The Best Ear Protection for Mowing and Comfort

If you like mowing the lawn but worry about the damage your mower could be doing to your ears, this guide on the best ear protection for mowing will help.

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Jan 2, 2024 10:48 AM

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A person using the best ear protection for mowing while using a riding lawn mower in a wooded area.


For a lot of folks, getting on or behind a lawn mower is a moment of zen. It’s a chance to clear their thoughts, get some fresh air, and enjoy themselves. But it can be hard to get into the flow of things with that loud lawn mower chattering away.

Lindsey Hyland, founder of Urban Organic Yield, a gardening lawn care website based in Tucson, Arizona says, “I cannot stress enough the importance of ear protection while mowing the lawn. On average, a lawn mower operates at around 90 decibels, which is significantly higher than the safe sound limit of 85 decibels set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).”

Thankfully, ear protection can block out some of those decibels and keep the noise to a minimum and protect hearing in the long run. Choosing the best hearing protection for lawn mowing takes research, but it is worth it to protect the operator’s hearing quality. It’s important to learn a bit about the options available, including the different styles and protection they offer. This guide will explain it all and even showcase some of the best hearing protection for lawn mowing.

  1. BEST OVERALL: 3M Peltor X2A Earmuffs
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: 3M Banded Hearing Protector
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Honeywell Howard Leight Digital AM/FM Earmuff
  4. BEST OVER-THE-HEAD: Decibel Defense Safety Earmuff
  5. BEST PLUGS: Vibes High Fidelity Ear Plugs
  6. BEST WITH RADIO: DeWalt Digital AM/FM Hearing Protector
  7. BEST WITH BLUETOOTH: 3M WorkTunes Connect Wireless Hearing Protector
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: Hearos Xtreme Foam Ear Plugs
A person using the best ear protection for mowing while using a brush cutter in a large yard.


How We Chose the Best Ear Protection for Mowing

When it comes to the best hearing protection, we’re not short on experience. Years of lawn mowing, construction projects, and other noisy activities taught us exactly what to look for in these options to prevent any hearing loss. So we set out to put together a top-notch list of products we have firsthand experience with to promote comfort while mowing as well as protecting against hearing loss.

First, we considered the features needed from ear protection. One of the most important considerations is the type of ear protection based on preference and comfort level. According to Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love in San Diego, California, “People typically choose between earmuff-style headphones and earplugs, and as long as they cancel out sound effectively, both work. Personally, I prefer earmuff-style headphones because they stay more securely on my head, but I often end up wearing earplugs in the summer because of the heat.”

Then, we performed extensive product research and collected models that met those criteria from some of our favorite manufacturers. Finally, we compared each device’s quality, protection, and price to ensure the products we suggested offered enough value.

Our Top Picks

After covering all of that information about the best hearing protection for mowing lawns, it’s time to start shopping. The following are some of the best products on the market, ensuring that time spent clipping that Kentucky bluegrass is as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Best Overall

3M Peltor X2A Earmuffs on a white background.

Product Specs 

  • NRR: 24 dB
  • Style: Over the ear
  • Connectivity: None


  • Reduces audible noise levels by 24 dB while remaining affordable
  • Telescoping and tilting twin-wire headband stays in place while in use
  • Thick foam pads provide comfort during long-term projects


  • No Bluetooth connection integrated; may not be ideal for some users

Folks looking for an all-around capable set of over-the-ear muffs will want to check out the Peltor X2A from 3M. This muff-style ear protection provides an NRR (noise reduction rating) of up to 24 decibels (dB), allowing users to protect their hearing whenever they’re lawn mowing.

These muffs feature a breathable two-wire headband design that remains completely hidden inside a protective coating to prevent accidental shocks near low-voltage circuitry. This design will also keep users comfortable whether they’re wearing them on their head or around their neck while mowing lawns. The cups tilt and telescope as well, giving these muffs a one-size-fits-all design. Also, the thick foam pads seal off users’ ears effectively while remaining comfortable, and they’re replaceable should they begin to wear down. If there’s any room for a complaint, it’s that these muffs don’t offer Bluetooth or radio connectivity.

What our tester says: Mark Wolfe, Bob Vila staff writer and tester, notes in our tested guide that “the open headband uses two separate wires to allow for plenty of airflow, while the plastic cups are lightweight to reduce discomfort. The soft foam ear cushions create a tight seal without discomfort.”

Get the 3M X2A ear protection at Amazon or Grainger.

