White noise is a repetitious sound — either from nature like the sound of falling rain or a rushing brook, or mechanical like the sound of a washing machine or a fan — used to mask distracting sounds. It’s used to increase concentration and focus, sooth upset children and pets, reduce stress, bring about sleep and drown out tinnitus, a permanent ringing in the ear. Using white noise in the home or office takes some experimenting to find out what works, for you and for the distracting noises, but can pleasantly surprise even the biggest skeptic.
Turn on a small fan. A fan is likely the number one white noise maker used in the home. However, the trick to using a fan strategically is to place it near an area of the home or office where sound tends to penetrate, such as doors or windows.
Invest in a sound machine. These range in price from $10 to $100s, depending on whether you choose a simple white noise machine for use in the bedroom or a commercial system designed for office use. Machines for home use are mainly effective in a bedroom setting as they are preset with several nature sound options to provide an optimal environment for sleep. In an office setting, white noise machines may be small enough to fit on a desk, or large enough that they need to be installed in ceilings or need a speaker system.
Consider whether a music system would be an effective white noise generator for you. Technically, music and the sound of the human voice are not considered white noise, but for some people, it can effectively veil outside sounds, especially in the work environment. To use a music system effectively, a surround sound effect is optimal. Some commercial true white noise machines use this concept to cover voice, traffic and other sounds that are not conducive to a working environment.