How to Properly Use a Neti Pot

woman with neti pot

Your search is on for sinus symptom relief, and medications and nasal sprays have stopped working or cause unwanted side effects. Your sinus problems lead to headaches and facial pain, and you need relief. A neti pot is a simple, natural, and safe way to treat your sinuses. A neti pot looks like a small teapot with a long spout that used to flush out congested nasal passages.

Flushing out nasal passages helps relieve nasal symptoms from congested sinuses, sinus infections, colds, and allergies. Neti pots can also help moisten dried-out nasal passages. Sinus rinsing removes dust, pollen and other small bits. It also loosens thick mucus, so mild nose blowing can get rid of it completely.

It's important to use neti pots properly because improper use can increase the risk of infection.

Step-by-step instructions for nasal irrigation with a neti pot:

  1. Buy a neti pot:

Neti pots are sold in pharmacies and online. Choose a simple neti pot or a kit. Some kits have saline solution included. If yours doesn’t come with a solution, step 4 includes a homemade solution you can make.

  1. Clean the neti pot:

Give your neti pot a good cleaning. Neti pots can harbor bacteria. Thoroughly clean the pot with hot soapy water. Let the neti pot air-dry completely before using.

  1. Choose your location:

Use your neti pot in a place where water can trickle away safely. Use tissues or a clean cloth to catch the water.

Use the pot over a sink, bowl, shower drain or outdoors. Wear a shirt that you don’t mind getting water on, or use it while in the shower.

  1. Make the saline solution:

Plain water can irritate the nose. A saline solution is easy on sensitive nasal membranes with little or no burning or irritation.

For safety reasons, don’t use tap water without boiling it for 3-5 minutes first. Let the boiled water cool until lukewarm. Test the temperature with a drop on the inside of your wrist. If it feels comfortable, start making your solution.

You can also use distilled or sterile water which needs no boiling, and can be purchased in stores or online.

Make your homemade solution in the neti pot:

  1. Pour 8 ounces warm distilled or boiled water into the pot.
  2. Add 1/4 teaspoon fine non-iodized salt OR 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher salt).
  3. Stir thoroughly until salt is completely dissolved.

TIP: Do not use regular table salt that has iodine because it can irritate your nose.

If using a pre-packaged solution, simply stir it into lukewarm water.

  1. Begin flushing:

Wash and dry your hands. Take the filled neti pot and lean over a bowl or sink. Tilt your head sideways, so your face is horizontal, to prevent the liquid from flowing into your mouth.

Tightly fit the end of the neti pot spout into the upper nostril. Breathe through your open mouth. A tight fit ensures water cannot leak out of that nostril.

Once the end of the spout is in the upper nostril, liquid drains through the lower nostril. Use half of the solution. Clear your nostril.

Optional: Before you do the other nostril, stand straight. Lightly blow your nose to clear it further.

Repeat the process in the other nostril using the rest of the solution.

If water escapes into your throat, that’s normal. Spit it out. Adjust the angle of your head so the water flows only through nasal passages.

  1. After flushing: Lightly blow your nose to clear all the solution.

Wash your neti pot, dry it with a paper towel, or let it air-dry between uses.

Enjoy the natural relief a neti pot gives you! If you are still suffering from sinus pain or an infection, contact the ENT Centers of Excellence to help relieve your pain.

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