Using a neti pot is a cheap, easy way to naturally cleanse and protect your nasal passages. It helps alleviate the symptoms of allergies and sinus congestion.
Fellow allergy and sinus sufferers, this little teapot will be your new BFF!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from allergies and their pesky symptoms: congestion, sinus pressure, postnasal drip, chronic sinus infections, you name it! For 6 months of the year, allergy medication and a pack of tissues became staple sidekicks.
One day after taking a yoga class and sneezing for the tenth time during the shavasana (the silent final resting pose), the instructor approached me and asked if I’d ever heard of a neti pot. Puzzled, I asked her, “A neti WHAT?” That was the day I was introduced to one of the most glorious natural remedies I’ve ever encountered.
To this day, I swear by its magical powers and its ability to give natural relief for colds, congestion, allergies, sinus pressure, and more. I was especially grateful for this ancient, awesome little tool (alongside this powerful cold/flu tea) while pregnant, because it was a natural way to keep my congestion and sinus infections at bay.
What is a neti pot?
The neti pot is a small pot-shaped container (it looks like an adorable little teapot) that is used to flush out your sinus passages and alleviate sinus and allergy symptoms. It was developed in ancient India and is the oldest form of nasal irrigation used in Ayurvedic medicine, dating back thousands of years.
What does it do?
This cute little pot is filled with a warm, saltwater solution. The saline solution helps naturally loosen, break up and flush out mucus and debris from the nasal passage.
When you rinse out the irritants (whatever particles are irritating the tissue) you remove the trigger that’s exacerbating the symptoms. Because the solution thins the mucus, it also helps minimize postnasal drip. Win, win!
The saline solution, when used correctly, is very soothing for your delicate sinus system. Hello, RELIEF!
- Removes excess mucus from the nose, helping to minimize postnasal drip
- Clears irritants such as dust, animal dander, grass, and pollen from the nose, helping to minimize nasal allergies
- Helps alleviate upper respiratory and sinus infections
- Clears the nasal passage, helping to prevent/eliminate congestion, sinus headaches, pain, and pressure
- Helps with nasal dryness
- Alleviates, in a natural way, sinus issues and nasal symptoms from the cold and flu while pregnant
Ceramic neti pots versus plastic
There are a plethora of neti pots out there on the market. The two most common are ceramic neti pots and ones that resemble a plastic squeeze bottle.
Ceramic neti pot: Ceramic neti pots use gravity to irrigate your nasal and sinus passages as you pour the warm saline solution into one nostril. These are the ones that resemble a dainty little teapot.
Plastic squeeze bottle: This method delivers the nasal irrigation experience with gentle pressure as you squeeze the solution through the spout.
Both types of neti pots achieve the same results by cleansing your nasal passages, so it’s a matter of personal preference.
We’ve found that for everyday use, we gravitate toward the ceramic pot because it’s easy to put in the dishwasher and clean. However, when we’re extremely congested, we reach for the plastic squeeze bottle because it allows us to adjust and use gentle pressure to help break down and remove the excess mucus.
Where to buy a neti pot
You can find neti pots online or at most pharmacies or drug stores (Walgreens, CVS), though most drugstores only carry plastic.
Our top picks:
- Ceramic: Himalayan Chandra Neti Pot Complete Sinus Cleansing (online)
- Plastic: Neil Med SinuFlo Ready Rinse (online/carried at most drug stores)
- Kid-friendly: Dr. Hana’s Nasopure Nasal Wash Little Squirt Kit (online)
If you’re purchasing a plastic neti pot, make sure that it’s BPA-free. BPA is an industrial chemical that is used in some plastics and can be harmful to humans when absorbed or ingested. Because your nasal passages have such delicate tissue, we recommend erring on the side of caution.
What type of sea salt should be used?
Use an iodine-free and preservative-free salt. We typically keep a small bottle of Himalayan pink salt (the same type of salt we cook with) in our medicine cabinet, next to our neti pot.
Can essential oils be added?
