15 Annoying Sounds That Need To Go Away Forever

Key takeaways

  • There’s no denying it – some sounds are super annoying. We’re all bothered by different noises, but some of the most hated sounds include loud chewing, babies crying and snoring.
  • There’s little research into what causes noise sensitivity, but it’s thought to be down to the way the brain functions, rather than being a hearing problem.
  • There’s no need to let annoying noises rule your life  – there are various ways you can take control, including therapy, white noise and earplugs.

Everybody has their own opinions on the most annoying sounds in the world. Most people hate the wet smacking sounds that come with open-mouth chewing. Others are guilty of it themselves.

Man Drinking From Straw

That slurping sound made when you’re trying to suck up the last of your drink through the straw? It disgusts some people as well (though this may be a necessary evil).

There are a certain few noises that the general population hates. At best, they can give you a headache or leave your ears ringing. At worst, they could damage your hearing. Keep reading to find out more about the most annoying sounds in the world – and why we find them just so irritating.

What are the most annoying sounds?

So, what are the most annoying sounds in the world? Well, it varies from person to person, but there are surely a few noises that we can all agree are incredibly irritating. From loud chewing to lawnmowers, here’s our ultimate list of irritating sounds – in no particular order.

1. Loud chewing

Open mouth chewing. It’s enough to incite rage and disgust in some people. We all have that one colleague, friend or family member who eats really loudly – and you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see that the only spare seat at the table is beside them.

Chewing is definitely up there as one of the most annoying sounds – in fact, a 2021 study carried out by British retailer Currys found it to be the number one most hated noise, with nearly half (48.92%) of those surveyed voting for it.

2. Nails on a chalkboard

That horrible squeak of nails on a chalkboard is one of the most universally despised sounds. Do you get the chills when you hear it? Or do you feel repulsed? Maybe you feel a little bit funny even just thinking about it. 

If so, you’re not alone. The Spanish even have a word for the sensation caused by sounds like this: grima. It describes the way specific sounds sets your teeth on edge, similar to disgust – and surely there’s no sound that elicits disgust more than the scraping on nails on a chalkboard.

3. Other people’s music

If you’ve ever sat on a plane, bus or train and had to suffer through the sound of someone listening to music or playing a video out loud, with no headphones, then you’ll know what we’re talking about. There’s something intensely irritating about hearing other people’s music that leaves us unable to concentrate on anything else. Surely headphones should be mandatory in public places?

4. Loud talking

Whether it’s colleagues talking loudly in the office when you’re trying to focus on an important piece of work, or a group of friends talking loudly at another table in a cafe, other people’s chatter can be annoying. Sometimes it’s all you can focus on, which can lead to feelings of irritation, frustration and even anger. 

It can be infuriating, but other people have the right to chat as much as you have the right to silence – and it’s a good idea to remember that they’re probably not doing it to annoy you. The best solution is usually to reduce the amount of distracting noise in your environment with a pair of earplugs like Loop Quiet. They can help filter out hard-to-live-with noises like other people talking loudly, leaving you in a position where you’re better able to focus.

5. Babies crying

Babies. We all love them – they’re adorable. But babies crying and children screaming are pretty high on the list of the most annoying noises ever. In fact, the study by Currys found that 36.19% of survey respondents said that children screaming was their most hated noise. Again, there’s not much that you can do about other people’s kids (or even your own!) crying, but you can learn to manage your response to it.

6. Dogs barking

Repetitive sounds are annoying. Especially loud, repetitive noises. If you’ve ever been kept up all night by the sound of a neighbor’s dog barking, we’re sure it’s up there on your list of irritating sounds. The dog’s probably not doing it to make you angry – but somehow, they manage to achieve it anyway.

7. Snoring

Whether you’re the long-suffering partner of a snorer, or you can hear other family members through the wall at night, snoring can be maddening. It’s particularly annoying to think of the other person lying there, sound asleep, while you desperately struggle to drop off – because of the noise they’re making! So selfish. Except it’s not really, since they can’t control it… which just makes it even more annoying.

8. Squeaky hinges

Rare is the house or office that’s free from a noisy door. You know these very well: the ones that insist on having their voices heard no matter what.

From a long, drawn out creak to a sudden, heart stopping screech, these doors can interfere with concentration and sleeping habits. Consider investing in a set of quality earplugs designed for all-night comfort so you don’t have to hear your roommate getting up to pee in the middle of the night.

9. Vacuum cleaners

First of all, can you believe there are white noise loops that use vacuum cleaner sounds? Who in their right mind would want to listen to these monsters while trying to fall asleep?

Making everyone nearby jump when turned on, vacuum cleaners need to learn to chill out. The old models in particular are the real criminals as they can be heard even one floor up. And if you’re in the same room as one, move to another if you can. Preserve your focus, hearing, and sanity before it’s too late! Definitely one of the most annoying sounds ever.

10. Car alarms

Think about it: have you ever heard a car alarm go off when someone was actually breaking into the car? Nope. They only go off during completely innocent times, annoying you – and everyone else in your street. 

