You’re in a room in your house, and you start hearing the same sounds repeatedly – footsteps from the room above, the neighbor’s dog barking, or your pipes clanging away. You want a cheap way to soundproof against these noises, and you instantly think of a couple of old towels that you have, but are towels good for soundproofing?
Towels are not good for soundproofing because they only provide temporary relief, and can’t do as good of a job as other permanent installations that require a contractor’s input. However, they can be used as a do-it-yourself draft stopper for doors.
Let’s first look at how sound travels and how towels are used as home remedies to insulate against it.
How Does Sound Work?
Sound travels in waves and can only do so through a medium. They can be measured in Hertz. Human beings can only detect sounds that are within the 20 to 20,000 Hz range. However, humans have different sensitivities to sound, and noise can be a huge nuisance to some.
The flip side to this is that sound can also be pleasant, and sometimes we want sounds around us. An example of this is music because they can entertain and inspire.
Most of the time, sounds reach our ears through the air. For example, when two people have a conversation in the same room, the sounds they produce, travel through the air to reach each other’s ears.
Sound can also travel through a medium, such as a wall. This is why construction work in your house can be heard in a room at the opposite end. Sound waves travel through the walls to reach the listener’s ears.
In homes, sound can also travel through ductworks and pipes. These kinds of sounds are difficult to insulate against if you do it if you purely do it yourself. Proper soundproofing against these kinds of sounds requires a long-term installation of durable soundproofing materials.
The sounds that most often annoy us in our homes are the ones that are spontaneously caused by nature and humans, such as, a neighbor singing or playing music loudly, or someone watching television in another room with the volume up.
When these spontaneous noises occur, it can be tempting to look for something in your home that can provide some soundproofing and restore your peace of mind. Do towels work in doing this?
How Do Towels Soundproof?
Towels can be used for limited soundproofing. They do not do as good a job as more permanent soundproofing installations. Towels provide limited soundproofing by absorbing soundwaves, blocking their pathway, and acting as a barrier against further sound travel.
An example of a material that can achieve the opposite function is wood, which is known to be a good conductor of sound. When sound meets wood, it travels through it to reach its destination. In contrast, when sound encounters a soundproofing material(check out my favorites), its pathway is cut short, and cannot travel any further.
This is also how towels work as a soundproofing material. They are made of tightly-woven strains of fibers that act as a natural barrier against sound. When sound encounters a towel, it is absorbed by its fabric, preventing the sound from traveling any further. However, because towels do not provide an airtight seal, their soundproofing effects are limited at best.
Using the Right Towel
Towels come in many shapes and sizes. For example, we have tea towels, hand towels, bathing towels, and so on. Towels also come in all kinds of materials, such as regular cotton, Turkish cotton, and Egyptian cotton. The quality of towels can differ greatly.
When it comes to picking a towel for soundproofing, it is best not to pick one that is too small. For example, a hand towel would not be ideal for soundproofing since it has a small surface area. A bathing towel or a beach towel would be a better option.
The next thing you would want to look for in a towel that can soundproof well is its thickness. Some towels are manufactured very thinly for functionality purposes. However, some have a good thickness that is best for absorbing water. As a general rule of thumb, the better a towel is in absorbing water, the better it will be in absorbing sound.
The last thing you might want to consider is if the towels are new or old. If they are new, use them for their main purpose, which is drying. However, if you have a stack of old towels lying around, you may have found a good use for them, since you could use them for soundproofing.
How Towels Are Used for Soundproofing
Using towels for soundproofing is a do-it-yourself project. There are no hard and fast rules about how to use them properly. As mentioned earlier, they can provide soundproofing benefits because they consist of tightly-woven fabric pieces, providing natural insulation against sound.
A thicker texture means greater sound insulation. Piling your towels together and combining them gives better results for soundproofing. You can achieve this by stacking the towels or by hot-gluing them together.
The next thing to do is to consider which part of the room you want to soundproof. If the noise is coming through your windows, you can use your towels as a curtain. Use them to cover the extent of your windows.
If you have noise coming through a door, you can hang your towels over your on either side to improve sound insulation. Alternatively, you can use your towels as a doorstop. Fit them at the gap between the bottom of your door and the floor.
Because using towels for soundproofing is a do-it-yourself project, its efficacy is limited and varied. However, if you need a quick fix to loud noises, towels can be used as a temporary soundproofing measure.
More Effective Soundproofing Methods
Towels offer some soundproofing benefits, but they are limited. This is because they are not designed for soundproofing and will only work because of their tightly-woven texture. However, there are other materials specifically designed for soundproofing.
- Acoustic foam panels. These are panels that you can install on your floor or wall. They can also blend in with the decor of your room. Check out this article.
- Soundproof curtains. These are also a cheap way to soundproof a room. Instead of hanging your towels on the windows, purchase soundproof curtains (my top recommendations). They will be more effective in noise insulation and will make your room look more presentable as well.
If noise becomes a constant source of annoyance for you, it may be best to look for permanent solutions. For this, an experienced contractor might offer good advice on the best kind of insulation materials for your house and budget.
- Spray foam. Spray foam is a great material for noise insulation. Your contractor simply sprays it into a cavity and it will grow, fill up the spaces, and harden. They provide soundproofing because of their sponge-like texture.
- Glass. Glass is also often used for noise insulation. When it comes to installing glass on your windows or sliding doors, there are two types available:
- Single-glazed glass – single glass panel
- Double-glazed glass – two single glass panels and would offer better noise insulation
There are many ways to soundproof a room, and towels are a cheap and temporary solution. They can be stacked to create a greater sound barrier and can be used as curtain windows or door stoppers. However, their soundproofing is not as efficient.
Other permanent soundproofing solutions can better insulate your room from sound. However, they are more expensive and typically require the service of a contractor.
Thanks for reading! For more info on using towels for soundproofing, check out this article from Soundproof Guide.