Neti Pots: What Are They and How Do I Use Them Correctly?

Using a neti pot can provide instant relief if you are experiencing congestion, allergies, or suffering from a cold. Here's how to use one and how to get the best benefit from it.
Neti pot

If you have been struggling with chronic allergies, you might have had a doctor recommend a device called the neti pot. 

Neti pots might look strange or intimidating to those who have never used them, but once you learn how to use the neti pot and start seeing its benefits, you will likely integrate it into your regular routine. 

In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the neti pot and how you can use it to treat sinus issues. 

What is a neti pot?

A neti pot is a device used to rinse your nasal passages. Nasal washing is actually an ancient practice that has been around for more than 5,000 years. 

The neti pot wasn’t popularized in the west as a nasal washing product until 1972. 

Nowadays, neti pots are easy to find, and you can typically buy one at any pharmacy. This device provides a great way to treat allergies or illnesses that result in inflammation and drainage build-up in your nasal passageways. 

How do you use one?

kettle on the stove boiling water

Neti pots are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, which is great news because it means they are extremely accessible. It can be a little nerve-wracking to use a neti pot for the first time, but once you get the hang of it, you will quickly see the benefits of engaging in this simple practice.

After you acquire your neti pot, the first thing you will want to do is create your saline solution. Many neti pots come with packets of salt and instructions on mixing your saltwater solution. 

Tap water that has been passed through a filter with a pore size of 1 micron or smaller can be used in creating your saline solution. If you aren’t sure about the filtering of your water, make sure to use distilled or sterilized bottled water. Or you could even boil water and then let it cool before using. It is essential that the water you use is clean and sterile. 

On the note of boiling water . . . you want the water used in your neti pot to be lukewarm, so if you’ve boiled it, you must let it cool. You don’t want to burn the inside of your nasal passages!

It is important to do your nasal rinsing directly over the sink in order to avoid making a mess. 

Here are the steps to take:

  1. Tilt your head sideways and place the spout of your neti pot into the upper nostril. 
  2. Pour the saline solution into your upper nostril. The liquid will pass through your nasal passage and drain through the lower nostril. 
  3. You should do this on both sides to make sure you have adequately rinsed your nasal passages. 

It is important to not tilt your head backward during this process. You want the liquid to run from one nostril to the other, not back into your throat. 

You also want to ensure you wash your neti pot after each use. It’s important to keep things sterile so that you don’t introduce any unwanted bacteria to your nasal passage. 

What are the benefits?

Using a neti pot can provide instant relief if you are experiencing congestion, allergies, or suffering from a cold. It can also help with dryness if your air lacks humidity. 

Many people prefer to use a neti pot first for relief before opting for medication in order to minimize their dependency on medications for sinus relief. 

Additionally, it can be used in conjunction with medication for additional relief if your sinus medicine does not completely relieve your symptoms. 

Are there risks associated with using a neti pot?

woman blowing her nose

Neti pots are an ancient and natural way to clear the sinuses, and generally are safe to use. However, sometimes people do experience adverse side effects with the neti pot. The most common negative side effect is nasal irritation or a stinging feeling. In very rare cases, the use of the neti pot can result in nose bleeds. 

Typically these side effects can be solved by changing how you use your neti pot. You might be using too much salt, using the neti pot too frequently, or using water that is too hot. Another potential cause of neti pot-related issues can come from using water that has not been adequately sterilized. You want to opt for water that has either been boiled (and has now cooled) or has been distilled and sterilized.

Finally, you also want to ensure that you are keeping the pot itself sterile. It won’t do you much good to use sterile water if your neti pot is full of bacteria! You can use a gentle dish soap to wash your neti pot by hand between uses or put it in the dishwasher if it is dishwasher safe. You also want to ensure that you dry it between each washing so that bacteria doesn’t have the chance to grow in the interior chamber. 

Neti Pots for Home Use

Rite Aid Neti Pot Nasal Rinse Kit
Rite Aid Neti Pot Nasal Rinse Kit, $11.99
SinuCleanse Soft Tip Neti-Pot, $9.99
Navage Nasal Care Starter Bundle
Navage Nasal Care Starter Bundle, $99.88

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