Best Bang for the Buck

3M Banded Hearing Protector in its packaging on a white background.

Product Specs 

  • NRR: 28 dB
  • Style: In the ear
  • Connectivity: None


  • Flexible plastic band to keep plugs conveniently nearby between uses
  • 28 dB of noise reduction to protect against hearing loss
  • Soft foam plugs are replaceable for convenience and cleanliness


  • Require placing in the ear, which is uncomfortable for some users

Any DIY landscaper or lawn-care pro who likes to keep hearing protection conveniently at hand will want to check out the 3M Banded Hearing Protector in-ear plugs. These soft foam plugs sit inside the ear, taking the shape of the ear canal and blocking out dangerous dB levels. In fact, these in-ear plugs provide an NRR of 28 dB.

These earplugs sit on the ends of a flexible plastic band, which allows users to wear the earplugs around their neck when they’re not in use and keep them close at hand for when the mower starts up. Also, the plugs themselves are replaceable, allowing users to purchase an affordable band and replace the plugs each time they mow for clean, safe hearing protection. The only downside is that these plugs do go inside the ear, and that may be a deal-breaker for some.

Get the 3M banded ear protection at Amazon or The Home Depot.

Upgrade Pick

Honeywell Howard Leight Digital AM/FM Earmuff on a white background.

Product Specs 

  • NRR: 25 dB
  • Style: Over the ear
  • Connectivity: AM/FM radio and an auxiliary input


  • AM/FM radio transmission and auxiliary jack for mobile devices
  • Highly visible green finish for safety on jobsites
  • Air Flow Control tech keeps size and weight down
  • Replaceable muffs extend the life of the investment


  • Batteries are not rechargeable; may not be ideal for some users

Lawn mowing isn’t universally loved, and some folks prefer to make the job go faster by taking their minds off it. That’s just what the Honeywell Howard Leight Digital AM/FM Earmuff can offer. These over-the-ear muffs provide a noise reduction rating of 25 dB, taking the typical lawn-mower noise level of 90 dB down to a safe 65 dB. At the same time, these muffs allow the user to crank up the tunes, offering AM/FM radio connection as well as an auxiliary input jack for linking with a mobile device.

These upgrade-worthy muffs provide protection and comfort without adding weight or size thanks to the patented Air Flow Control tech in the ear pads. And DIYers who are concerned about coughing up the dough only to find that the pads wear out will be glad to know that they’re easily replaceable. The high-visibility finish is also a benefit, allowing users to be seen even if they’re not paying attention. The drawback? They’re a bit expensive and the batteries are replaceable, not rechargeable.

Get the Honeywell ear protection at Amazon.

Best Over-the-Head

Decibel Defense Safety Earmuff on a white background.

Product Specs 

  • NRR: 37 dB
  • Style: Over the ear
  • Connectivity: None


  • Extremely high NRR rating blocks out 37 dB to prevent hearing loss
  • Sliding and tilting cups for comfort while in use
  • Folds into small package for storage in a backpack, tool box, or drawer
  • Padded headband keeps the user comfortable


  • Slightly heavy and bulky compared with other options on the market

Thirty-seven decibels of hearing protection is relatively unheard of for earmuffs, but Decibel Defense’s earmuffs provide it. These over-the-ear muffs feature thick foam pads and large cups filled with foam to provide that extra NRR rating without the user having to wear earplugs underneath.

These over-the-ear muffs’ cups slide and tilt on wire bands, making them completely adjustable for nearly anyone’s head size (including children). While these muffs are slightly heavy and bulky, the padded band makes them comfortable and offers a bit of airflow. They also fold and collapse on themselves to create a compact package that’s easy to store.

What our tester says: Mark Wolfe, Bob Vila staff writer and product tester, said this about these earmuffs in our tested buyer’s guide: “These earmuffs have thick foam padding for closing off the ear, as well as a comfortable headband with six individual pads for ample airflow. The telescoping arms allow for ideal adjustment as well.”

Get the Decibel Defense ear protection at Amazon or Decibel Defense.

Best Plugs

Vibes High Fidelity Ear Plugs and its packaging on a white background.

