Introduction: How to Clean Your Sinuses

Picture of How to Clean Your Sinuses

You can clean your sinuses really effectively just using sterilized warm water, salt, and something called a Neti Pot. I have done it a few times now and I have to say that it really works and feels good.

Many people suffer from some kind of nasal irritation, be it mucus, allergies, an infection, sinus pain or even snoring. While a doctor may prescribe a steroid spray that costs a ton of money and never seems to work, there is a simpler and much more effective way to help your nose and nasal cavity. It's the ancient practice of nasal irrigation - The Neti Pot!

This is not an ad, it just happens to sound like one because I am excited about pouring salt water through my nose.

Step 1: Bennefits and Supplies

Picture of Bennefits and Supplies

Using a Neti Pot to clean your nose seems to have all different kinds of effects on people. I felt clean, open and free of mucus after I did it, but since I didn't really have any sever allergies or irritations to begin with I can't report on the validity of those kinds of results.

(I used it because who doesn't want to pour water through their nose and see what comes out???)

The Neti Pot is reported to have many benefits:

  • Removes mucus and pollution of the nasal passages and sinuses
  • Helps to prevent respiratory tract diseases
  • Daily use relieves allergies, colds and sinusitis
  • Cooling and soothing to the mind
  • Beneficial in the treatment of headaches and migraines
  • Alleviates anxiety, anger and depression
  • Removes drowsiness, making the head and sense organs feel light.

To use a Neti Pot all you need is:

  • The Neti Pot itself (You can get one for about 10 dollars at a drug or natural foods store. If you don't want to buy one look around the house because chances are, you already have something lying around that is perfect for sticking up your nose. Try a children's sippy cup or even a watering can with a narrow spout. Do you make gravy on Thanksgiving? The Neti Pot sure looks a lot like a fat drippings separator!)
  • Warm sterilized water
  • Non-iodized salt

Step 2: Prepare the Neti Pot

Picture of Prepare the Neti Pot

Making the Neti Pot solution, which is really just saline/salt water couldn't be much easier.

Put a cup or two of sterilized water into a pot and warm it up on the stove. You can start with distilled water from the store, or purified water from a test reliable source.

Once the water is warm, pour it into the Netti Pot and then grab your salt. Take about half a teaspoon of salt and put it into your water mixture. Stir it well.

Now you are ready to proceed. Find a sink, some privacy and read on.

Step 3: Insert the Neti Pot

Picture of Insert the Neti Pot

Insert the Netti Pot into one of your nostrils.

It's not brain surgery, but it does feel a little funny at first.

Tilt your head to the side, and down elevating the nostril with the Neti Pot in it and lowering the empty one.

Once you feel like you have a good angle for the water to pour through one nostril and out of the other, slowly begin to pour the salt water from the Neti Pot into your upper nostril.

Water will begin to fill your upper nostril, flow into your sinuses, and then work it's way out your empty nostril in a steady flow.

Step 4: Pour Saline Through Your Sinus Cavity

Picture of Pour Saline Through Your Sinus Cavity
Keep pouring water for about 10 seconds or so until you have got a good flow going and you feel the whole flow of the water going through your sinuses. Remember to breathe through your mouth - you won't choke.

The strange sensation may make you want to cough at first, but just stay with it, it becomes less awkward after the first second or two. Once you have done it once or twice it really is pretty easy and actually feels good!

As you come to the end, stop pouring the water through your sinuses and slowly bring your head upright again after all the water has drained out. Give some quick blows through your nose to clear things out and check out what's in the sink below. The first time I did this some big stuff came out, after that, I really have to much "nasal debris".

Take a second to compose yourself, refill your Neti Pot if you are running low on saline, and then switch nostrils and repeat the process. When you've finished pouring in the second nostril, blow air out through your nose in a few quick short breaths to clear out any water. You can also put your head down towards the ground to drain out any remaining water.

This is a video of me doing it for the first time ever - so I am a little surprised as to how it feels to pour water through my sinuses.

