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Blackout curtains are used to shield bedrooms from outside light, which can interfere with the circadian cycle and negatively affect sleep quality. They are an essential component for people who need to sleep during daylight hours, including shift workers and small children, as well as people with disorders like insomnia that affect sleep onset and/or maintenance. In addition to blocking light, blackout curtains improve temperature insulation by keeping bedrooms cool during the hot months and warm when it’s cold outside. They may dampen outside noise to create a quieter sleep environment, as well.
This guide will explore the functions of blackout curtains and their benefits for sleepers, as well as buying tips for first-time buyers and our picks for the best blackout curtains based on owner experiences.
Let’s begin by discussing the key differences between curtains, drapes, shades, and blinds.
For the purposes of this guide, the catch-all term ‘blackout curtains’ refers to any curtains, drapes, shades, or blinds that are designed to block outside light, reduce noise, and improve insulation. ‘Blackout’ is a specific manufacturing process, during which foam layers are applied to raw fabric — usually polyester or microfiber — in order to increase the density and opacity of the material. The foam layers are known as ‘passes,’ and most blackout curtains sold today fall into one of the following two categories:
Blackout liners are sold separately and also widely available. They have two sides: a lighter fabric side and a darker, sleeker side. Additionally, some ‘three-pass’ liners have a middle layer of foam or fabric. Some liners are sold by the foot or yard and cut to order. Others are sold in large sections, and require owners to cut the material to length themselves. Most can be installed on existing curtains using drapery hooks or grommets, and they may be hemmed to the curtain as well. In addition to blackout liners, blackout window covers are installed over the window opening using clips or hook-and-loop fasteners.
Blackout curtains are useful for sleep because our natural sleep cycle depends on exposure to natural light. Our internal alarm clock — known as the circadian rhythm — is programmed to make us feel tired at night when the sun goes down, and to wake up in the morning after the sun reappears. People tend to have healthy circadian rhythms in ideal sleep settings, but many have jobs or commitments that require them to be awake when they should be asleep and vice versa. These individuals include:
The most effective blackout curtains can block up to 99% of outside light. Blackout curtains also provide the following uses when installed properly:
Most blackout curtains sold today are machine washable. However, depending on their material composition, some may require hand washing, spot cleaning, or professional cleaning.
When shopping for new blackout curtains and comparing different brands and models, here are a few important factors to take into account:
Next, let’s look at the top-rated blackout curtains and liners according to the people who use them. The first table lists our six picks for the best blackout curtains. All ratings are based on verified customer and owner experiences. To learn more about purchasing these products, please click the links in the second-to-last row of the table.
|Brand||Best Home Fashion||Deconovo||H. Versailtex||Ikea||NICETOWN||Utopia Bedding|
|Model||Antique Grommet Blackout Curtains||Grommet Top Blackout Curtains||Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtains||Marjun||Blackout Curtains||Thermal Blackout Curtains|
|Cost (est.)||$30 to $46 (2 panels)||$25 to $36 (2 panels)||$25 to $40 (2 panels)||$50 (2 panels)||$22 to $26 (2 panels)||$19 to $25 (2 panels)|
54L” to 96L”
|42W” to 52W”|
63L” to 95L”
63L” to 96L”
|57W” x 98L”||42W”|
63L” or 84L”
63L” or 84L”
|Rod Components||8 grommets per panel||6 grommets per panel||8 grommets per panel||Rod pockets||6 grommets per panel||Rod pockets|
|Cleaning||Machine wash||Hand wash||Hand wash||Machine wash||Machine wash||Machine wash|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||93% (3,842 customer reviews)||91% (549 customer reviews)||89% (872 customer reviews)||89% (146 customer reviews)||92% (3,952 customer reviews)||93% (3,185 customer reviews)|
The next table features our top five picks for the best blackout liners and window covers according to customer and owner experiences. Please note that liners or window covers may not be necessary for curtains with built-in liners.
|Brand||Blackout EZ||Eclipse Curtains||Roc-lon||Rose Home Fashion||Thermalogic|
|Model||Window Cover||Thermaliner Blackout Panel||Blackout Drapery Lining Ivory Fabric||Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtain Liner||Ultimate Liner|
|Cost (est.)||$37 to $51||$20 to $25 (2 panels)||$5 (per yard)|
Cut to length
|$16 to $30 (2 panels)||$15 to $21|
|Dimensions||Small (36W” x 48L”)|
Large (45W” x 66L”)
|27W” per panel (54W” total)|
60L” to 92L”
36L” (1 yd.)
72L” (2 yd.)
108L” (3 yd.)
|27W” to 47W”|
60L” to 80L”
56L” to 88L”
|Installation Method||Hook-and-loop fastening||Drapery hooks||Sew-on||Drapery hooks||Grommets|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||92% (475 customer reviews)||85% (1,292 customer reviews)||90% (121 customer reviews)||90% (208 customer reviews)||91% (494 customer reviews)|
In addition to store-bought blackout curtains, many modify their existing curtains to block outside light using this simple DIY process:
If successful, the blackout lining should adhere to the curtains and block outside light. You can also follow the same process if you plan to make new curtains as well. Simply hem both sides and the bottom of the curtain panel, and then fold over the top by one inch or less (however much room is needed to use the rod). Slide the lining beneath the top fold and pin in place, and then you will be able to sew the lining inside the curtain.
Blackout window panels are an alternative to curtain linings that do not require any sewing or ironing. Blackout window panels attach to the edges of the interior window frame using clips, hook-and-loop closures, or other fasteners; adhesives can rip paint off the wall. Make sure the panel is flush with the window; otherwise outside light may enter the room.
For more information about methods of reducing light and noise in your bedroom and maintaining a comfortable temperature, please visit the following Tuck pages:
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