How to Hide Embarrassing Bathroom Noises in Your Home
Here’s one effective way to mask private noises when people use your bathroom.
It’s a common problem: you have a bathroom with thin walls and/or a flimsy door adjacent to a living room or other common area. Whenever someone uses the toilet, everyone can hear the person doing their thing.
My condo has that problem. It’s embarrassing for the person using the bathroom and awkward for everyone else.
So, to mask the sound, I’d turn on the TV. Or sometimes, guests would flush first, do their thing, then flush again. Or, let the faucet run. Not good in Southern California which is going through a drought.
Some Rejected Solutions
My first instinct was to install a bathroom fan to mask the noise, but that seemed like a big hassle, and furthermore, many modern fans are pretty quiet. It could be a lot of work and it might not even solve the problem!
Next, I did some experiments to try to dampen and isolate the sound. I hung drapes on the walls and door, which actually did help somewhat, but it was impractical and cluttered up my tiny bathroom. I didn’t want a bunch of drapes hanging in it.
Enter the Motion-Controlled Sound Player
I thought there had to be a better solution, but amazingly, no one on the Internet had any great ideas. Then one day I stumbled upon a product that I thought might do the trick: a motion-controlled sound player. I found the SierraTeck Motion Activated Audio Player on Amazon for $45.
The idea was, I’d put it in my bathroom. When it detected motion as someone walked in, it would play a sound file to mask the sounds, just like a bathroom fan would.
The marketing for this product didn’t mention the bathroom application. Instead, it was intended “to assist elderly with daily activities”, or to be used as a door greeter, in point of sale advertising, as a safety reminder or in escape rooms. I crossed my fingers that it would do the trick in my bathroom, and I went ahead and ordered it.
What You Get
When it arrived, it was smaller than I expected, which is a good thing.
The unit came with mounting screws, an optional ball-joint mounting bracket, and Velcro stickers, so there are a variety of mounting options. The micro SD card and adapter were also included, as was the USB power adapter. I was happy that everything I needed to make this work was included!
How it Works
I inserted the micro SD card into the adapter, put it into my computer, and loaded an MP3 file of ocean sounds that I found online. The SD card works with Windows or Mac, as long as you have an SD card reader.
I plugged the micro SD card into the unit, connected power, and turned it on. Voila! When I waved my hand in front of it, it played the ocean sounds! I moved it to my bathroom and tested it there. When I walked in, the sound file started playing! It worked!! The volume seemed to be more than enough to mask objectionable bathroom noises.
My bathroom has a window, so I was worried that the unit would trigger when someone walked by outside. But, so far, no false triggers!
Sound Quality and Other Features
I added a music file to the micro SD card to test the sound quality. To be sure, the sound quality was pretty bad: no bass, rolled-off high-end, and way too much mid; worse than a cell phone speaker. It sucks at playing music, but that’s not what it was made for. It’s fine for playing ocean sounds and is definitely loud enough!
If you really want better sound quality, you can use the 1/8″ output to send the sound to a better amplifier/speaker.
The unit has a few modes. It can play one file, all files one after the other, or all files randomly. I quickly tested and these modes seemed to work. I also tested files at 128kbps and 192kbps and both played fine.
It has a rechargeable battery which is useless to me. I just leave it plugged in all of the time.
The paper instructions that came with the unit had an error, but they emailed me a corrected version after I purchased it on Amazon.
My MP3 Sound File
As I mentioned, I originally used the sound of ocean waves as my sound file. This was okay but I felt like it might not mask out high-frequency sounds of, um, liquid hitting the water in the toilet bowl, so I added some tropical bird sounds. You can download my MP3 sound file here or listen to it below:
I don’t recommend using music because the sound quality of this unit just isn’t up to it. Also, music might not do as good a job of masking the bathroom sounds. And, there are cases where it might be inappropriate or weird to have music start playing unexpectedly.
Verdict: It Does the Job!
So now I’m really happy with this solution! It is way less hassle than installing a fan or sound-absorbing material (and cheaper). The sound quality is not great, but it’s more than loud enough to mask the sound when someone is doing their business in the bathroom!!
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I test or research each product or service before endorsing. This site is not owned by any retailer or manufacturer. I own this site and the opinions expressed here are mine. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Note, I recommend getting this from Amazon due to their stellar return policy, and because some other sellers don’t include the SD card!
