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Best Blackout Curtains 2021

Jun 05, 2023Jun 05, 2023

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Want a good night's sleep? Try investing in a set of these...

Whether you work night shifts and need to sleep during the day, are kept awake by a glaring streetlight, or simply want the darkest room possible to kip in, a good pair of blackout curtains is a must-buy.

From John Lewis to Argos, we've tested a variety of blackout curtains from the biggest home retailers. Here are the ones that impressed us the most:

Firstly, don’t panic, they don’t have to be black! Good cream blackout curtains can work just as well as navy ones. It’s the impenetrable lining that stops light in its tracks, not the colour of the fabric, and it can be extremely effective.

What’s more, some blackout curtains are also thermal, keeping your bedroom warm in winter and cool in summer, and block external noise such as traffic.

Material and lining

Look for heavy-duty fabric with densely woven fibres that won't let light slip through, such as thick cotton or polyester. For extra blackout, insulation and noise-blocking oomph, choose curtains with multiple layers. Linings are usually made from a poly/cotton mix that's coated in acrylic.


The heading determines how your curtains are hung. Most curtains have either pencil pleat or eyelet headings. Traditional pencil pleats look like lots of pencils in a row and can be fitted onto a pole or track. For the best blackout results, fit them floor to ceiling, or as close to the wall as possible.

Eyelets look more modern and slip onto a pole. They often offer more coverage at the top of your window than pencil pleats, but light will sneak through the holes if they're too big for your pole.


Blackout curtains are hung like regular curtains. For the best fit length-wise, measure from a few inches above your curtain pole to where you want them to finish. In terms of width, make sure that they will fully cover the window when drawn, with extra fabric around the edges to keep all light at bay. Measure the width of your curtain pole, not your window, then add a good few centimetres to allow for overlap.


Dark colours have long dominated blackout curtain ranges, but most brands now offer brighter and lighter colours too. The colour of your curtains shouldn't affect their blackout ability, but if you're set on cream, check that the lining is fully impenetrable before you buy.


You don't need to spend a fortune to find blackout curtains that will make a big difference. However, you tend to get what you pay for, meaning cheaper, thinner curtains won't do the job as well as thicker, mid-range options. You'll need to pay more for thermal curtains that regulate temperature, too.

Our three testers tried the same 10 pairs of blackout curtains on a designated window in their home. Each set was judged on its ability to block out daylight, streetlights and noise, with our panel awarding scores for warmth retention, thickness, feel, scent, appearance, ease of hanging and overall quality.

These thick blackout curtains scored full marks for their luxurious, weighty feel. They don’t smell plasticky either, as some cheaper options tend to, and there’s a decent range of sizes and colours to choose from. You’ll find clear instructions on how to adjust the heading tape in the box, but they are dry clean only. They blocked out light a treat though, and came joint top for noise reduction, making them a savvy choice if your bedroom backs on to a road.

Key specsMaterial: PolyesterHeading: Pencil pleatSizes: 10Colours: 10Price per pair: £45 to £145

Matching your curtains to your walls can be tricky, as colours chosen online often look different in real life. Helpfully, M&S lets you order free fabric samples before you take the plunge. Our testers praised this blackout pair for its thick, premium feel and thoughtful packaging that limits creasing, but note that they’re dry clean only.

Key specsMaterial: Cotton and polyesterHeading: Pencil pleatSizes: 9Colours: 2Price per pair: £39.50 to £99

If you’re struggling with a cold room at night, try these thermal blackout curtains. They were our highest scorer for warmth retention during testing and were our co-winner for noise reduction. We found them easy to hang and there's a leaflet containing handy tips, too. There’s a generous choice of sizes and colours to suit all palettes and they’re machine-washable, which is helpful as they smell slightly rubbery on arrival.

Key specsMaterial: CottonHeading: EyeletSizes: 10Colours: 2oPrice per pair: £45 to £95

In need of a quick fix? These bargain blackout curtains do their main job of blocking out daylight well. Though a little too thin and lightweight for some of our testers, hanging them up is a breeze and good old gravity straightened out their creases after a few days. They’re machine-washable and line dry only, with a limited number of sizes and colours available.

Key specsMaterial: PolyesterHeading: EyeletSizes: 3Colours: 6Price per pair: £30 to £50

Dunelm wins the choice game, with a mighty 20 colours and 14 sizes to browse. They don't feel overly luxurious compared to our winners though, and they're dry clean only. We would have liked some instructions on how to gather the pleat, too. Niggles aside, they blocked out light extremely well and scored highly for blocking out noise, making them a smart practical pick.

Key specsMaterial: PolyesterHeading: Pencil pleatSizes: 14Colours: 20Price per pair: £30 to £110

If you’re trying to stick to a budget, these blackout curtains offer great value for money and come with a 100-day satisfaction guarantee. The hidden tab top design offers an attractive, modern alternative to pencil pleat or eyelet and they're satisfyingly thick for the price. They can be machine-washed, but not tumble-dried or ironed, and there are limited sizes available. We love this stylish ochre hue.

Key specsMaterial: PolyesterHeading: Hidden tab topSizes: 4Colours: 8Price per pair: £30 to £60

Our panel liked the range of colours that these eyelet blackout curtains come in, from ivory and duck egg blue to playful hot pink. They blocked out the light well and they're thermal, but don’t expect deluxe quality for this price. They emerged fairly creased from their packaging but were a doddle to hang. They’re machine-washable and offer fantastic value for money.

Key specsMaterial: PolyesterHeading: EyeletSizes: 8Colours: 8Price per pair: £24.99 to £59.99

These are the only curtains we tried that come with a full year’s guarantee, which feels generous given the already reasonable price tag. They blocked out light very effectively and were simple to hang, but they fared the worst for creasing when we took them out of their packaging. The creases failed to fall out once hung too, so you'll need to iron them first. The machine-washable fabric is a little on the thin side, but they’ll fit the bill if you only really care about their blackout ability.

Key specsMaterial: Cotton and polyesterHeading: EyeletSizes: 5Colours: 10Price per pair: £20 to £50

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