Are Your Sinuses or Allergies Flaring Up? Try a Neti Pot for Relief—Here's How to Properly Use It

Doctors share the ins and outs of using this device to clear your nasal passages.

woman using tissue for nasal allergies

Whether you're battling seasonal allergies or general sinus pressure, you probably have one goal: finding relief. While there are many home remedies you can try, a neti pot is a helpful device that stands the test of time, according to doctors.

The neti pot is a tool you can use at home to wash away irritants (like mucus or allergens) from your nasal passages. If you're struggling to find relief when allergy season kicks in, follow these expert-approved steps to use the neti pot effectively.

What Is a Neti Pot?

A neti pot is a nasal irrigation device that washes out your sinuses, says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network. "It initially got its name because some are shaped like a teapot, but many are just a plastic bottle," she says. "The idea is you squirt saltwater into one nostril and allow it to come out of the other side."

The purpose of this device is to clear out built-up mucus and allergens trapped inside your nasal passages. "A saline solution is preferred instead of just water because it helps prevent irritation of your nasal passages," says John M. James, MD, medical specialist and spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. "You may want to use a neti pot for sinus infections, nasal congestion, allergies, or colds (for example, viral upper respiratory tract infections)."

When to Use a Neti Pot

Use a neti pot one to two times a day as needed to help clear the nasal passageways of mucus and inflammation secondary to allergies, sinus infections, environmental irritants (for example, pollution or passive tobacco smoke), and viral upper respiratory infections, says Dr. James. "There is no specific time of day to use a neti pot," he says. "If your issues or symptoms continue after a few days, contact your healthcare provider for guidance about what should be done."

Types of Neti Pots

There are several types of neti pots with slightly different forms on the market, but all treat sinus and allergy issues.

Standard Model

The standard version of the neti pot, which looks like an actual pot (like this model), relies entirely on gravity to force the flow of the saline solution through the nasal passages, says Dr. James.

Squeeze Bottle

A popular option on the market is the squeeze bottle neti pot, says Dr. James. "This version gives the user a firmer flow of the saline solution through the nasal passages," he says.


There is also an automatic neti pot that uses suction to regulate the flow of the solution through the nasal passages. "These are easier to use, but they can be expensive and require a bit more upkeep for cleanliness," says Dr. James.

How to Use a Neti Pot

While most neti pots come with saline solution packets, you can also make your own rinse.Combine 3 teaspoons of iodide-free salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and one 1 cup of lukewarm distilled or bottled water, says Dr. James. Make sure to use the right balance of ingredients; too little or too much salt could cause irritation to your nasal passage.

Follow Dr. James' tips to properly use a neti pot:

  1. Combine warm or room temperature water with the salt package or the homemade saline solution and pour it in your neti pot.
  2. Position yourself over a sink or bowl to prevent a mess.
  3. Place the tip of the spout inside one nostril, creating a seal.
  4. Tilt your head forward, looking down at the sink or bowl, and lift the neti pot at an angle, sending the saline solution into your nasal passage. Gravity carries the solution through your nasal cavity and out of your other nostril.
  5. Allow the solution and any excess mucus to drip out from your nostril, blowing your nose to clear the nasal passage.
  6. Repeat for your other nostril.

Benefits of Neti Pots

Using a neti pot has several advantages, including soothing your sinus issues and allergies. "Neti pot benefits include fully rinsing your nasal passages, removing backed-up mucus, limiting congestion, improving breathing, and relieving sinus pressure," says Dr. James. "Neti pots are safe and effective if they are used correctly."

Cons of Neti Pots

Practice caution when using a neti pot to prevent potential health concerns, doctors say. "With that said, it is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider about the best course of action and if a neti pot is a good choice for you," says Dr. James.

Health Conditions

Those with specific health conditions should avoid using a neti pot. "Diabetics and immunocompromised individuals should be cautious about neti pot use, as mucor (mold) sinusitis infections have occurred," says Dr. Parikh.

Water Use

Only distilled or sterile water should be used in neti pots, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If you use unfiltered water, "bacteria and amoebas can get into your sinuses and even brain and cause serious infections," says Dr. Parikh.

You can use tap water, but it should be boiled for three to five minutes and then cooled until it is lukewarm, the USDA says. The boiled water can be stored in a clean, closed container for use within 24 hours.

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