We’ve heard of some people adding essential oils to their neti pot’s saline solution. While there are no contraindications to doing this, we would suggest chatting with an aromatherapist or your healthcare provider before adding any oils to your neti pot.
What does it feel like?
The best way to describe how it feels the first time you use a neti pot is like diving into a wave at the beach without pinching your nose shut. It doesn’t hurt, but it certainly can feel awkward initially. We can assure you that after you see how much relief it brings you, you’ll instantly be hooked! Now that it’s something we use regularly, it’s a walk in the park!
How often can a neti pot be used?
Honestly, this depends on your situation. If it’s allergy season, you may want to use nasal irrigation daily. If not, you may only use it when you feel sinus and allergy symptoms arising. If using it daily leaves your nasal passages dried out, stick to using it weekly or whenever symptoms creep up.
When and where should I use my neti pot?
Your nasal passages are full of twists and turns, so you may have some residual drainage or dripping after using the neti pot. This usually happens when you lean forward within the first 15-20 minutes, so keep a tissue close by just in case. We try to use our neti pot throughout the day or about an hour before bed so that we don’t end up with water dripping our pillow. Any time works though!
To eliminate any mess, use your neti pot over the sink or in the shower.
Are neti pots safe?
Neti pots are generally considered safe when used correctly. Two important things to remember when using your neti pot:
- Use distilled or sterile water. While many doctors feel that any drinkable (filtered) tap water is safe to use, the FDA advises against it, stating that the water must be distilled/sterile or boiled (and then cooled) tap water so there is no threat of potentially infectious organisms being introduced into your nasal passages.
- Be sure to sanitize or thoroughly clean your neti pot between uses. An unclean neti pot can harbor bacteria and introduce it into the sinus cavity.
At what age can my kids start using a neti pot?
According to the FDA, neti pots are considered safe and effective for kids as young as 2, but it’s always good to check with your child’s pediatrician to make sure they’re on board. When it comes to children fighting off a cold or allergies, we love the neti pot because it allows them to clear their sinuses without the use of any medication. The biggest hurdle is convincing your kids to try it. They may be a little apprehensive and afraid at first, which is perfectly normal. You can show them a YouTube video of other kids using a neti pot.
How to introduce a child to a neti pot:
- Talk to them about how it will help relieve them of their congestion.
- Show them how you use it too. Irrigate both your nostrils so they can see it doesn’t hurt.
- Show them a YouTube video of other kids using it.
- Allow them to hold and examine it so they can come to their own conclusions about it.
- Let them pretend to use it to gain confidence.
- Fill it up and give it a try! You may want to do this outside (weather permitting) or have them lean over a large sink.
How to use a neti pot: Step-by-step instructions
- Fill your clean, dry neti pot with warm water. It should be warm enough to dissolve the salt but not hot enough to burn you. Add salt to the water and let it dissolve. We use about 1/2 teaspoon per 8 ounces of water. Too much salt and the solution may sting as it passes through your sinuses and too little minimizes its effectiveness. Swirl the water to help the salt dissolve.
- Next, lean over the sink (or do this in the shower!) and tilt your head slightly to one side. Place the spout of the neti pot snugly against the opening of the upward-facing nostril. Keeping your mouth open, tip the pot so the solution flows freely through your sinus cavity and out the other nostril. If you’re using a plastic squeeze bottle, gently squeeze the bottle to push the water through your nasal passage. Some of the solution may drain from your mouth. You may have to adjust the angle of your head so that the solution doesn’t run down your throat.
- Pour through one nostril. Refill the neti pot and switch to the other side. You may notice one nostril seems more backed up than the other. Repeat if necessary (depending on the severity of your congestion). If we have severe congestion, we typically do this 2x per side OR 2x per day.
- Blow your nose afterward and keep a tissue close by… sometimes you’ll have a trickle or two shortly after. Always clean your neti pot after use (we often run it through the dishwasher) and allow it to air dry.
How to use a plastic squeeze bottle sinus rinse: A quick video demonstration
Have you tried using a neti pot? Comment below with your experiences!