Not only will these alarms make your ears ring, but they can actually cause damage. A regular car alarm can hit 90 to 110 decibels – and considering that ear damage is possible after exposure to 100 decibel sounds for 30 minutes without ear protection, prolonged, close-range exposure to a car alarm could be bad news. 

So, the next time your alarm activates by accident – hey, it happens to the best of us – turn it off ASAP.

11. Noisy traffic

Thought one noisy car was bad enough? Now imagine living next to a major road. Where twice a day dozens of vehicles clog the area, filling the air with the constant honking of horns.

If you live near a busy road, we’re sure you’ll rank the constant sound of traffic among the most annoying noises in the world – and even more so when you’re trying to get some shut-eye at night. This rush of noise may be bearable during the day, but could prevent you from getting proper sleep at night.

12. Sirens

Sirens are loud and annoying. On the bright side, you don’t usually have to listen to a siren for too long. 

On the down side, they are very loud! Most emergency vehicle sirens, such as those on police cars and ambulances, can reach 110 to 120 decibels when they’re turned on. That’s very close to the levels at which hearing damage can occur, as just 30 minutes of exposure to sounds of 100 decibels, without ear protection, can potentially cause hearing damage. It’s unlikely that you’ll be exposed to a siren sound for that long, though. 

But for the short time a siren is nearby, expect ringing ears. Usually, all conversations will pause until the noise is gone. Sirens are, of course, necessary. The more annoying the siren on a vehicle is, the faster the other cars will move to let it through.

13. Drilling

There’s a reason hearing protection is required for workers using power tools. By itself, a drill is loud enough. But when placed against concrete walls, it creates an awful grinding noise. If you’re sensitive to noise and have ever struggled through a day of working from home while your neighbor does DIY, then we’re sure you’re with us when we say that drilling is one of the most infuriating sounds out there.

14. Lawnmowers

Sleeping in on a lazy Sunday is impossible when your friendly neighbor decides to mow the lawn. The roar of a lawnmower is enough to wake even the heaviest sleeper. 

If you would rather get some more sleep than getting up and yelling to your neighbor to keep it down: earplugs are an easy (and less confrontational) solution!

15. Tinnitus

While some of these annoying sounds are truly hell on earth, they can still be shut out. However, one sound you can’t run away from is tinnitus.

The moment you permanently damage your hearing and are stuck with the constant ringing in your ears, there’s no going back. You just can’t escape the annoying sound. There’s only one thing you can do: prevent it. Make sure you wear quality earplugs whenever you are exposed to loud noise, be it a festival, club, or at work. Trust us, you don’t want tinnitus.

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Why do people find certain sounds annoying?

Noise is a fact of life. But that doesn’t stop some people from feeling like everyday sounds are incredibly irritating. If you find yourself getting worked up by annoying noises, it could mean that you have noise sensitivity or have a condition like misophonia.

While some people might find sounds like slurping or chewing mildly annoying, for people with misophonia or extreme sound sensitivity, these sounds can trigger intense emotional reactions such as feelings of anger and frustration.

It’s not fully understood what causes misophonia, but it’s generally agreed that it’s caused by the way some people’s brain processes sounds, rather than being a problem with their hearing. 

A 2021 study found that misophonia is linked to irregular brain connectivity, and a larger amygdala, the part of the brain that helps to process emotions. According to the study, the size of one’s amygdala may dictate how they respond to certain sounds – so someone with a larger amygdala may think that a clicking pen is the world’s most annoying sound, when it might not even register with someone who has a smaller amygdala.

How can people deal with exposure to annoying sounds?

As annoying as some of these sounds can be, there isn’t always a way to avoid them – and there isn’t always a cure for conditions like misophonia, either. But there are some things you can do to help you deal with annoying noises.

These include:

  • Using white noise: White noise can help to mask the sound of annoying noises, meaning your brain focuses less on them. This can be particularly helpful if you’re trying to concentrate at work or struggling to get to sleep at night due to a noisy environment or snoring partner.
  • Wearing earplugs: Noise-reducing earplugs can help to reduce the intensity of bothersome sounds, whether you’re trying to get to sleep, need to concentrate on something at work, or to allow you to more fully engage in conversations without being distracted by other noises. 
  • Destressing: Managing your stress levels may mean you’re better able to deal with noises that trigger you the most, as you’ll be in a better state of mind. Find the things that help you to destress, whether that’s time alone with a good book, playing with your pets, getting regular exercise, or spending time doing your hobbies.
  • Talking it out: Even if you choose not to work with a therapist, finding like minded people with whom you can talk about your noise sensitivity can really help you to get to grips with how it affects you and the impact it has on your life.

Sure, some sounds are super annoying – but you don’t need to let them rule your life. Whether it’s crying babies, other people talking loudly, or car sirens blaring, take control with tools and techniques to help you manage your responses and get ready to say goodbye to those irritating sounds!

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