How to Use a Neti Pot

What is a neti pot?

A neti pot looks like a small genie lamp or teapot. It's used to hold salt water (saline solution) that is poured into one nostril and allowed to drain out of the other nostril. This technique may help with sinus symptoms. It can clear out your nasal passages, reduce swelling, and help your natural defenses work better.

Neti pots are safe for kids and pregnant women. They usually cost less than $20. The most common side effects are burning or stinging in the nose.

How do I make the saline solution?

You can buy pre-mixed packets of salt to add to water, or you can make your own salt mixture at home. Here is a commonly used recipe:

  • 1 teaspoon of un-iodized salt (canning, kosher, pickling, or sea salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Do not give your young child medicine that's supposed to be used in older children or adults.
  • 2 to 3 cups (480 mL to 720 mL) of lukewarm tap water (some experts recommend boiling and cooling tap water to kill any germs). Others recommend sterile or purified bottled water.

Just mix these ingredients together and use them to fill your neti pot. Doubling the amount of salt to two teaspoons will make a stronger saline solution. Be sure to mix a fresh solution before each use.

How do I use the neti pot?*

After you have filled your neti pot with the saline solution, follow these steps:

  1. Lean directly over a sink.
  2. Rotate your head so that one ear is facing the sink and one ear is facing toward the ceiling.
  3. Gently insert the tip of the neti pot's spout into your top nostril, so that a seal is formed.
  4. Tip the neti pot up so that the salt water enters your top nostril. (You will need to breathe through your mouth).
  5. The solution will begin to drain out of your other nostril.
  6. Once the pot is empty, stand up straight, breathe out of both nostrils, and blow your nose into a tissue.
  7. Refill the pot and repeat these steps for the other nostril.
  8. *A video showing how to use a neti pot is also available at WebMD.

Instead of standing over the sink, some people like to use the neti pot in the shower.

If you experience stinging or burning, reduce the amount of salt from one teaspoon to one half teaspoon, or try adjusting the temperature of the water slightly. Don't use cold water or hot water .

It's important to clean your neti pot after each use. Wash it with hot, soapy water and allow it to air dry.

If you are also using a nasal steroid spray, use it after you use the neti pot.

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