Just like everyone else, I was passing through my life without paying much attention to my surroundings. I never noticed the birds pleasantly humming in my garden, or the jarring sounds of vehicles on the next street, till I recorded my first podcast. Prior to this, I had not even remotely considered the possibility of soundproofing my room with only my household items.
If you haven’t recorded your first podcast yet, let me tell you that soundproofing your recording environment is a must if you want your work to sound good. And you need not break your bank for it. One can easily use a combination of household objects to soundproof a room. It would neither take much time nor cost too much.
If you have full control over your recording studio/room and you can arrange it at will I highly recommend you to go with a more professional approach and use pro materials (everything is described here). This guide is more suited to people who are e.g. renting, or for whatever reason can’t change the esthetics of their rooms.
If you look around carefully, many household items can do the trick for you. To help you out, I have made a list of 20 household objects that you can use to soundproof your room before you turn that microphone on.
TOP 20 household objects you can use to soundproof
1. Blankets or Quilts
Doors and windows are thinner than walls, and that’s why you need to pay particular attention to them in your soundproofing quest. Some doors are made of hollow wood, and such doors let the noise pass through more easily.
The quickest way to handle this situation is to take out the blankets and use them for soundproofing. All you have to do is to spread them and hang them on your door or secure them to your windows. Since blankets are made of layers of heavy material, they are good to use for soundproofing.
If you live in a high-rise building, your floor could also be another source of sound, bringing you the chatter and sounds of the folks living below. Again, you can utilize the blankets you have. Just spread them out on the (clean) floor in order to soundproof it.
2. Cushions and Pillows
If you live in a hot tropical place, you may not always have your blankets handy to use for soundproofing. But all households use pillows round the year. The pillows and cushions in your home would make for an excellent soundproofing device.
You can stuff the pillows in the window area to block out the sounds. If your window design doesn’t allow the pillows to stay in place, you can use a clothing line to prop the pillows on it, and keep it in front of the windows. You can also use the removable cushions from your furniture if the pillows are not enough.
3. Hang Heavy Curtains
Yet another important item in your household is those heavy curtains that you might have stashed away due to laundry woes. If you don’t have soundproofing curtains, these could act as a great substitute.
Unlike your lightweight and fancy curtains, heavy drapery works well in absorbing the sound entering through doors and windows. And hanging curtains would not require any intensive effort.
4. Wall Art
Your love for art could aid your love for podcasting! If you own large paintings, you could place them on a wall that you want to soundproof. The canvas would act as an extra material that would help soundproof the wall. And it would also lend a certain character to your recording space.
Great wall art should not only be a soundproofing material, but also an awesome element of your room. Pick something you love. Here is a nice modern proposition that will match to a modern apartment (check current price).
5. Bookshelves or Dresser
If you have a wall that emanates all the sounds from the other side, you need to fix it before you record your podcast. And that bookshelf with all the books that you have curated over the years, you could use that too for the purpose of soundproofing.
Take some help from a family member, and do a bit of reorganizing. Move the book shelf in front of the wall, and it would act as an effective barrier, absorbing the myriad sounds that could come through the brick and mortar. One can also utilize a dresser in the same manner.
Your mattress is another object that would be great at soundproofing. All you have to do is to remove it from your bed and prop it against the problematic door or the wall. Or if you have a naked wall just behind your bed, you can easily flip your mattress and soundproof a large wall in 30 seconds.
Have you been planning to get rid of the carpets because you are sick and tired of vacuuming them? If yes, then think again. You can place them on the floor for soundproofing.
If you don’t want to have a carpet in your room, but still need to record there, simply drop pillows or blankets on the floor for the duration of the recording.
8. Small Rugs
Even the small gap underneath your door is enough for unwanted sounds to seep into your home-recording area. Dealing with it is quite easy though if you have a small rug at home. You can use it to soundproof your door by simply placing it on the floor next to the door, and sealing the gap.
If you don’t have a rug that you could use to block out the sounds from coming from below the door, you could also use your towel for soundproofing. If your window has gaps or the door has a crack, try hanging a towel over it. Towels are made of thick fabric that can help provide a noticeable level of noise reduction.
So if you have been thinking of buying new towels, don’t cast away the old ones.
10. Exercise Mats
Many folks buy soundproofing or acoustic foam to soundproof their walls or doors. A household object that can act as a substitute and used for soundproofing is your humble exercise mat. If working out on the mat is not your thing anymore, use it to soundproof your door so that you can work on your podcast minus any distractions.
