How can I effectively black out my room for sleeping, cheaply and such that I can still open the curtains during the day?



I have trouble sleeping.

I'd like to make my room as dark as possible and the apartment I live in has streetlights right outside.

I rent, so buying expensive curtains doesn't really seem viable.

Is there a good, cheap way of making black out curtains, or similar, so that I can darken my room as much as possible?

I would also like to be able to open the 'curtains'/windows during the day, to let fresh air and natural light in.


Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 481

@dwjohnston, So have the wearable blindfolds make you sleep better? – Pacerier – 2015-06-03T20:46:01.793

If you insist that you "can still open the curtains during the day" as stated in your title, I'd advise you to include this in the body of the question, seeing as the most popular answer right now doesn't follow that rule. – BCdotWEB – 2015-03-07T19:26:49.050

@BCdotWEB Good point, thanks. – dwjohnston – 2015-03-07T21:24:05.023


Hmm don't know why I can't post an answer since I have above 10 rep. Anyways, I was in a very similar situation as you were and found a much better solution. By a blind fold. It works much better. It's a hastel to put up new curtains and find the right type, and as you said if your renting it's not a good investment. Blind folds (or rather sleeping masks) work great and I was surprised how comfortable they are to wear. Here's one for $11

– Celeritas – 2015-03-26T08:19:17.870

@Celeritas - That's odd. Take it to meta. You should be able to post answers at 1 rep. – dwjohnston – 2015-03-26T21:14:56.493



An also very easy, cheap and quick solution could be using aluminium foil.

Just stick it in front of your windows and your room should be blacked out perfectly!


Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 416

3This is what many do in Alaska during the extended daylight of our Summers. – CRSouser – 2015-03-06T11:48:10.077

2This was my first thought along with moving blankets. I worked night shift previously and have done both. Aluminum foil is 100% effective if you overlap nearly. – BrownRedHawk – 2015-03-06T18:08:29.683

Aluminum foil is the darkest solution, but only if you can attach it permanently. It rips easily. If you need to remove it to let light enter during the day, tape it to custom fit cardboard (like pizza boxes, see my own answer). – steven – 2015-03-07T10:02:41.123

6Please note that the title clearly says "such that I can still open the curtains during the day" (which admittedly isn't in the body of the question, but still). – BCdotWEB – 2015-03-07T19:25:25.757

Be careful about this if your window gets a lot of direct sunlight during the day. Having tried this (which works great), after a while of constant sunlight during the summer, the side of the foil affixed to the window will have burn marks and will start peeling; and if there is a slight gap it might be a fire hazard. – Burhan Khalid – 2015-03-08T05:28:40.403

@BCdotWEB How hard would it be to take down the foil? – Scimonster – 2015-03-08T19:10:45.173

3Make sure you are on the right side of the law. A friend of mine had the police show up to search his house doing this. They thought it was a grow-op. – marsh – 2015-03-09T14:51:09.517


I'd invert the problem and ask if you'd be comfortable wearing a sleep mask such as the ones airlines give you. I'm guessing even premium versions of these are less expensive than any blackout shades or curtains you'd find.

Obviously I know nothing about your specific sleep sensitivity, but I've found I sleep like a baby in an earthquake when I wear ear plugs.


Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 393

I have not found a good sleep mask that does not let light in at the periphery. I've bought the most expensive ones, to no avail. Any ideas? – Will Ediger – 2015-09-25T01:31:40.350

Nice answer; solve the problem in a way the OP didn't anticipate. +1 from me! :) – Shokhet – 2015-03-06T18:14:51.643

Even a folded T-shirt over the eyes makes a big difference. IME stays in place longer than you'd expect, too. – peterG – 2015-03-08T18:16:12.623

As a very light sensitive person, I can say that this is the best solution. It might annoy you at first, but you'll get used to it. Some are made well enough that they mold around your nose and don't touch your eyelids. Further, this option is very portable (I happen to travel a lot and roommates can be rude with their lamps). You can get them at Walgreens or Riteaid or $10. – fredsbend – 2015-03-09T06:51:57.797

