuds don’t have any wires, so you can’t accidentally pull them.

    Look for ergonomically shaped earbuds

    While it’s tough to differentiate an ergonomic design from an uncomfortable one, checking reviews can help you narrow down your search.

    Ergonomic earbuds are touching the larger surface of your ear’s skin. That ensures a more optimal grip, preventing earbuds from moving too much during usage.

    Opt for earbuds with custom ear tips

    As mentioned above, you can either purchase them from a manufacturer (like Ultimate Ears) or get them made out of your existing earbuds.

    When ordering from a manufacturer, they will send you a putty to make an impression of your ear.

    Use waterproof earbuds

    By that, we mean earbuds you can use for swimming. They have specially designed ear tips for maximum grip.

    Most of them also come with multi-flanged tips, which are more secure, albeit awkward to use.

    See the best waterproof headphones for swimming.

    Swimming in lake
    Swimming requires wired headphones since Bluetooth doesn’t work underwater.

    If possible, try them before purchasing

    Sadly, many stores don’t offer in-ear headphones to try out, only over-ears. The reason is hygiene.

    If everyone who comes into the store tried the same earbuds, they would be full of ear wax and gunk. Imagine putting other people’s dirt in your ears.

    But if your friend owns a pair that he/she likes, you might give them a try.

    Wear Ear Warmers for Extra Stability

    Using headbands for sports or ear warmers doesn’t look cool but at least your earbuds stay in place.

    However, using ear warmers can have its disadvantages.

    • By tucking them under the band, earbuds remain secure no matter what you’re doing.
    • The band can push earbuds further inside, making them uncomfortable.
    • Earbuds can change position, slightly altering their sound performance.

    Wired earbuds with over-the-ear cable

    Over-the-ear wiring offers many advantages when you want to stop earbuds from falling out. 

    Earbuds wearing style
    Some earbuds are worn with the cable down or over the ear.

    Firstly, it ensures better stability since the weight of both cable and earbuds is distributed on the ears. It’s also harder to push earbuds out of your ears if the cord gets tucked.

    Secondly, it reduces cable noise (microphonics) since your earlobes catch cable vibrations.

    5. Don’t Use Cotton Swabs to Clean Ears

    Cotton swabs (Q-tips) can push earwax further into your ears, making you susceptible to ear conditions such as the swimmer’s ear.

    In addition, the wax can make it very uncomfortable to wear earbuds and push wax up against the eardrum.

    Cotton swabs bad for ear health
    It’s best to use ear drops instead of cotton swabs (Q-tips).

    You might hear ear syringing is a more viable alternative, but that’s not true.

    The best way to deal with excess ear wax is to use ear drops of baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin, or diluted hydrogen peroxide (3% solution). You can get earwax removal kits at the local pharmacy.

    First, consult with your doctor what type of ear drops are best for you.

    ENT Doctors Debunk 11 Ear And Nose Myths | Debunked

    Why Earbuds Keep Falling Out?

    There are several reasons why earbuds don’t stay in place. Sometimes you can fix it, other times you can’t.

    Here’s a list of what can be the problem.

    Ear Shapes

    The best example are classic earphones. For some people’s ear shape, earphones stick well, but many are not that lucky.

    Anatomy of a human ear.

    The main problem is the outer ear design (pinna). Everyone’s ear is unique, just like a fingerprint.

    When designing earbuds, manufacturers have to take that into account. And even then, some products are incompatible with some users.

    Wrong Size of Ear Tips or Other Accessories

    Even too small tips can hold earbuds inside to some degree, but the sound is noticeably worse than expected.

    Try out all the included tips to see which ones fit best.

    Also, don’t resort to too big ear tips. While they can isolate well, they don’t reach as deep and will make your earbuds pop out.

    Excess Ear Wax or Sweat

    Ear wax naturally accumulates in your ears for protection from debris and lubricating eardrums.

    However, when warm, it can be very slippery. Also, most earbuds push ear wax back inside, meaning you have to clean your ears more regularly.

    Of course, the same goes for earbuds. They act as a cotton swab, picking up wax and attracting dirt.

    Disinfect earbuds
    Cleaning earbuds with Q-tips and some alcohol.

    When ear wax covers the mesh that protects the driver, earbuds start sounding worse.

    Read more on how to clean earbuds.

    Earbuds Too Close to the Jaw

    Your lower jaw has muscles that are connected close to your ears. As a result, when you chew, yawn, or talk, those muscles also move your ears.

    In practice, the closer your jaw is to your ears, the more ear movement they cause. That can affect how earbuds behave when in your ears.

    Exaggerated facial expressions, like smiling, can also cause earbuds to lose their seal.

    Ear Cartilage Deficiency Syndrome

    The lack of cartilage in your earlobes can occur before birth (when an embryo is developing) or as a result of an accident.

    There are various types of cartilage deficiency syndrome. Some only have differently shaped outer ears, while others have a small ear canal or, in some cases, no ear canal at all.

    Why It’s Important to get a Stable Fit in Earbuds?

    Using earbuds that you constantly need to readjust is annoying.

    Fit can also affect other things that can change your whole listening experience.

    It’s tough to find earbuds designed to fit everyone’s ears, so it might take some time before you find your perfect pair.

    Lack of Full Sound

    Since earbuds can’t produce a room-filling sound, they have to create a small, sealed environment. Without a proper seal, the sound doesn’t get as full.

    Stability plays a crucial role here, preventing your earbuds from jumping too much, thus breaking the seal.

    Bad Comfort

    No matter how great your earbuds sound, you will hate using them if the comfort is off.

    If something is pressing against your earlobes, it can start causing pain. A little pressure at the beginning can become unbearable after a while.

    Here’s how to prevent headphones and earbuds pain.

    Beats PowerBeats Pro are stable but lack the ergonomic design of the Jabra Elite Active 75t.

    Sometimes, you might have inserted earbuds incorrectly. However, in most cases, the housing is just too big.

    Check the most comfortable earbuds.

    Improved Passive Isolation

    Small details in music are easily masked by loud external noise. Therefore, blocking ambient noise is essential for improving sound quality.

    Good passive isolation is also crucial for active noise cancellation to work correctly. It’s the combination of both that yields the best results.

    Otherwise, you end up with something like Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, open-ear earbuds with terrible ANC.

    Related to headphone comfort: