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How to Use a Neti Pot

April 17, 2019 Family Life

Co-authored by Luba Lee, FNP-BC This article was co-authored by Luba Lee, FNP-BC. Luba Lee is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner in Tennessee. She received her MSN from the University of Tennessee in 2006.
There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

A neti pot is used for nasal irrigation, which entails flushing out your nasal cavity with a saline solution. This is a home remedy that is relatively less known in Western countries, but is common in parts of India and South Asia. You can use a neti pot daily to flush mucus, bacteria, and allergens out of your nasal cavity, but it is important to follow the proper cleaning technique for the neti pot and use only water that has been sterilized, distilled, or boiled and cooled.

Steps

Part 1 Cleaning Your Neti Pot

  1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean your neti pot. Before you use your neti pot, read through any instructions that came along with it to see what type of cleaning process is recommended. You can clean most neti pots with soap and warm water, but check to ensure that this is what is recommended for your neti pot.[1]

    Warning: Most neti pots are not dishwasher safe, so do not put your neti pot in the dishwasher unless the instructions specifically say it is okay to do so.

  2. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 2 Wash your neti pot with dish soap and hot water before the first use. Add a few drops of dish soap to the neti pot and then fill it with hot water. Swish the soapy water around so that it cleans all surfaces of the neti pot. Then, pour out the soapy water and rinse the neti pot thoroughly.[2]
    • Rinse the neti pot 6 or 7 times to ensure that you have removed all of the soap residue.
  3. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 3 Let the neti pot air dry or wipe the inside with a clean paper towel. The neti pot should be completely dry before you use it for the first time. Place the neti pot upside down on a clean towel or use a clean paper towel to dry the inside of the pot.[3]
    • Do not wipe out the inside of the neti pot with a used dish towel. Also, do not place it right side up to dry. It might collect dust or get dirty if you let it air dry this way.

Part 2 Making a Saline Solution

  1. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 4 Wash and dry your hands to avoid contaminating the neti pot. Hold your hands under warm running water to wet them. Then, add about 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of liquid hand soap or rub your hands around a soap bar for a few seconds to lather up your hands. Rub the soap between your hands, into your fingertips, and around your fingernails. Then, hold your hands under warm, running water again to rinse away the soap. Dry your hands completely using a clean cloth or paper towel.[4]
    • It takes about 20 seconds to thoroughly wash your hands. To time yourself, hum the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself 2 times.[5]
  2. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 5 Measure out 32 fl oz (950 mL) of sterilized, distilled, or boiled water. To ensure that the water is safe to put into your nasal cavity, only use water that has been distilled, sterilized, or boiled and cooled. Pour the water into a clean glass container, such as a jar or a bowl.[6]
    • You can purchase sterilized or distilled water at a grocery or drug store. Or, bring tap water to a boil and let it boil for about 5 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and let the water cool to room temperature.

    Warning: Do not use untreated tap water as it can contain bacteria and amoebas, which can make you very sick if they enter your nasal passages.[7]

  3. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 6 Mix 2 teaspoons (11 g) of finely ground non-iodized salt with the water. Choose sea salt or kosher salt that has not had iodine added to it. Measure out the salt and pour it into the container with the water.[8]
    • Do not use normal table salt. The additives in it can irritate your nose.
    • You can also purchase saline solution if you do not want to make your own. Check your local drug store for saline solution that is meant for use with neti pots.
  4. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 7 Stir until the salt is dissolved and wait for the solution to cool. Use a clean metal spoon to stir the salt into the water. Keep stirring until the salt is completely dissolved. Once the solution looks clear and has cooled to room temperature, it is ready to use.[9]
    • Place a lid on the container if you do not plan to use the solution right away. However, be sure to use the solution within 24 hours. Discard any unused solution at that point since bacteria may begin to grow in it.

