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Best blackout curtains to buy in 2021

Jun 13, 2023Jun 13, 2023

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If you keep waking up feeling sluggish, consider making your bedroom darker. Science states that we sleep better when exposed to as little light as possible, leading to improved mental and physical health, which is why we made it our mission to find the best blackout curtains on the market:

The good ones do, yes, and they don’t have to be black. It’s the fabric and lining that stops all light in its tracks, not the colour. The best quality blackout curtains will help reduce external noise and regulate the temperature in your bedroom too, keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter.

In general, the thicker and more densely woven the fabric of your blackout curtains, the more effective they will be. Most are made from polyester, cotton, or a blend of the two, with an impenetrable acrylic-coated lining.

Measure for blackout curtains in the same way as you would for regular ones. To get the right width, measure the length of your pole and add a couple of inches to allow for overlap when drawn. Next, measure from a little way above your pole to where you want them to fall. This should mean that your window is fully covered, and no light can creep in.

Most curtains - blackout or otherwise - have pencil pleat or eyelet headings. Pencil pleats resemble a row of pencils and can be fitted onto a pole or track. Fit them floor to ceiling, or as close to the wall as you can, for the best light blocking results. Eyelets slip onto a pole and are more modern in style. They can offer more coverage along the top of your window, but make sure the eyelets themselves aren’t too big for your pole, or light will sneak through.

Most blackout curtains now come in a range of colours to suit all interiors tastes, including cream, duck egg blue and sage green. If their fabric and lining is high quality, they should be no less effective than their navy and black counterparts.

You don’t need to spend much to reap the benefits of blackout curtains, but, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for! Thicker pairs will cost more and give you better results.

Three of us hung the same ten pairs of blackout curtains on the same window in our homes. We judged them on how easy they were to hang, how well they blocked out daylight and noise, how well they retained warmth, and how premium they looked and felt. The below all passed our rigorous tests, so you can rest assured that your beauty sleep is in good hands.

If it’s a touch of luxe you’re after, these polyester pencil pleat blackout curtains scored top marks for their thick, premium feel. Excellent light blockers, they also came joint first for noise reduction.

They were free from that tell-tale plasticky smell, unlike most brands we tried, and the clear, simple instructions helped us hang them up in no time. They’re available in ten muted colours, from oyster to duck egg, and ten sizes. Just note that they’re dry clean only.

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

If you’re struggling to find the right colour to match your bedroom palette, browse Next’s wide range of 23 hues, including dusky pink and mustard. These cotton eyelet curtains were the co-winners for reducing noise and the best in show for warmth retention.

They’re brilliant light blockers too, but they did have a chemical whiff to them at first. The included leaflet with tips helped us hang them quickly and they can handle both the washing machine and tumble dryer.

Key specificationsMaterial: CottonHeading: EyeletSizes: 7Colours: 23Price per pair: £45 to £95

These eyelet blackout curtains exceeded our expectations for the price, blocking out daylight well despite their thin, lightweight feel. They suffered bad creasing during transit, but hung up easily and straightened themselves out within a few days on our poles.

They’re washing machine-friendly but line dry only. There’s normally a strong choice of six colours in three sizes, but they often fall in and out of stock, with only this pink available at the time of writing.

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

Dunelm’s impressive range of 20 colours in nine sizes is hard to beat, so if you’ve been struggling to find the right shade to match your bedroom walls, head here first.

We found them a tad tricky to hang, as there weren’t any instructions for gathering the pleat, but they looked lovely once up. They’re not all good looks, blocking out external noise as well as light during our tests, but they are dry clean only. Other brands felt more luxurious, too.

Key specificationsMaterial: PolyesterHeading: Pencil pleatSizes: 9Colours: 20Price per pair: £30 to £80

We found these eyelet blackout curtains the easiest to hang and appreciated the choice of neutral, muted and bright colours in eight sizes. They’re not the most luxurious but they successfully darkened our bedrooms and, overall, delivered excellent value for money. You can pop them into the washing machine on a low temperature, too. Our only niggle was that they creased a lot en route.

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

The George Home range at Asda often offers fantastic value for money, and these blackout curtains are no exception. Their thickness and quality impressed us for the price and we loved their unique hidden tab top design, which offers a more elegant take on an eyelet heading.

They successfully darkened our bedrooms and it’s handy that they’re machine washable. The nine-colour range features natural, pink and green, but there are just four sizes, with the biggest only available in grey. The generous 100-day satisfaction guarantee makes this bargain worth a try.

Key specificationsMaterial: PolyesterHeading: Hidden tab topSizes: 4Colours: 9Price per pair: £30 to £60

These eyelet blackout curtains were the only pair we tried that came with a one-year guarantee for peace of mind. The poly/cotton fabric blocked out light a treat, despite not being very thick. They fared the worst in terms of creasing but were a breeze to hang, and we felt they had been reasonably priced for their quality and effectiveness. There’s a decent colour range, too, including cream, teal and berry.

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

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