Try it out and let me know what you think! It’s the best solution I’ve found to mask embarrassing bathroom noise!!! Finally!! – Brian
Please Leave a Question or Comment
I try to answer each one! - Brian
Now if only someone could come up with an automatic odor eliminator, if you catch my drift. ;-)
Before you pass that chocolate delight…
Thank you so much for this! I’m going to set this up at my workplace and tell everyone how to use it. We have one restroom, the unisex one-person-at-a-time kind, and it’s only accessible through the breakroom. I try not to make my… let’s say, lengthier bathroom trips… when someone’s eating lunch at the only table, right outside the restroom. But I have stomach issues so that’s not always possible. I’m sure I’ve killed a few appetites, and I’ve had coworkers kill mine. Hopefully your invention will help!
Haha!!! Thanks for sharing Jasmine!
I just received mine and opened it, inserted the memory card, didn’t like what was on it, took it out, recorded your MP3 sound file, put it back in, and now it is stuck inside. I can’t take it out. What do I do?
Hmmm… Looks like you can open up the unit by unscrewing the four screws in the back. If you feel like you’re handy with such things you can give it a try. That’s probably the only way to get it out.
Sort of a tangent, but: I once visited Susan B. Anthony’s childhood home, which is now a museum, and one of the objects on display was her chamber pot. It had a kind of padding around the seat, which according to an informational plaque served to muffle sounds made in the chamberpot. Apparently, Susan shared a bedroom with her sisters, and the chamberpot was kept under the bed. If young Susan had to go in the middle of the night, she would have to go in the same room as her sisters, and probably be very grateful for the noise-canceling padding!
Haha, thanks for sharing Janel!
Wow ! Thanks for all this info! I printed the corrected instructions, downloaded the sound you created and ordered from Amazon off of your link. You made this gal’s day!!!! THANKS!!!!
Great! Let me know how it goes.
thank you so much..i plan to buy it..does it work as soon as someone walks into the bathroom? or does someone have to walk past it to activate it?
Depends on the size of the bathroom. In my small bathroom, it activates as soon as you walk in. I found that it’s pretty sensitive. But, the movement has to have a direct line of site to the unit’s sensor, of course. If you have a huge bathroom, yes, you’d have to walk past it to trigger.
How long does it play for after someone enters the bathroom?
It will play for however long your audio file is. If you use the one I provide, it’s just under a minute.
I just wanted to thank you for your post! We’ve been trying to come up with a way to cover up the bathroom noise in our new office space…Unfortunately, you were able to hear everyone’s everything. I googled “how to hide bathroom noise” and presto – I landed on your blog. We purchased the device and used your MP3 file. I was skeptical, but was totally wrong! Thank you for taking the time to write your blog, and the sound file! We would still be listening to everyone tinkle had you not taken the time to write this.
Haha, thank you for writing Dina! I’m glad it worked for your office!
Thank you so much for your post. It was really helpful. I got my Sierra Teck a few days ago. I downloaded your MP3 (I love it!) and I erased the other sounds that came in the micro card.
The thing is that my device is making the default sounds with no card in it! Also when I insert the card, it keeps making the same sounds, but your MP3 is not in it. Well, this might be because the Guide says that in order to add an audio you should use Windows not MAC. I will try with Windows at work. Anyway, it is still werid that the sounds are some where else appart from the card… Can you help me with it? Thanks!
Yeah, I think I remember that too. Apparently the unit has some built-in sounds in internal ROM.
Per the instructions, make sure there are no hidden Mac files on the SD card, i.e., delete all non-MP3 files on the card. Also, make sure it’s fully inserted and the contacts are clean. And when you put it back into your computer, make sure you can still play the file (i.e., make sure it was indeed copied on there). If you switch to a Windows machine, re-format the card.
Hope this helps… Let me know.
Thank you so much for your response! You were very helpful. I found out that the problem was the microcard was not properly inserted. I was trying to insert it with my finger rather than with my finger nail. Once that it is inserted it just plays the sounds I recorded on the card, that is, your MP3 :)
Anyway, the company was super helpful when I emailed them. Also I wanted to let the readers know that Sierra Teck says that the card works only in Windows but, as you said, it actually works in Mac too. Great!
I would love to have some music on it. It would be fun listening rock and roll music any time you go to the bathroom!! I will try.
Thanks for your post and your great idea!
Thanks for the great article. I believe it works with certain MAC versions and not others (some leave hidden files), hence using Windows is the most reliable option.
When there is no card inserted, the device will still play any audio files stored in internal memory. To overwrite the audio stored in internal memory, one can follow the instructions in the full user guide on the sierrateck website, or simply keep the memory card inserted and it will play from memory card by default.
Glad it worked!!! Thanks for following up!
I tried it with music and it didn’t sound that great to me; it’s best for sound effects. But feel free to try and see what you think.