Logo NHC

Nasal Rinse Guide, Tips, and How To


Using a nasal rinse solution is often key to finding temporary relief from occasional congestion, seasonal challenges, and symptoms associated with the common cold. Some people even use a nasal rinse as part of a normal hygiene regimen.

You can make nasal rinse solution at home or buy a product already formulated with ingredients to provide the relief you want. No matter which route you take, there are a few things you’ll need to know.

The What, Why, and How of Nasal Rinsing

The What

Nasal rinsing, sometimes referred to as nasal irrigation or a saline rinse, uses a device such as a neti pot or funnel-like device to pour a sterile solution into one nostril so it flows through the sinuses and drains out of the other nostril.  Some people use squeeze bottles or similar devices, which may work for you, but aren’t always recommended as they sometimes fail to enter or properly flush the sinuses.

If you want to make a saline solution at home follow this simple recipe:

  1. Boil 1 cup of distilled water then cool it to room temperature (cold water will create a brain freeze sensation)
  2. Add up to 3 teaspoons of non-iodized salt (kosher or organic salt is best)
  3. Add up to 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  4. Mix and fill bulb syringe, neti pot, or pouring device of choice

If this solution stings the nose, use less salt. You can store any leftover saline solution in a clean, airtight container. Never reuse the saline solution as this can spread infections.

The Why

You breathe in a lot of dust, pollution, and microorganisms that get caught in the mucus and fine hairs located inside the sinus cavity. Now, you may be able to blow your nose and nothing comes out, but that doesn’t mean these things aren’t in there.

A lot of times none of the stuff that gets into our nose affects us. But if we inhale something nasty from a coworker or spend time outdoors at the wrong time of year, we sometimes end up with feelings of discomfort, fullness around the face, a runny nose, or other ailments.

So a nasal rinse seeks to help the body to clean out anything bothersome and potentially provide, if only temporarily, feelings of comfort or relief.

If a nasal rinse looks intimidating or you remember the bad feeling of inhaling sea water at the beach, you might feel like it isn’t for you. But with a few tries most people become experts and feel comfortable enough to do it up to twice daily.

The How

Use the following steps as a basic guideline when nasal rinsing. Some people get better results with different head positions and speed at which they pour the solution through the nose.

  1. Hold your head forward; do not lean back or water will enter your mouth and pour down the throat.
  2. Prepare to hold you breathe; if you inhale any water you should expect a lot of discomfort in your chest and heavy coughing; some people do breathe through the mouth.
  3. Stay near the sink or any large basin with a drain and have a towel nearby.
  4. Bring the device to your nose and tilt it to the side so it fills the nostril; if done the right way it will drain out of the other nostril.
  5. Continue pouring so the flow is fast and steady and the volume of water is enough to wash away anything in the sinuses
  6. Spit out anything that entered the mouth or throat, blow your nose, and thoroughly disinfect everything.

Yes, it feels weird at first, and you may feel surprised by what comes out. You can do this up to twice daily if needed. Some people can tolerate a nasal rinse every day, but others find it too excessive and uncomfortable.

A Word of Warning

If you feel pain or discomfort, stop and consult with a healthcare professional. Additionally, a nasal rinse should not be used to treat infections, chronic diseases, or other medical conditions.

Common side effects of using a nasal rinse include increased frequency and severity of nosebleeds and clogged ears. Reports also suggest that long-term nasal rinse use can unbalance the sinuses and increase the frequency of problems or result in new conditions.

If using a pressure device, such as a bulb or syringe, only insert the device no more than half the length of the fingertip, and be wary of how much pressure you apply when squeezing – always following manufacturer guidelines.

Neti pots are generally recommended because they more gently pour through the nose and provide positive ease of use and overall comfort.

Nasal Rinse Products

NHC’s Pick

The Net Pot Starter Kit w/ French Atlantic Sea Salt is the perfect all-in-one kit to makes nasal rinsing comfortable and easy. You get a lead-free ceramic neti pot, a sea salt mixture harvested from an unpolluted environment, and an easy to follow instruction card.

Salt Refills and Sinus Rejuvenation Oil

When you need a place to store your salt, this colorful Ceramic Jar with Wooden Spoon and 6 ounces of clean sea salt is a perfect match for your ceramic neti pot. Choose from blue, jade, and pearl colors.

If you love the feeling of a nasal rinse but hate running out of salt, then stock up on a few bags of the 10 Oz Neti Pot Salt Bag refill that comes with pharmaceutical grade, non-iodized salt.

After your nasal rinse, try using Dry Nose Oil or Sinus Rejuvenation Oil for additional feelings of comfort. Find even more sinus cleansing options here.