Have you ever gone to the park and looked on in utter dismay and pure jealousy as runners speed past you with their earbuds perfectly in place? All the while, you’re pushing your ears, twitching your head, and feeling outright uncomfortable as you try to keep your buds in. Well if you’re wondering how to get earbuds to stay in when you want them to, you’re not alone.
You’d be surprised to know the challenge most people face each time they put their earbuds in. Sure, there are some lucky souls who can pop those buds right into their ear canal and be ready to go. For most of us, that’s just not happening. Instead, it is quite common to spend a lot of time trying to get those small speakers to not fall out.
So, what’s the deal? Why are the so-called “one size fits all” earbuds falling out all the time? Is it a mass conspiracy from hardware companies to make their customers angry? Below we’ll get to the bottom of the problem and even discuss what you can do to make sure your earbuds stay in (without taping up your head!).
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Why Do Earbuds Fall Out?
As noted, you are not alone with your earbud woes. Most people struggle to keep their buds in. It turns out the problem is the one size fits all approach of these products. It doesn’t make sense since we’re all different, and our ears are most definitely not one size fits all!
- Ear Canals are different sizes – You’re probably not surprised to learn most people have ear canals of different lengths. While the average length is 2.5 centimeters (1-inch) and average diameter 0.7 centimeters (0.3 inches), there’s a lot of wiggle room on either side. For example, children have smaller ear canals than adults.
- A big wax stop sign – It’s hardly a pleasant image but the reality is ear wax plays a part in keeping your earbuds in place or not. Ear canals that have too much wax can literally block earbuds from embedding properly. A sure way to see if this is happening is to check your buds after use. If they have wax on them, you probably have too much wax in your ear.
- Ear and jaw proximity – Another anatomy quirk that makes us all different is the space between our ears and our jaw. More specifically, the ear canal and the temporomandibular joint that acts as the hinge for the jaw. When this joint moves it misshapes the ear canal, albeit temporarily. People constantly move their mouth so the closer the joint to the ear canal, the more likely earbuds will fall out.
How Do I Get Earbuds to Stay In?
With that in mind, how do you get your buds to stay in? One regular piece of advice we come across is to take a trial-and-error approach. In other words, if one pair of earbuds keeps falling out, head to the store and buy another pair… then continue this process until you find THE pair.
That may look like good advice on paper, but in practice it’s not really going to work for most people. Especially as some spend hundreds of dollars on earbuds. Even if you have a $10 pair, it hardly makes sense to keep buying until you find the right ones.
Wear Them Correctly
Yes, that’s some flippant advice on the surface, but it’s common for people to not wear their earbuds the way they were intended. For example, with wired buds, looping the wire around the ear first is an excellent way to keep them in place.
If you have Bluetooth wireless earbuds, it’s all about holding them in place. Put the tip of the bud into your ear canal and then gently push the body of the bud into position.
Get Some Ear Hook Earbuds
Sports people usually choose an earbud that has a hook attached to it. This means there is a hook that clamps around your outer year and holds the bud into position. This is certainly a way to avoid any hassle with fitting your buds and works for any ear size. Another engineering trick to look for is waterproof earbuds.
With waterproofing, your buds will be more resistant to sweat and less likely to slide out of your ear randomly. Of course, you also get the added benefit of being able to use the earbuds without problems in the rain.
Choose Buds with Moldable Tips
Some in-ear buds come with foam or rubber tips that can fit themselves to the specific shape of your ear canal. These products go deeper into the canal. To use them, squeeze the foam or rubber and place it into your ear canal, allowing the material to return to normal shape within your ear.
Here are some of our best tips for keeping your earbuds in position and feeling comfortable:
- Wear the correct size tip – When you buy earbuds with removable tips, your product probably ships with several tip sizes. Try each of these sizes (for example, small, medium, or large) to see which fits your ear best. You will be amazed by the difference simply having the correct size tip makes in allowing the buds to fix into position properly.
- Stop using cotton swabs – Cleaning your ears is a good thing but most people clear incorrectly by using cotton swabs. The problem with swabs is they only clean outer wax and compacts inner ear wax deeper into the ear canal. This is not only potentially harmful, but it leads to a build-up of wax the cotton swab will never get to. In turn, this build-up will prevent earbuds from nestling deeply enough into your ear. Most doctors say you don’t need to clear your ears because the body does a good job of doing that for you.
- Keep Them In – Sometimes it feels like your earbuds aren’t secure when they are really in tight. It’s easy to get paranoid when you have a history of your buds slipping out. However, in many cases you may find the earbud is secure even if it does not feel like it. To test your fit, move and tilt your head.