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I always prefer natural remedies at home for cold and flu symptoms if possible. We use a neti pot daily when cold and flu season comes around and it makes a huge difference! This ancient nasal wash technique is incredibly beneficial and can give natural relief for colds, allergies, dryness, and more.
I promise it doesn’t feel as weird as you might think and even feels refreshing! In this post, we’ll go over the benefits of a neti pot and how to use one safely (even for kids).
What Is a Neti Pot?
The neti pot was developed in ancient India as an ayurvedic remedy for congestion. It is a container (looks like a cute teapot) that can be used to clear the sinuses. It’s filled with a saltwater solution and run through the nostrils to clear out nasal passages.
Don’t worry — it’s not as bad as it sounds! Once you try it, you’ll want to do it again and again. It’s like a refreshing bath or shower for your sinuses.
Are Neti Pots Safe?
When used correctly, neti pots are a perfectly safe way to irrigate the nasal passages. What’s important to remember is that you must use sterile water so you don’t introduce pathogens into the nasal passages.
- Distilled water or sterile water you buy at the grocery store is one option.
- Another possibility is to use filtered water and then boil and cool it. The filter must remove anything larger than 1 micron. The water filter I use and love fits this description.
Neti Pot Benefits: Do They Work?
Neti pots are a great way to relieve congestion in the sinuses. A 2016 study discovered that nasal irrigation reduced sinus symptoms. It also helped reduce sinus headaches, over-the-counter medication use, and doctor’s visits.
Neti pots clear out the sinuses and nasal passages by irrigating them with saltwater. It works similarly to a saline nose spray but does a much more thorough job of removing gunk. Here are the benefits of using a neti pot:
- Removes excess mucous in the nose
- Helps with upper respiratory infections
- Clears the nasal passages to allow better breathing (may help with snoring too)
- Clears away pollen or allergens in nasal passages
- Helps with cold symptoms
- Can help with nasal dryness
- Helps with pregnancy-related sinus issues
I personally find that using a neti pot helps with congestion, especially if I do it before or after an herbal facial steam.
Neti pots are also great for washing away allergens hanging out in your nose, just waiting to cause a problem. I double up my neti pot use in allergy season, along with these other natural allergy remedies.
How to Use a Neti Pot
Basically, a neti pot will use gravity to draw salt water through the nasal passages. Using a neti pot to irrigate the sinuses is fairly simple:
- Mix your saltwater solution. Add ½ teaspoon of pure sea salt into 8 oz of sterile water. You can also add up to ¼ teaspoon of baking soda (to make the mixture easier on the nasal passages).
- Add the saltwater solution to a clean neti pot (room temperature water works best).
- Tilt your head sideways over the sink.
- Insert the spout of the neti pot into the top nostril and begin to pour. The water will come out of the bottom nostril as it irrigates the passages. Stop when you’ve used about half of the solution.
- Repeat on the other side with the remainder of the solution.
- Wipe or blow your nose if needed.
- Thoroughly wash (with sterile water) and dry after use.
Nasal irrigation can be done daily (before bed is a good time to do it). However, if using a neti pot daily leaves your nasal passages more dried out, reduce use to once a week.
Using a neti pot may sound weird, but I promise it doesn’t hurt and even feels good!
How to Get Kids to Use a Neti Pot
If your child is adventurous and willing to give it a try, they may end up loving the neti pot. Not only will it give them results, but it’s cool to have water spray out of your nose! I like this neti pot for kids because it’s the right size for small hands and nostrils.
But for more squeamish kids who aren’t ready to try a neti pot, you may need to do a bit more work. Start by showing them how you use yours and explain how it works to help you breathe better. You may want to start with a gentle nasal wash made for kids. This product is similar to a neti pot but uses slight pressure to clear the water through the sinuses, making it a quicker process. Just note that you will likely need to replace it often.
Once they get used to it, you can introduce the neti pot.
FAQs About Neti Pot Benefits & Use
If you’re new to neti pots you may have some questions. Here are the most common ones:
Is It Messy?
It can be messy, which is why using a neti pot over the sink is important. But once you get the hang of it, you probably won’t have any issues with water getting on your clothes or splashing on the counter.
Will I Be Able to Breathe?
You won’t be able to use your nose to breathe while you are using the neti pot. But you can still breathe through your mouth.
Is It Really Important to Use Sterile Water?
While complications are very rare with using unsterile water in a neti pot, I recommend being on the safe side and always using sterile water. I also recommend being very careful to clean the neti pot and your hands well after use. Always air dry the neti pot between uses.
Do I Need My Own Neti Pot?
Yes. Neti pots should not be shared as they are a personal hygiene item. They are relatively inexpensive, so it’s easy to get each family member their own neti pot.
What Age Should My Kids Start Using Neti Pots?
Neti pots are not recommended for infants. I would only use a neti pot on a child who was old enough to understand what they were going to experience. I would also never use a neti pot on a child that was scared or refusing it.
Where to Find a Good Neti Pot
You can find neti pots at most pharmacies or drug stores, though many of them will be plastic.
- A simple white ceramic neti pot (with salt) from Ancient Secrets, pictured above
- We have one of these colorful stoneware neti pots and it’s beautiful, made in the USA, non-plastic, and lead-free.
- For a non-breakable but plastic option (because let’s face it, kids!) try this neti pot made for kid-sized nostrils.
If you aren’t ready to try a neti pot, a saline spray can provide many neti pot benefits. We love Genexa’s saline spray because it’s gentle and natural.
Why Not a Neti Pot?
There’s really no downside to trying a neti pot if your sinuses are congested. There aren’t any side effects when done the right way. I keep my neti pot available throughout the year to help with seasonal congestion, colds, and anything else that makes me feel stuffy.
This article was medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, a board-certified family physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Have you tried using a neti pot? What was your experience?
- Rabago, D., Hayer, S., & Zgierska, A. (2009). Nasal Irrigation for Upper Respiratory Conditions. Integrative Medicine. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-323-35868-2.00113-4
- Little, P., Stuart, B., Mullee, M., Thomas, T., Johnson, S., Leydon, G., … Moore, M. (2016). Effectiveness of steam inhalation and nasal irrigation for chronic or recurrent sinus symptoms in primary care: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 188(13), 940–949. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.160362