How to Use a Neti Pot for Congestion, Allergies & More

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » How to Use a Neti Pot for Congestion, Allergies & More

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:

  1. 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).
  2. Add the saltwater solution to a clean neti pot (room temperature water works best).
  3. Tilt your head sideways over the sink.
  4. 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.
  5. Repeat on the other side with the remainder of the solution.
  6. Wipe or blow your nose if needed.
  7. 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.

If you aren’t ready to try a neti pot, a saline spray can provide many neti pot benefits.

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?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


8 responses to “How to Use a Neti Pot for Congestion, Allergies & More”

  1. Teresa munroe Avatar
    Teresa munroe

    What is your opinion of the navage ? I’ve been dealing w health issues and used a npot daily. I agree it is an important step in cleanliness and found it such a help w allergies. And then I developed vertigo. No clue if it was related to the npot but am hesitant to go back to those head tilt motions as I don’t want to trigger anything. Switched to a bulb but don’t think it does as good a job. Any opinion would help me mentally sort this out. Thanks.

  2. Jenny Avatar

    These last 2-3 months, I started using a neti pot for the first time. I was getting really bad air quality migraines from the surrounding fires. It brought the first relief I’d had in weeks. But after a while, I got some pressure in one of my ears that won’t go away. And now when I use the neti pot, it’s a bit tender on that side for a while. What could I be doing wrong?

    1. Deborah Avatar

      it’s one year later. Did you find the cause for sure? I guess it may have been water quality related. Am I right?

  3. Naomi Avatar

    How do you prevent the salt water from trickling down your throat? My husband loves his neti pot but every time I use one I feel like I’m drowning.

    1. Deborah Avatar

      Lean a bit forward over the sink. Gravity will drain it out of the other nostril.

  4. Jenna Avatar

    I don’t love to use my neti pot, but I do love what it does for me. I used to have sinus infections several times a year, but haven’t had one in the 6 or so years that I’ve had the neti pot. I don’t use it regularly, but I do use it at the first sign of cold or sickness symptoms (a runny nose, earache, sore throat, etc.) and have rarely had colds last more than a day or two. It’s a must have item for me!

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