Product Specs 

  • NRR: 22 dB
  • Style: In ear
  • Connectivity: None


  • Blends in for discreet protection while mowing lawns, doing construction, and more
  • Reduce noise up to 22 dB while allowing for normal conversation
  • Comes with 3 sizes of reusable silicone plugs


  • A bit expensive compared with other in-ear options

Hearing protection that allows DIYers to reduce dangerous noise while still allowing them to carry on conversations is here. The Vibes High Fidelity earplugs use a special design to provide protection and convenience, and users can pop these silicone plugs in their ears and forget about them until the job is done. These plugs reduce noise up to 22 dB but allow the user to hear regular conversation clearly while they’re still inside the ear. This makes them one of the best noise-canceling earbuds for mowing lawns, as they’re more buds than plugs.

This kit comes with three different plug sizes, allowing users to find the most comfortable and effective fit. Also, the small, clear tubes blend in very well when they’re in the user’s ear, offering a discreet and comfortable method for protecting ears against noise from lawn mowers and other equipment. They’re not the least expensive earplug models, but they are reusable.

Get the Vibes ear protection at Amazon or Vibes.

Best with Radio

DeWalt Digital AM/FM Hearing Protector on a white background.

Product Specs 

  • NRR: 25 dB
  • Style: Over the ear
  • Connectivity: AM/FM and auxiliary jack


  • 25 dB of hearing protection to prevent hearing loss or injury
  • AM/FM receiver with auxiliary jack (and cord) for excellent communication on the jobsite
  • Thick foam pads for comfortably sealing around ears


  • Padded headband can get hot after long-term use

Those looking to plug in their mobile device or simply tune into a radio show while mowing the lawn will appreciate DeWalt’s Digital AM/FM hearing protector earmuffs. These over-the-head muffs provide up to 25 dB of NRR value to protect the user’s hearing from loud equipment like lawn mowers. These muffs also feature a digital AM/FM tuner with eight presets and an auxiliary jack for tethering to a mobile device (cord included), making them one of the best radio headphones for mowing.

These muffs feature a thick padded headband that adjusts for a universal fit. The thick foam pads seal off outside sounds while remaining comfortable. The only real drawback to these earmuffs is that the padded headband, despite being comfortable, may be a bit warm around the crown of the head.

Get the DeWalt ear protection at Amazon or The Home Depot.

Best with Bluetooth

3M WorkTunes Connect Wireless Hearing Protector on a white background.

Product Specs 

  • NRR: 24 dB
  • Style: Over the ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth


  • Bluetooth connectivity for entertainment while working; long battery life for added convenience
  • 24 dB of hearing protection to prevent hearing injury or loss
  • Comfortable foam pads and headband allow for long-term use


  • They may be a bit heavy; may not be ideal for some users’ preferences

Folks who take their tunes seriously while they’re working will want to check out this pair of WorkTunes earmuffs from 3M. These muffs feature Bluetooth connectivity, providing users with the option to link to any Bluetooth-enabled streaming device for convenience. They also have a long battery life, lasting considerably longer than a traditional workday on one charge, making these some of the best Bluetooth hearing protection for mowing on the market.

These muffs aren’t all about entertainment, though. They also provide up to 24 dB of noise reduction, making them suitable for use with most mowers. The thick foam padding seals noises out, while the hard shells house the battery, on-off switch, and speakers. The headband for these muffs is comfortable; however, they can be a little heavy compared with models that lack speakers and batteries.

Get the 3M WorkTunes ear protection at Amazon.

Also Consider

A green box of Hearos Xtreme Foam Ear Plugs on a white background.

Product Specs 

  • NRR: 33 dB
  • Style: In ear
  • Connectivity: None


  • 33 decibels of noise reduction provides excellent protection against hearing loss and injury
  • Made with a hypoallergenic foam material that will not irritate sensitive users
  • Impervious to dirt for added convenience and safety


  • Some folks may be uncomfortable placing plugs in their ears

Hearos Xtreme Protection Series foam earplugs may be worth considering for DIY lawn-care aficionados who prefer to keep their hearing intact. These foam, in-ear-style plugs provide a noise reduction rating of 33 dB, sealing dangerous decibel levels out while remaining comfortable in the ear.

This pack of earplugs comes with 56 pairs, providing the user with more than their money’s worth. Users simply roll them between their fingers to compress them, place them in their ears, and allow them to expand and seal off the ear canal. The coating on the plugs is impervious to dirt, providing a snug fit without the fear of introducing contaminants. They’re also hypoallergenic, though some people may still have qualms about placing plugs in their ears.

Get the Hearos ear protection at Amazon (56 pairs) or Hearos (100 pairs).