I also happen to be sound sensitive. I used to wear ear plugs, but they were screwing up my ears, making be build up wax and stuff. Even got a mild infection. Ear plugs are okay for short term use, but I don't think they are healthy for your ears for extended use. – fredsbend – 2015-03-09T06:54:26.640


Roller shades, the ones that are thick. Some shades outer sides are reflective even. I have one of those. When it is down, no light gets in. The sun can even shine directly at it and nothing.

Make sure you pick the one, that doesn't let light come through.

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Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 738

-1 this kind of solution was specifically mentioned in the question as not viable formy living situation. – dwjohnston – 2015-05-27T23:06:05.347

2Get some kind of rail next to the window for the roller shade to be contained in. The rail will block all light normally emitted from the sides. – Mast – 2015-03-06T08:55:51.770

I wouldn't say the sides are worry some, You can also add curtains if you want, so it will look nicer. Some of the shades can have a really cool art on them tho. – s3v3ns – 2015-03-06T09:45:08.353

2They aren't, but if a completely dark room is appreciated the sides should be covered for the best effect. I got side rails myself and they do make a difference (especially during the early afternoon). – Mast – 2015-03-06T10:29:04.073

I don't know where OP lives, but in most parts of Europe, these kind of roller shades/shutter are very common. They block out all light from the outside and allow you to limit the amount of incoming light by opening them only partially: , & NOTE: this is attached to the outside of the house and controlled from inside

– BlueCacti – 2015-03-06T10:47:20.967

Overlooked the part where he said he's renting the place. This kind of works might not be allowed by the owner as it requires opening a hole above the window for the shutter box to be placed. A better choice might be a roller like this: which has been suggested by @s3v3ns

– BlueCacti – 2015-03-06T10:51:28.903

This answer is not very hacky... – Mooseman – 2015-03-06T17:51:34.920

Known here in the UK as 'blackout blinds'. Good for getting babies to nap. – A E – 2015-03-07T20:35:43.497


Dirt cheap solution:

  • Get a roll of black garbage bags and sew them onto the back of your curtains. If it'd get too hot in direct sunlight, try a layer of aluminum foil on top.
  • Or save some pizza boxes, cut & tape them to your window size and place or tape them there. Easily removable.


Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 91

2Have you tried this? My black garbage bags don't block any more light than a curtain. Cardboard should work well, though, but it sounds like he wants to remove it often, like to open his windows in the afternoon. Velcro? – piojo – 2015-03-06T15:53:13.550

21.) I've seen garbage bags in use in student rooms in Norway. Some rooms have super thin curtains so then it helps yes. You still have to block light coming around the sides.
2.) I use custom-cut pizza boxes for blocking direct sunlight during computer work. This is 98% dark (sloppy edges).
3.) The skylight in my bedroom is covered with aluminum foil. I had to tape it fixed, as it would rip when removing it often.
– steven – 2015-03-06T23:09:08.603

2@piojo We have done this a lot of times with garbage bags when changing gym halls into places to stage plays. Now, it's far from perfect, but as long as you don't dirt cheap bags it got the job done well enough (though our primary concern was temperature and not light). – David Mulder – 2015-03-07T15:57:34.100


Really cheap; Get some black or very dark cloth - old curtains, tablecloths, anything - sew or pin or tack it into a big sheet. It has to be oversized and you may need several layers to get it light-proof.

Now you need a curtain rod; a broomstick, long stick, rod or long piece of wood. Hang the cloth over it.

Now get the curtain rod in place. hold it up by more rods (with Vs cut in the end and leaning against the wall), or put it between two tall pieces of furniture, or step ladders, or attach it with wire to any curtain fitments you already have.

Now tuck in and roll up the extra fabric till it's nice and dark. You can fix corners with thumbtacks. Voila!


Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 1 133

Just a note: Most Fabric bleeds a lot of light when up against a transparent surface. You would need several layers of sheets to be effective. Large width fabric isn't necessarily cheap either and depending on window size can get expensive fast – CRSouser – 2015-03-06T11:53:11.703

I did this using different old bits of fabric. I did need several layers. But they were all old stuff and it cost me nothing. If the fabric is very light you could dye it black, that's fairly cheap. – RedSonja – 2015-03-06T13:41:05.643

Just to let you know, very dark cloth doesn't help much. Sure, it may block the light by 90%, but due to the way we perceive light amounts, a 90% blockage will not make it seem that much darker. You need something with thickness. – piojo – 2015-03-06T15:51:47.243


All solutions to block light involve attaching some light absorbant material to the inside of your windows. This can be made of any material as long as it is lightproof. Solutions that integrate with the windows such as curtains, shutters, or the like may be too expensive, and they need at least some reconstruction to be made.

  1. An easy and very cheap solution that comes to my mind is a cardboard cut to the exact size of your window frame. In case the cardboard becomes shabby we can replace it with the same ease.

  2. Make a piece of plywood the size of the window. This can be attached to the window frame using e.g. Velcro strips or attach with hook screws (in case we are allowed to mount them). The plywood could be painted with any color to please our eeyes.

  3. What we do in our home is attaching a stretched canvas (as can be mande DIY or obtained in any size from an artist's supply store) having the size of the window opening and sitting on the window sill. Cover the back with aluminium foil or paint the canvas black for making it 100% opaque. We could even use a custom made photo print on canvas the size of our window.


Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 4 116

That is really cool. With a picture printed on the inside it's a feature not a bug. – RedSonja – 2015-03-06T13:42:16.903


My windows have sills.

I like to use 1-2" foam. Either single, or paired and packing-tape connected to make a single panel. It comes in 4x8 sheets, you cut it to fit, and seal the edges with an iron and waxed paper / aluminum foil (because otherwise the edge you cut sheds bits).

This blocks light (you may need a bit of squishy foam around the edges for a perfect seal), as well as blocks heat / cold.

The panels are removable, so when you want to open the window you can take the panel out, and the window is fine.

Unfortunately they've gotten rid of the white-sided stuff, which allowed you to double face it so it was white on both sides - and didn't make your room look ghetto from the outside (and the inside). You can cover the inside with a curtain.

The temperature difference is significant on the cooling and heating bills, as well as making the room much more pleasant to be in, temperature-wise - and it's great for light too.

For the garbage-bag solution, some people are using the cheap garbage-bags (which are see-through), you'd want the contractor grade garbage bags which are 3 mils, or 5 mils thick.


Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 199


Line your curtains with blackout liner fabric. There are different styles -- some attach to an existing curtain rod, and some attach to the curtains themselves with hooks. The fabric is also available by the yard at some fabric stores. If you shop around, you could find one on sale for under $10.

A sleep mask is a good backup, to mask any stray light that might leak around the edges of the curtain.

Jan Murphy

Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 121


Heavy duty tape a thick blanket to the wall above the window, and tape the rest of the corners. Pro tip from a guy who has earthquake like migraines.


Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 373


I had the same problem - not sure if my fix will work for you though. My bed has an adjustable frame, so I lowered the spring board all the way down and then fashioned a wooden plank to sit on top of the frame. Then I draped a thick, long quilt over the board, and it completely covers my bed - blocks out all the light and now I use the board/bed as a second desk. Only downside is there isn't a lot of room between the mattress and the board, so getting in was a little tricky the first few days. If your bed frame is such that you can do this, it works really great and is super convenient.


Posted 2015-03-06T05:16:08.607

Reputation: 11

Sounds dangerous... – Mooseman – 2015-03-09T13:04:11.333

Well, I guess if you do a shoddy job attaching the board haha – Ted – 2015-03-09T13:35:31.103