I don't think that it's possible to overdose on Neti Potting, so do it as often as you like. I know lots of people that do this as a preventative activity every day.

Enjoy your clean sinuses!


SherylinRM (author)2017-11-24

1/2 or one half teaspoon [real measurement of salt per 8 ounces or 250 ml of water gives you a solution of about 1% salt water which is close enough to the 0.9% recommended for the body.

Or one teaspoon per 2 cups which is 16 ounces or 500 ml.

Boil the water and let it cool to room temperature.

Make sure the neti pot is clean.

Use it.

Be intelligent and do not worry about nay sayers. People drowned doing this? Ok well they probably needed help tying their shows as well.

Singers have done this for many years.

Heck at one time [and some still do] they use to immerse their faces in a bowl of water and "breathe in" the water in their noses and then snort it out. That was done for thousands of years for actors and singers.

So this is super safe if your IQ is above room temperature.

ia42 (author)2016-02-14

It has it's pros and cons, but with the deadly infection and drowning risks, I think you should at least add a huge warning and disclaimer, since people HAVE died from doing this wrong.

Garthw1946 (author)ia422017-08-20

I can't follow the drowning theory. What EXACTLY did they do?

judy72649 (author)2016-02-12

As a Registered Nurse for the past 35 years, I can't recommend this. These have been shown to be very dangerous They are an excellent way to introduce many forms of infection quickly into the body. And, believe it or not, people have actually DROWNED from using these! Neti pots have been around for many years, so they are nothing new. I would certainly consult a physician before using one!

amclaussen (author)judy726492016-02-12

Judy: Thanks for the warnings. They apply for Not-Careful-Enough people.

But, for sensible, intelligent and CAREFUL people, like MOST of the Instructables readers, this practice can be straightforward. Maybe some people, like older ones, or people that are "clumsy", certainly can have problems, indeed.

But, as I said, Instructable's readers tend to be avobe average skilled people, like most "DIY" (Do-It-Yourself type of people). Maybe the best approachcould be to spend a reasonable amount of money going to a trained doctor, in order to actually see and undergo a proper cleaning procedure, AND THEN do it at home by carefully adhering to the strict measures already written here, like distilled or Reverse Osmosis-plus fully boiled water, a proper didinfectant, and properly salted saline solution that is ISOTONIC.

Maybe you could approve the recommended practice when ALL PRECAUTIONS ARE FOLLOWED TO THE LETTER.

Best Regards.

P.D.: I learned the proper way from an Oto-Laryngologist doctor, but keeping visitiing him resulted to be VERY expensive, (even reducing the frequency of the visits to a monthly visit, that was insufficient for my sinuses condition).

Another Strong Recommendation is in order: This cleaning should NOT be repeated Too Frequently. My own sinuses (altered by receiving a strong bump when playing Football at college) caused a deviation that makes me susceptible from frequent minor but almost permanent infections. Therefore, for me, the sinuses cleaning is the proper way to go. (And undergoing surgery is both risky and too Expensive for me). Respectfully, Amclaussen.

PhilipB25 (author)amclaussen2016-02-14

And have you noticed that the doctors almost ALWAYS suggest surgery instead of the homeopathic of the reasons I hardly EVER go to doctors...

Garthw1946 (author)PhilipB252017-08-20

If you ask a surgeon, he/she will recommend what he/she knows,---cut.

This is NOT the way to go.

psycophonic (author)2016-03-14

Why sterilised and distilled? I live in a soft(ish) water area. Tap water is good (only maybe slightly fluorinated), can I not just use some of that out of the warm tap???

MattD171 (author)psycophonic2016-12-28

No! If you use tap water, make sure you boil it to kill any bacteria. There have been a couple of cases of people getting life-threatening infections using tap water.

It seems like there are some parasites and amoebas that live in the water and could go directly to your brain by the nasal way so play safe and sterilize your water

perkinsb2 (author)2016-05-09

I think you can just use distilled water. I don't think kroger sells distilled sterilized water. Does CVS?

