Should You Wear Earplugs When Mowing?

Most people wear eye protection while mowing, but protecting the ears often goes unnoticed. Lawn mowers are pretty noisy, but are they noisy enough to be dangerous? Should you wear earplugs when mowing?

You should wear earplugs while mowing, even if you rarely mow your lawn. Protecting your ears is a must unless you’re using the manual push reel mower. Extended exposure to the noise of mowers could result in a steady decline in hearing over time.

It’s essential to understand the safe limit that our ears can handle without getting damaged, and with that being said, here’s everything you need to know about wearing earplugs when mowing.

Why Should You Wear Earplugs When Mowing?

Most lawnmowers risk damaging your hearing because of the loud noise they produce. The only exception is a manual reel mower. That’s because it’s not as noisy as other types of mowers. 

The human ear can safely hear up to 70 decibels of sound. We can still hear above that, but it’s no longer safe for us to hear such noise for extended periods.

Manual push reel mowers produce a sound that averages between 40 – 50 decibels. If you’re wondering how loud that is, that’s as loud as rain droplets hitting the asphalt.

There’s this misconception that electric mowers are quieter than gas-powered ones. Indeed, electric mowers aren’t as loud as gas-powered ones. However, the blades generate a noise that’s unsafe for our ears over long periods. This applies to both electric and gas-powered mowers.

Electric push mowing machines produce 80 decibels of sound, while electric riding ones sit around 85 decibels. 

Gas-powered mowers are even louder. The push mowers produce 85 decibels, and the riding ones produce 90 decibels.

Hearing loss starts to occur once you’re exposed to noise above 75 decibels for extended periods. The higher you go, the faster the hearing loss will happen.

If your mower is old and uncared for, it will be even louder than average.

Based on this information, it becomes mandatory to use ear protection if your mower has a motor in it. Your hearing will get weaker if you don’t.

What Happens iI You Don’t Protect Yourself From the Noise?

The main problem with hearing loss is that you never feel it until it’s too late. Let’s say, for example, that you’re constantly exposed to noises above 85 decibels daily. The hearing loss will start within a few weeks, but your grasp on it may take years to happen.

This is because our minds are oblivious to small and steady changes. As a result, hearing loss occurs in small unnoticeable increments.

You won’t wake up suddenly realizing that your hearing is damaged. It’s a process that happens over time. However, as time goes by, you’ll start to notice some disturbing signs:

  • You’ll find yourself constantly asking people to repeat themselves.
  • You’ll have difficulty watching TV without setting the volume too loud.
  • The conversations of reasonably close people will sound like mumbling.
  • You’ll find it difficult to hear high-pitched noises.

If you notice one or more of these signs, then you have a degree of hearing loss. In most cases, it’s not something to be alarmed about, but it’s doubtful that it can come back.

If you ignore these signs, you might start experiencing more severe signs like ringing ears. This is when you should seek immediate treatment.

However, if you’ve caught the problem while it’s small, then you could start protecting your ears from now on.

Remember that when we say protecting your ears, we mean using earplugs correctly.

Common Misconceptions About Noise Protection

Many people have wrong ideas about protecting their ears from mower noises. So we’ve gathered some for you here.

#1 Earplugs Could Harm Your Ear Drum

Earplugs are designed in a way to give the maximum possible protection to the eardrums. As a result, they’re usually very spongy and soft.

You should be safe unless you intentionally push them down your entire ear canal. Earplugs should just be fitting enough in your ear to block out the noise around you.

However, keep in mind that a lot of the cutting debris might lodge on your earplugs and your ears. Therefore, cleaning your ears with soap and water after you finish your mowing is important.

#2 Using Cotton as Earplugs

You could fit cotton balls in your ears, and they will do a good job of preventing any debris from going inside. 

However, regarding noise protection it’s almost non-existent. This is because cotton has a very low density. That means the number of cotton particles in that cotton ball isn’t enough to block the sound.

Cotton gives you the illusion of blocking out the sound by slightly muffling the incoming noise, but that’s not enough for those 85 decibels.

#3 Noise-Canceling Earphones

This is a massive misconception. Noise-canceling earphones or headphones don’t work as most people think they do.

The idea behind these devices is that they give you precise, crisp, and rich sound that prevents you from hearing anything coming from outside. 

However, this doesn’t prevent the outside noise from going in. Try putting on your noise-canceling earphones without playing any music. You’ll hear everything around you.

That said, these devices will even add to the damage hearing you are already getting from the loud mower, so be careful. 

#4 Adjusting the Mower

Trying to tinker with your mower to lower the noise could be a tempting idea at first, but it will not get you anywhere.

Tampering with the engine isn’t only risky but also useless. Most of the noise comes from the cutting blades, and there’s nothing you can do about those.

#5 Noise Protection Is for Landscapers

Landscapers who mow for a living work for long hours every week are aware of the noise hazard of that occupation. That’s why they take it seriously and use noise protection to keep their ears safe.

Many people are under the impression that they don’t mow that much, and thus, noise protection isn’t that important. 

Loud noises could start damaging your hearing with just 30 minutes of exposure. Everyone who mows the lawn knows that the procedure takes longer than that.


Wearing earplugs while mowing is a must. But, of course, you should always wear them while doing anything too noisy.

Manual push reel mowers are always the safest to use. If you have a reasonably small lawn, you could opt for them without problems.

However, there’s no denying that motorized mowers are faster and more efficient, but the noise problem isn’t avoidable.

We recommend keeping your family inside to reduce their noise exposure. As for you, it’s mandatory to use earplugs to protect your ears from both nose and dirt.

Don’t let the misconceptions and the wrong ideas fool you. Earplugs are safe as long as you clean your ears after using them. 

They might be uncomfortable to use, but it’s better than losing your hearing without even realizing it.

Stay safe; protect your ears.

Related Articles