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A neti pot is a popular home-based treatment for nasal congestion. If you’re experiencing upper respiratory congestion or recovering from nasal surgery, you can buy a neti pot and use a store-bought or homemade solution to irrigate your sinuses and nostrils.

This procedure can clear out mucus and temporarily restore ease of breathing. A neti pot is considered safe as long as you follow safety guidelines and use the device as directed.

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Step 1

Use the neti pot in a room with a sink. You can also try using it in the shower to wash the mess away after.

  • Add the saline solution to a clean, dry neti pot.
  • Bend over the sink and look straight down at the sink basin.
  • Turn your head at a 45-degree angle.
  • Gently press the spout of the neti pot into the nostril closest to the ceiling.
  • Make sure you have a seal between the neti pot and your nostril. The neti pot shouldn’t touch your septum.

Tap water warning

A lot of neti pots come with a salt packet that you’re meant to dissolve in water. This requires distilled water or water that has been boiled. Do not use tap water. This presents a risk of an amoeba contamination, which can be fatal.

Step 2

Breathe through your mouth during this step.

  • Tip the neti pot so the saline solution reaches your nostril.
  • Keep the neti pot tipped while the solution runs through your nostril and leaves through your other nostril.

Step 3

The solution will drain out of the nostril closest to the sink basin.

  • Continue to pour the solution into your nostril until the neti pot is empty.
  • Once you’ve used all of the solution, remove the neti pot from your nostril and bring your head up.
  • Breathe through both nostrils to clear out your nose.
  • Use a tissue to absorb remaining saline and mucus that drips from your nose.

Step 4

Repeat the steps above to allow the saline solution to flow through your other nostril.

Here’s a video that illustrates how to use a neti pot:

A neti pot, which looks similar to a teapot, flushes out mucus from your nose. Using a saline solution with the device instead of just water helps decrease irritation.

People have used the neti pot to clear out their nasal passages for hundreds of years.

If you’re congested from a cold or allergies, you may want to consider using a neti pot. Your doctor may even prescribe a specific solution to use in a neti pot if you’re recovering from nasal or sinus surgery.

To use the device, pour the saline solution into one nostril at a time. The solution will flow through your nasal cavity and come out of the other nostril.

According to a 2009 study, saline solution may:

  • cleanse your nasal cavity
  • remove inflammation-causing elements
  • improve the ability of your respiratory system to self-clean

Try using the neti pot once a day if you have sinus congestion. If you find it to be effective, you may want to start using it twice a day while you still have symptoms.

You can buy a neti pot online.

Neti pots can be a great solution for congestion, but it’s important to exercise caution when trying nasal irrigation. Here are some tips to help you use the neti pot safely:

  • Use only distilled water (tap water boiled for several minutes and left to cool to a lukewarm temperature) or completely filtered water. There are recorded deaths due to an amebic infection after nasal irrigation, so it’s essential to make sure your water is infection-free.
  • Replace your neti pot as often as you replace your toothbrush (so, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about every 3 to 4 months for plastic pots) to avoid bacteria and microbe buildup. If you have a ceramic neti pot, this can last you for years.
  • Don’t use water that’s too hot or too cold. Water that’s lukewarm or room temperature is best for your neti pot.
  • Always clean and dry your neti pot after each use. Wash the neti pot with hot water and antibacterial soap. Dry it thoroughly with a fresh paper towel, or let it air dry.
  • Discontinue use of your neti pot if it stings your nostrils, causes ear pain, or doesn’t improve symptoms.
  • Talk with a pediatrician before using the neti pot on a young child.
  • Do NOT use a neti pot on an infant.

If you’ve got younger kids and are looking for an alternative, there are other options for nasal irrigation, including:

Preparing a solution for a neti pot can be done at home.

When doing so, it’s important to use the right water type and temperature. Some water can carry organisms that may be harmful to you.

Water guidelines

There are several types of water safe to use in a neti pot:

  • Distilled or sterile water. This will be available for purchase from a store or online.
  • Boiled tap water. However, this is only safe to use if it’s been boiled for several minutes and cooled to a lukewarm temperature. You can store tap water prepared this way up to 1 day in advance.
  • Water that’s been filtered using a specifically designed filter. This filter must have an absolute pore size of 1 micron or less to capture infectious organisms.

Don’t use surface water or water straight from the tap in a neti pot. If you’re concerned about the safety of your water, it’s best to use distilled water.

How to make a neti pot solution

Follow these steps to create your saline solution:

  1. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher, pickling, Epsom, or canning salt to a 16-ounce glass of boiled water cooled to a lukewarm temperature.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the glass (optional).
  3. Stir the solution.

You can store the remaining solution at room temperature for up to 2 days.

If your nostrils sting for any reason after using this solution with the neti pot, use half the salt when making another batch.

Using a neti pot is a safe, effective way to reduce upper respiratory congestion at home. Make sure to prepare your saline solution safely and clean your neti pot after every use.

You should only continue using a neti pot if it relieves your symptoms. If you find the neti pot to be ineffective or if it irritates your nasal passages, talk with your doctor about alternatives.

Neti pots aren’t for everyone, so you might want to try using squeeze bottles for irrigation. They work on the same principles as a neti pot but don’t require side head tilting — just tilting forward. Some people find them easier to use. Whatever the preference, you’ll always have an affordable, available remedy for a blocked nose.