SherylinRM (author)2016-03-17

As a former singer we use to do this all the time. It really is helpful and has the side benefit of keeping colds and flu away as well.

Using a solution of one teaspoon per 2 cups, or 500 ml, gives you the correct ratio of salt to water. You can boil the water ahead of time and simply put it in the fridge until you want to use it.

ALWAYS make sure the water is between a low of room temperature to a high of 98.6 [body temperature] before using it.

This is also the formula for water when using a douche for us ladies.

Hence it is super safe for mucus membranes.

Non iodized salt is better than table salt.

Thanks for this :)

IlyasR1 (author)2016-03-09

is it painful or not?im afraid to try...

nehmo (author)2016-02-15

Don't let Dick Cheney or his predecessors see this. They'll employ it as an enhanced interrogation device.

cbjack (author)nehmo2016-02-24

Too funny, a little waterboarding never hurt anybody!

cbjack (author)2016-02-24

I used to have a pretty severe post nasal drip and clogged orbital sinuses, took Flonase for years! I took a yoga class, which also talked about various forms of cleansing and purification, discovered the neti pot and subsequently no more sinus headaches, no more post nasal drip and no more Flonase. I don't use it every day, but neti pot 2-3 times a week.

gsovell (author)2016-02-22

I've been doing this for over 20 years. It's easy to take to the shower with you.

I make a premix in bulk--

1 Gal Distilled Water

10 teaspoons Kosher Salt

4 teaspoons Baking Soda

I use a NEILMED bottle that has a tube on the inside. Seeing that warm water feels better the cold, I fill the bottle with my premix and "without black top" I microwave for 10-15 sec to bring to lukewarm (test on your hand to ensure you don't burn yourself as microwaves with different wattages will heat slower or faster). Put lid on and shake a few times.

RiversP (author)2016-02-11

Why is it called a Neti pot not a snot pot?

beamer.smith (author)RiversP2016-02-18

The Sanskrit word for nasal cleaning with water is jala neti, and that’s how the neti pot got its name.

dragon fllyer (author)2016-02-12

I think the neti pot looks gross and messy, and my neck would probably never straighten again... I was pretty skeptical about sinus rinsing, but after using the NeilMed sinus rinse bottle for a couple of years I don't feel clean otherwise any more! More importantly, I haven't had a bronchial infection for years either, which I used to several times a year and which my doctor attributed to post nasal drip. I use freshly boiled water with a half tsp of equal amounts mixed baking soda and sea salt. (Iodized salt stings like crazy...)

dragon flyer

Please say how much water you use with the half tsp each of baking soda

and sea salt. Thanks

Sorry - 300 ml of freshly boiled water, and equivalent of 1/4 tsp each of the baking soda and sea salt. (I mix up 1/2 cup of each in a container and then use 1/2 tsp of the mixture.)

dragon flyer

Please say how much water you use with the half tsp each of baking soda

and sea salt. Thanks

Verga (author)2016-02-17

Bought one and used it today. worked great sinuses have never been more clear. Thank you.

PhilipB25 (author)2016-02-14

Having had sinus infections every season change for about as long as I can remember, I've used the neti pot for YEARS....just follow the instructions TO THE LETTER (including using STERILIZED distilled water and non-iodized salt) and THOROUGHLY washing the pot out out after every use (and DON'T share it with other family members!!) and you should have few (if any) problems...

sysmex13. (author)PhilipB252016-02-17

So awesome you are using the neti pot! You might try Nasopure if you ever get the chance. Lots of my friends think it feels better

sysmex13. (author)2016-02-17

Cleaning your sinus's naturally is definitely the way to go! It ends up saving so much money on doctors fees and sick days AND I don't have to put so many chemicals in my nose! I use a product called Nasopure that's much more comfortable and easier to learn than the neti pot. I don't have to bend my neck and I get to control the pressure of the solution. It's so comfortable, it even has a smaller bottle for 2 year olds! Their website,, has a whole lot more information on this stuff and has a store locator that shows where you can buy it. Or you can just buy it off of their site!