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing Ear Protection for Mowing

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the best hearing protection for lawn mowing. It’s important to find a set of muffs or plugs that are effective and comfortable, but there are also some extra creature comforts that might make a particular set a bit more attractive. Below are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing hearing protection for lawn mowing.

Noise Reduction Rating 

Manufacturers indicate how effective their products are by listing their noise reduction rate, or NRR. This describes the number of decibels a hearing protection product can lower the noise by before it hits the wearer’s ears. For instance, a pair of earmuffs with an NRR of 25 will lower 50 decibels (dB) to 25 decibels.

Different types of ear protection offer varying levels of NRR protection. For instance, earplugs almost always offer the most protection, providing around 33 dB. Meanwhile, over-the-ear muff-style hearing protection can offer around 31 dB. It’s possible to stack them and use both at the same time as well for 36 dB.

In general, decibel levels of 70 dB or less are considered safe. Since most lawn mowers produce around 90 dB, ideal ear protection for mowing will offer an NRR of 20 or more. The greater the NRR, the less noise will make it through the muffs or plugs, providing more protection.

In Ear vs. Over the Ear

There are two basic styles of hearing protection: in-ear protection and over-the-ear protection. Each has its pros and cons, so it’s important to be familiar with both before settling on one or the other.

In-ear hearing protection typically involves small cylindrical foam earplugs, or soft foam tips on the ends of a stiff plastic horseshoe-like band (these are actually “semi insert”). The foam enters the ear, expands, and blocks sound from making its way in.

Over-the-head protection includes muff-style protectors. These hearing protection devices have plastic cups with foam inside that compresses around the wearer’s ear. This compression seals off the ear, lowering the amount of noise that can penetrate the eardrum.

In-ear protection is typically the most comfortable as the foam is very light and there isn’t any pressure on the wearer’s head. However, some folks prefer to keep things out of their ears, and these plugs are only good for a couple of uses. Over-the-ear muffs can be heavy, hot, and create a bit of pressure on the sides of the wearer’s head, but they’re suitable for multiple wears and they don’t require sticking anything in the ear.

Comfort and Fit

Hearing protection devices need to be as comfortable as possible; the wearer isn’t going to want to throw them on when they’re mowing if they aren’t. For that reason, it’s important to find earplugs or muffs that are not only comfortable while they’re doing their job but also while they’re around the neck.

For folks who have sensitive ears or simply prefer not to place anything inside their ears, muff-style over-the-ear hearing protection is the best bet. These can be a bit heavy and cumbersome, but they can be particularly comfortable when worn around the neck. Look for products with breathable designs or materials for the headband to promote as much comfort as possible.

For those who don’t mind sticking a bit of foam in their ears, in-ear plugs are the most comfortable. These devices are soft, small, and lightweight and become just snug enough to keep noise out once they expand. Some even come with soft, flexible bands for wearing around the neck.

For those who’d prefer an in-between option, semi-insert plugs exist. These are lightweight, and the bands they’re attached to provide just enough pressure to keep the foam tips in the rim of the wearer’s ear without placing a foam plug inside.


What’s more zen than listening to a podcast or a favorite playlist while mowing the lawn? Rather than stuffing a pair of earbuds underneath some over-the-ear muffs, users can connect their hearing protection to their phones or the radio waves around them.

Many of the best hearing protection for mowing products feature Bluetooth connectivity. This allows users to mow the yard while listening to music or a talk show while also preventing their ears from experiencing damage.

For those who’d prefer something a bit more old-school, hearing protection with built-in AM/FM receivers allow the user to protect their ears while also tuning into a game broadcast or a countdown.

Keep in mind that these devices do require rechargeable or replaceable batteries.


That’s a lot of information about the best ear protection for mowing, and the options can feel overwhelming. The following section aims to answer any remaining questions, as it contains some of the most frequently asked questions about ear protection.

Q. Should I wear hearing protection when mowing?

Yes, you should. Safe noise levels are under 70 dB. Lawn mowers generally produce over 90 dB of noise. Prolonged exposure to this volume can cause permanent damage without hearing protection.

Q. Can lawn mowers cause hearing loss?

Yes, they can. Their decibel output is higher than the levels generally accepted as safe.

Q. What level of hearing protection do I need while mowing the lawn?

Look for hearing protection with a NRR of 20 or more to protect your hearing.

Q. Can I listen to music while mowing the lawn?

There are several earmuff style ear protection devices that include AM/FM radio, audio input jacks, and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing users to listen to music while mowing the lawn.

Why Trust Bob Vila 

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.[/product-card-8]