Sleep is a critical aspect of mental and physical health. If early-morning sunlight (or late-night street lights) are preventing you from getting a good night’s rest, it’s time to do something about it. One simple fix for light in your bedroom is to put up blackout curtains. As with everything sold online, not all curtains are created equally.
We tested a dozen popular brands to find the best curtains you can buy right now. After evaluating each curtain based on its light-blocking abilities as well as its aesthetic characteristics, we determined that the very best blackout curtains are the Quinn 100% Blackout Window Curtain Collection(available at Bed Bath & Beyond). The Quinn curtains block light fully and will look cute in your home.
Here are the best blackout curtains we tested ranked, in order:
Bed Bath and Beyond’s Quinn blackout curtain took no prisoners in snagging the top place. There was simply no question about the winner: The Quinn curtain was the only one that looked nice and fully blocked light in both tests. Although the curtain is made of rayon and polyester, the gray, woven exterior of the curtains made it appear similar to more expensive curtains made of linen. Our aesthetic experts said the curtain would make a home look comfortable and stylish. The interior polyester lining of the Quinn curtain did a good job ensuring not a ray of light got through even under the direct beam of a floodlight. The curtain costs anywhere from about $40 to $75 depending on what size you need. This is a standard price tag. Other curtains we tested cost anywhere from under $10 to several hundred dollars.
Amazon Basics Room Darkening Blackout Curtains with Grommets
If you’re looking for total darkness, AmazonBasics has your back. Nothing got through the Amazon curtains in either light test. But Amazon just couldn’t compete in the looks category. The polyester curtains had the appearance and feel of a raincoat. AmazonBasics’ curtains will get the job done, but they won’t dress up your bedroom. They are cheap though — $25.57 at list price for two panels.
Each brand of blackout curtain was subjected to scrutiny based first and foremost on its ability to block light, but also on its appearance and fabric quality. We considered factors like color and size range, but these were deemed less important than functionality and appearance.
I’m Sara, Reviewed’s sleep writer. I care a lot about light in my bedroom so I’m excited to help you make yours as dark as possible. In addition to testing blackout curtains, I’ve reviewed the best sleep masks—I told you I cared—as well as pillows and weighted blankets.
We began by testing every curtain with a Spectra Professional IV type A light meter. The curtains were hung one by one in a doorway in our lab. Jon Chan, our lab manager, shone flood lights on the curtain from one side while I measured the light that got through the curtain. This gave us objective numbers on light penetration. I then covered my face with each curtain while flood lights shone on me. I made notes of how much light (none, a little, or a lot) got through the curtains.
My sleep team colleagues Tracee Herbaugh and Chris Panella were brought into the lab to give their opinions on the curtains’ looks and fabric quality. This was to prevent bias from people who already knew how the curtains performed in terms of light blocking. Plus, they both have a passion for interior design that I lack. Curtains were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 for how fashionable and sturdy they were.
What You Should Know About Buying Blackout Curtains
Blackout curtains are super useful for sleep if you’re at all sensitive to light. They keep your room dark while being less personally intrusive than eye masks. Blackout curtains can also be used in your living room to create dark conditions for movie nights, or to keep rooms dark if you want to avoid direct light on paintings or furniture.
Before you purchase curtains, make sure you measure your windows and select the right curtain size. You should also have a plan for how the curtains will be hung and whether you need to buy the rods and hardware.
If you’re using blackout curtains in your bedroom, consider opening them or taking a quick walk outside after your alarm goes off. Sleep experts recommend getting some sunlight in your system when you wake up because it starts your internal clock for the day and helps your body prepare you to get sleepy at night. This means sleeping with blackout curtains is great, but sitting in a room with them all day could be bad for your sleep.
Other Blackout Curtains We Tested
Sun Zero Oslo Theater Grade Extreme 100% Blackout Curtain Panel
It’s easy to find Sun Zero curtains online. Not only are they sold through Amazon and Macy’s, they also arrive when you order Wayfair Basics’ curtains. We tested the Sun Zero offerings from all three retailers and could not find a difference. All the Sun Zero curtains are made of shiny polyester material that looks like it wants to be silk. The Sun Zero curtains were deemed more attractive than the AmazonBasics curtains, but they do a slightly worse job blocking light. They would make an okay option if you deeply hate BBB and don’t want their curtains on principle.
Pottery Barn’s Emery Linen Blackout Curtain was a real heartbreaker. It’s among the few curtains we tested made from natural fibers, a personal preference of mine. It’s also beautiful. We received the curtain in a soft gray color that we could picture rustling gently in the window of a peaceful beach house. Unfortunately, it didn’t do a great job blocking light. In both our visual and metered tests, the curtain let in significantly more light than our winner. Plus, this curtain is among the few that isn’t machine-washable. If total darkness is a secondary issue and what you really want are beautiful, high-quality curtains, you can spring for Pottery Barn. But if you want actual blackout curtains, or want lower maintenance curtains, we advise going for BBB’s Quinn.
Eclipse Dayton Blackout Grommet Single Curtain Panel
The Eclipse Dayton Solid Color Blackout Grommet Single Curtain Panel, which arrived with an Ellery Lifestyle tag, did a good job blocking light. But it was deemed not aesthetically pleasing by our style experts, who said the shiny polyester curtain looked like it belonged in a high school theater. It also only comes in two sizes while most curtains we tested come in at least three.
Crate and Barrel’s Silvana Ivory Silk Blackout Curtain Panel is made of silk and linen (although they have a polyester liner), which might explain why it wrinkled more easily than other curtains we tested. Be prepared to steam or iron them if you buy them. It also did poorly in both our light blocking tests.
West Elm’s Linen Cotton Curtains (with a polyester lining) are stylish, coming in a bright white that looks clean and fresh. But they’re inconvenient. They didn’t block much light, they only come in one size, and they aren’t machine-washable. On the plus side, they’re Fair Trade certified, which means they have met certain environmental and social standards.
The Threshold Aruba Linen Blackout curtain received the lowest score in our ranking because it did the worst job blocking light in our light meter test. It was also rated so-so in terms of aesthetics. It’s slightly rougher-looking than other linen weave curtains we tried.
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