marlene.cheladyn (author)2016-02-15

I use the netipot but my nose dries out. Doc suggested Rhinaris Nozoil after it drains and makes breathing so much better.

himan0110 (author)2016-02-15

This is great way or I say only natural way of cleaning sinuses. Out there nothing exists that cleans sinuses within a minute and that too effectively. I am suffering from ethmoidal sinusitis since birth and only thing that helps me is neti. I have given up on all medications and physicians.
I use a coke bottle with a nozzle that comes with all water bottle. I have to bend my head a bit more that's it. But it cleans even toughest of mucus.

setsunakaede (author)2016-02-13

Wow..., I am actually going to try this. I have blocked airways and headaches on a regular basis so if this helps...

You can actually also sterilize water by boiling it for a couple of minutes then let it cool down (with the lid on the pan of course..., otherwise all kinds of dust and bacteriae will enter on cooling down.

After you boil it and let it settle, pour it through a strainer into another container, just in case. You can also use a paper filter like the ones for American coffee machines.

VictorFreeze (author)2016-02-14

I've been doing this for years. I never used a Netipot. Never even knew it existed. I used to use a little stainless tea kettle. This process of cleaning out my sinuses has enabled me to avoid a major attack of the flu nearly every year. If I do get flu or cold-like symptoms, clearing out my sinuses with salt water significantly cuts the recovery time.

rexzietsman (author)2016-02-13

I have been sniffing brine up my nostrils for years. The pot with spout is a clever step up.

Can I make a suggestion: instead of only salt, try a mixture of 3 parts bicarbonate (sodium bicarb that you buy for cooking, etc) to two parts salt ie a little more bicarb than salt. You will find the impact on your nostrils to be a lot "softer" than with straight salt.

LenK (author)2016-02-13

I have been doing this for a few years, but primarily during our cold winters when the air in the house is very dry. I cut the end off of a nipple on a baby bottle, the kind with a screw on bottom, which allows me to control the water flow.

hondoco (author)2016-02-13

Be careful when you are Neti potting....on some people( including me), water can creep up into the upper areas of the sinuses under your eyes, and stay there, and not drain out properly. Check with your doctor as you use this method, to not cause infection trapped in your sinuses.

Myrian1 (author)2016-02-12

I don't understand why Iodized salt is bad. please explain!

cfuse (author)Myrian12016-02-12

The short answer: it burns like hell.

Sea salt costs about the same as iodised, and I've never had a problem using it with a neti pot. If you're phobic about these things then you can buy ion balanced saline from a chemist.

jstork1 (author)2016-02-12

I know this is going to sound gross. I use my water pic (for my teeth/gums) with the pressure wand taken off so there is a nice low pressure flow, through my nose and sinuses. I also wear ear plugs at night and sometimes get plugged ears. I use the water pic on the low setting with a warm, salt solution to gently flush out the ear canal. A fair bit of debris sometimes comes out (i only do the rinse every couple of months or so). A handy little machine.

AlexT18 (author)2016-02-12

I've been using Neti Pot for years, and I love it. It clears up sinus congestion, and clean the nostrils from allergens and mucous.

JohnnyC007 (author)2016-02-12

I used to get terrible sinus headaches, 3-4 percweek I always had a pack or two of ibuprofen in my pocket. I tried this a few years ago, after a couple of days all this brown crap came out one day, in the 5 years since I started using a neti pot I've had maybe 20 headaches and they weren't bad enough to need pills.

GergelyN (author)2016-02-11

This might be the most bizarre featured Instructables I have seen so far... I do not say it does not work, but still...

amclaussen (author)GergelyN2016-02-12

What could be considered "Bizarre" is keeping your affected sinuses full with all kind of bacteria, pollen, dust and old, congested secretions. I suggest you to find a properly trained doctor that knows how to properly do the procedure, undergo it and find if it helps you or not, and THEN you could follow all the proper recommendations in order to do it properly at home, then decide if it is still "Bizarre" or a helpful and tried method. Best Regards.

