5 ways to reduce noise in your home

5 steps to a quieter home life
5 tips for a quieter home lifeRidofranz - Getty Images

With around 40% of adults working from home at least some of the week, it's become even more important to feel comfortable and happy in the place where you live. But between the neighbour's dog barking, your children watching TikTok's aloud and your partner taking a Zoom meeting in the next room, your home might not be the calm sanctuary that you want it to be.

According to the World Health Organisation 40% of the population in the EU are exposed to noise levels over 55 decibels which can disturb sleep, raise blood pressure and in extreme cases has even been attributed to an increased incidence of heart disease. In fact, noise pollution has been hailed as the second biggest environmental issue after air pollution.

You may find that unwanted noise is affecting your quality of life, but there's no need to suffer in (non-)silence. We've put together this guide to help you achieve a quieter home life so you can relax, work and sleep in a more peaceful environment.

1. Use your décor

Taking a look around your home may help you discover the route of the noisiness. Try to aim for a balance of hard and soft surfaces, and aim for a quarter of your room's décor to be good at absorbing noise. Think big thick rugs, lots of cushions, bookshelves — these all help with soundproofing without compromising the character of the room.

If you're bothered by noise outside the home like traffic or neighbours, heavy curtains are very effective. And if you just so happen to be replacing your doors, opt for solid rather than hollow ones.

5 steps to a quieter home life
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2. Opt for quieter appliances

Some of the biggest culprits when it comes to noise are household appliances – washing machines, dishwashers and all our electric gadgets and gizmos. Make quietness part of your buying criteria. They might not be the most powerful on the market, but manufacturers are starting to develop less noisy products. It’s also possible to switch some models of vacuum cleaner to quiet mode - see the manufacturer's instructions for how.

To stop your own washing machine vibrations adding to the noise, make sure the feet are level and nothing is touching the sides of the machine. Put a soft layer between the washing machine and floor/wall. Thick rubber matting or carpet tiles under the feet will help as a sound absorber.

Look for the Quiet Mark logo – a purple Q of approval – on a range of household appliances.

3. Invest in noise cancelling headphones

Noise cancelling headphones are a must-have as they are specifically designed to limit distracting sounds. While they won't produce total silence, a decent pair will help you concentrate on your music, audiobook, podcast or white noise without any audible distractions.

Our tech team voted the Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds II top after they successfully blocked out the screeching of the London Underground's Central Line. If you prefer over-ear headphones, the Bose Quiet Comfort 45 model may be the choice for you. You can read our guide to the best noise cancelling headphones here.

Remember that it's important to take care of your hearing when you use headphones as listening to music on full-blast can lead to permanent hearing loss over time. Apple products allow you to enable headphone notifications that remind you to lower the volume if you've exceeded the recommended limits. Go to Settings, Sound & Haptics, then Headphone Safety to turn you headphone notifications on.

5 steps to a quieter home life
10&apos000 Hours - Getty Images

4. Play white noise

It's not just for babies and toddlers! If you're having trouble sleeping, using white noise just before bed is a great routine to get into as it helps your mind settle and get into rest mode. It can also be helpful in your work life; if you want to block out external noise but find music to be too distracting, studies have shown that white noise can help you focus**.

You may not know that there's a whole spectrum of noise, each colour with slightly different properties that could help you in your day to day life. White noise includes sounds like a whirring fan or TV static, whereas pink noise includes ocean sounds, rustling leaves and steady rain. Both of these should help you sleep, whereas brown noise, which is at the lower end of the sound spectrum, is often used to help with concentration — examples include the sound of thunder or a strong waterfall.

You can play white noise (or pink and brown) on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. If you have an EchoDot appliance in your home, you can ask Alexa to play white noise. Android users can find the White Noise Generator while Apple devices can download the Bedtime Fan. Alternatively, try a white noise machine.

5. Tread softly

The vogue for hard floors has led to a real increase in noise levels (and it’s no fun if you live downstairs). With wooden floors, insulate between the joists. For laminate flooring, use a good-quality, foam-cushioned underlay. Obviously carpet, cord or even rubber would be a quieter choice. Put rubber or felt stops on chair and table feet, look for anti-scratch furniture leg buttons.

Dealing with noisy neighbours

If your neighbours are driving you up the wall with loud music, renovations or barking dogs, having a calm discussion with them should always be the first option. However, if that doesn't go well or the problem persists, you can make a noise complaint to your local council. To find out more, read our guide to dealing with nuisance neighbours here.

*King's College London

**British Psychological Society

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