11. Reorganize Furniture
You can rearrange the furniture in your room to soundproof your walls. You can move your bed towards the wall that faces the living room. That could help block the voices coming from the other side of the wall.
You could also change the position of the trunk in your room to get the same effect.
12. Cardboard Boxes
My house has a collection of cardboard boxes, thanks to our ever-increasing dependency on e-commerce websites. While most of the time we give those away for recycling, last month I flattened some of them to use for soundproofing.
I taped the flattened cardboard throughout the length and breadth of a window, and now I don’t have to worry about the garbage truck’s sound popping up in my podcast!
Another option, when it comes to boxes is to replace your plastic storage boxes with ones made from softer material.
13. Combine Different Materials
There are no fixed rules for soundproofing using household objects. You can see what things you have at home, and use your creativity to get the end results. The only thing that matters is that your soundproofing should work! You can use a combination of old cardboard and exercise mats for soundproofing. Or spread out two chairs and hang a quilt over them to create a soundproof barrier.
14. Bean Bags
Bean bags are easy to move, which means they are easy to use for soundproofing. Heavy chairs can also be used for the same purpose, especially if they are covered with leather or a fabric.
They also look nice in any room, and even look good on camera in the background if you want to record a video for your podcast. I like this blue one (check current price).
15. Training Bike
Though training bikes have little to do with sound recording, you can think of them as another object to use for soundproofing. You can keep it as it is, or hang a sheet or a quilt on it for additional noise reduction. You could also think of other large objects in your home that you won’t mind moving to use for soundproofing.
16. Plastic Bags
I personally find plastic a menace and try to use less of it. Pretty much of everything we buy comes wrapped in some kind of plastic, and I hate that. Apart from reducing my plastic consumption, I also try to reuse what I end up getting inside my home.
And one day, I made my own weatherstrip by using old plastic, a pair of scissors, and scotch tape. It’s fairly simple to execute, you just need to roll strips of plastic into the required shape, and tape it together.
17. Old Foam
You can stick old foam on cardboard strips to make window plugs. You can place these window plugs in the cracks of windows to absorb sounds coming from the other side.
18. Create a Barrier from Tripods
If you or a family member is fond of photography and owns a couple of tripods, you could use those for soundproofing. Tripods can be used to hang sheets or lightweight quits and place them as a barrier in front of the wall you want to soundproof.
19. Open Your Wardrobe’s Doors
If you have a wardrobe in your record room, you can open its doors wide to provide additional surface area for absorbing noise.
20. Open Your Bed with Storage
Beds with storage usually have big drawers that slide outside. People like to keep their spare stuff inside it. If you have a bed with storage, you could keep the drawers open while you record your podcast. The extra surface area of the drawer, as well as the material inside, would act as a sound absorbent. Once you are done, just slide them back in.
How Does Soundproofing Works?
Sound travels in two ways. The first is through the air. For instance, when a person talks to you, or when you turn on the TV. The other is through materials. Like when you can hear your kids frolicking in the living room while you are busy scouring the internet for new podcast ideas inside your room.
The main purpose of soundproofing is to prevent the outside noise from interfering with the recordings. Soundproofing works by absorbing the sound waves and converting them into heat energy. To put in simple words, the sound gets dampened and changes into barely noticeable heat.
Many households have thin walls or doors that allow free entry of noise. In such cases, soundproofing your home-recording room is an absolute must. You could perhaps take a walk around the room and see which areas transmit more sound. You might only need to soundproof a part of your room to tackle the problem.
DIY Household Soundproofing – What kind of results I can get?
To be frank, soundproofing with household objects won’t replicate the ambiance of a professional studio. But the results are good enough for a home-recording setup. And when I say good enough, I mean that there would be a clear difference in results if you don’t soundproof at all, and if you do soundproofing with household objects. I always advise to choose the latter option.
When you use household objects for soundproofing, you save time and a lot of money. If you are a new podcaster who isn’t quite certain about investing in more permanent soundproofing structures, or someone with a shoe-string budget, these tips could help you record a noise-free podcast.
Some amateur podcasters think that they could choose between soundproofing their recording room and postprocessing the recording to remove noise. Please remember that it removing sounds from the recording is a cumbersome process, and you can save those hours by spending a little time on soundproofing your surroundings.
Have I missed anything? What other household items are you using to soundproof?