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Is Vacuum Noise Harmful to a Baby?

Is Vacuum Noise Harmful to a Baby?
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Related Articles: Quiet Vacuum Cleaners 

It goes without saying that parents want what's best for their babies. Parents might rely on white noise machines to lull a baby to sleep, and air purifiers and vacuum cleaners are necessary tools for maintaining a clean, healthy environment. But how much noise is safe for your bundle of joy?  

A 2014 Pediatrics study tested a range of white noise machines to determine how their maximum noise output levels might affect a baby's hearing. These studies found that most white noise machines have a maximum noise output level of 85 decibels, a level comparable to a blender, hair dryer, or factory noise. Prolonged exposure to this level of noise output can cause hearing damage in adults, and even the exceeds recommended noise output limits set in place by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

Of course, these guidelines apply to adults, and may not be conservative enough for infants. While it's difficult to pinpoint how much noise exposure is unsafe for a baby, consider that most neonatal intensive care units and hospital nurseries strive to maintain their noise levels around 50 decibels--that's about the volume of a relaxed conversation or typical office environment. 

So how does this relate back to vacuum cleaners? The average vacuum cleaner noise output falls between 65 and 75 decibels, with some quieter models in the lower sixties. While this does exceed the 50-decibel level that hospitals and NICUs recommend, vacuuming is an essential step in maintaining a healthy environment for you and your baby. We recommend these steps based on the the findings of the 2014 Pediatrics white noise machine study: 

  • Use your vacuum cleaner as far from your baby as possible. While some vacuum cleaners may exceed the noise output levels set by nurseries and NICUs, placing more space between the vacuum and your baby will reduce the volume they are exposed to. 

  • Be mindful of your vacuum cleaner's operating volume. Many vacuum cleaners have a range of suction settings, most of which generate different noise output levels. Some manufacturers offer vacuum cleaners that operate as low as 61 decibels, like this Electrolux EL7063B UltraSilencer DeepClean canister. (To compare the noise output levels of some other models, check out this blog post.)

  • Limit the duration of vacuuming sessions. While we cannot recommend a specific amount of time, combining shorter vacuuming sessions with the volume and distance awareness can help everyone in your family enjoy a cleaner, quieter home. 

For additional information about any of the vacuum cleaners mentioned in this post, please call (866) 972-8227.


We know that prolonged exposure to too much noise can damage our hearing, but how much is too much noise for a baby? In this post, we compare the results of a 2014 study against the average vacuum cleaner volume.


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