Part 3 Rinsing Your Nasal Passages

  1. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 8 Fill the neti pot with the saline solution. The first step is to transfer the saline solution from the container to the neti pot. Pour it carefully to avoid spills and make sure it's not so warm that it will cause discomfort or burns.
  2. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 9 Lean over a sink with your neck straight and turn your head to 1 side. Bend over the sink so that your upper body is at a 45-degree angle to your lower body. Then, turn your head to the side so that your ear is facing the sink. Keep your forehead at the same height as the chin, or slightly higher.[10]
    • Do not turn your head so far that your chin goes past your shoulder.
    • Do not bend over so far that your chin is below your forehead.
  3. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 10 Breathe through your mouth while you are rinsing your nasal cavity. You won’t be able to breathe through your nose while you are rinsing out your sinuses with the neti pot, so start breathing through your mouth. Take a few breaths to get used to it.[11]
    • Avoid talking or laughing so that the seal in your throat is not broken, allowing water in.
  4. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 11 Pour half of the water into your upper nostril. Press the spout against the inside of your nostril to form a seal. This will prevent water from flowing back out the same way it goes in. Raise the pot so the saline solution flows into the upper nostril and out of the lower nostril. This may feel a bit strange, like getting water up your nose while swimming. Empty ½ of the pot into your first nostril.[12]
    • The solution should pour out of your lower nostril and flow into the sink. If the water is splashing you, then lower yourself down closer to the sink.
    • If the solution drains out of your mouth, lower your forehead slightly, but make sure to keep it above your chin.
  5. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 12 Repeat the process on the other side to rinse the other nostril. Remove the neti pot from your nostril when you finish rinsing the first side. Then, turn your head in the opposite direction and repeat the same process. Use the other half of the saline solution to clear out your other nostril.[13]

    Tip: Even if you only feel like 1 nostril is clogged, rinse both sides. This will help to ensure that you get the most benefit from using your neti pot.

  6. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 13 Blow air through your nose to remove excess water. After you’ve drained the entire neti pot, keep your head over the sink and gently blow air out of your nose without using your fingers to pinch it. This will help to remove the excess water and some mucus as well.[14]
    • Do this until most of the dripping has subsided and you can breathe relatively easily again.
  7. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 14 Blow your nose gently into a tissue. After fluid stops dripping freely from your nose into the sink, remove the rest of the water and completely clear your nose by blowing it into a tissue as you normally would. Apply gentle pressure to 1 side of your nostril as you blow into the tissue, then repeat on the other side. Be sure not to close off either nostril while blowing.[15]
    • Don’t blow too hard! Blow gently just as you normally would.
  8. Image titled Use a Neti Pot Step 15 Clean your neti pot after you are finished using it. To prevent bacteria growth in and on your neti pot, give it a final wash before putting it away for storage. Use warm soap and water and allow the pot to air dry just as you did before.[16]
    • Store your neti pot in a cupboard or drawer to keep it clean and dust-free until the next time you use it.

Warnings

  • Never use tap water in a neti pot! Bacteria and amoebas may be present in tap water, which can grow in your nasal cavity and make you very ill.[17]

Things You'll Need

  • Neti pot
  • Non-iodized salt which is free of anti-caking and free-flowing agents, or commercially available neti pot salt
  • Distilled, boiled and cooled, or filtered water

References

  1. ↑ https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm
  2. ↑ https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm
  3. ↑ https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/expert-answers/neti-pot-solution/faq-20058402
  4. ↑ https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm
  5. ↑ https://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/index.html
  6. ↑ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323842.php
  7. ↑ https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm
  8. ↑ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323842.php
  9. ↑ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323842.php
  10. ↑ https://cdn.himalayaninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/about-press-netipot-safetyguide.pdf
  11. ↑ https://cdn.himalayaninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/about-press-netipot-safetyguide.pdf
  12. ↑ https://cdn.himalayaninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/about-press-netipot-safetyguide.pdf
  13. ↑ https://cdn.himalayaninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/about-press-netipot-safetyguide.pdf
  14. ↑ https://cdn.himalayaninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/about-press-netipot-safetyguide.pdf
  15. ↑ https://cdn.himalayaninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/about-press-netipot-safetyguide.pdf
  16. ↑ https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/expert-answers/neti-pot-solution/faq-20058402
  17. ↑ https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm

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Article SummaryX

To use a neti pot, start by mixing 2 teaspoons of non-iodized salt with 32 fluid ounces of distilled or sterilized water to make a saline solution. Then, pour the solution into your neti pot, and lean over a sink with your head turned to one side. Next, pour half of the solution into your upper nostril so it pours out of your lower nostril. Finally, repeat with your other nostril, and blow out your nose when you're finished to remove excess water. For more tips from our Medical co-author, like how to clean a neti pot, read on!

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Original Article

How to Use a Neti Pot
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