GergelyN (author)amclaussen2016-02-12

What I meant is that this is a method I have never heard of, and as such it was strange to see this picture in my Instructables newsletter. I never questioned it's usefullness, nor wanted I hurt anyone. I would argue about if anything that the majority of people do every day (i.e. not cleaning the inside of their noses with water) could be considered bizzarre, but this is not the place for it... But I thing a method can be "Bizzarre" AND a helpful and tried method.

Firstly, a useful article. Thanks.

I haven't seen 400+ comments on an instruct-able in a while.

Anyway, speaking of the water to be used, as others have mentioned it has to be boiled and cooled water.

Water straight from the tap or packaged drinking water wont do. For this method of sinus treatment at least. To be absolutely safe.


- All water sources contain virus, bacteria and protozoa.

- If your municipal supply combines chlorination with sand filtration, the protozoans would be eliminated.

- Since I haven't been to my town's water works to see what they do, boiling is the best known method of 100% protozoa elimination.

- The 2nd best way to get rid of the protozoa is UV light filtration.

- Virus and bacteria in our water supply are never eliminated completely. The best of treatment would bring them to "acceptable" human limits. Never zero.

- I don't remember the safe limit values right now. It should be easy enough to find elsewhere.

- You could be living in Howard Hughes' mansion or on a Moon mission, and the V and B in the water would always be within "acceptable" limits.

That's all folks!

Or no, not yet.

The nasal sprays are probably easier to use. You'll notice it can be highly addictive.

You'll be paying big pharma money for those sprays. And for what? Its not going to make you smarter or good looking. So why spend money?

This method isn't addictive at all. Its free.

Very sensible and useful comment, My method is to use a Reverse Osmosis small plant, installed under the fawcet in my kitchen. I perform the recommended filter and other replacement parts maintenance SOONER than specified, and FULLY BOIL the ultrafiltered water from the RO unit before ading Salt, NaHCO3 (Sodium Bicarbonate) for pH buffering and Colloidal silver drops (sold to disinfect vegetables for salads), warm the solution and use with a properly sterilized pot. Best Regards, Amclaussen.

RobF10 (author)2016-02-12

I saw the top picture and thought "That guy is filtering his tea wrong."

noahw (author)2016-02-12

I've updated the instructions. They now read that this process should be done with sterilized and distilled water. Thanks everyone for the feedback!

PDXHICKS (author)2016-02-12

Awesome post and prefect timing as it's still cold and flu season!
I'm currently suffering a sinus infection/flu and use my Neti pot 3 times a day. It helps SO MUCH! I can breath!!! I also feel a whole lot better than back when I wasn't using it.

Get over the "Neti-phobia" people! It may look awkward or just plain weird but don't let that stop you from trying it. You'll be glad you did, this really works! =D
It also helps to reduce the duration of the infection too, as it alters the environment in the sinuses that allow it to thrive and heals the sore tissue as it moisturizes the sinus membrane.

I remember reading that there was a parasite in the SE USA states that posed some health risk and water from that region is best boiled, but its the only thing I found back when I was first researching as to why we might need to boil the water or use other than tap water. It's rather rare that someone is affected, but better safe than sorry if you live in a warmer climate.

This is an amoeba that occurs in warmer waters in the southeastern US and elsewhere. We don't have it here in the cold waters of the Pacific NW, so tap water is what I always use along with the sodium mix in packets. Actually Bull Run water, which is the next best thing to right out of a mountain spring.

arpruss (author)PDXHICKS2016-02-12

There have indeed been deaths in the US from neti pot use and the amoeba:

zonarosso (author)2016-02-12

I have used various devices over the last 25 years to cure sinus infections. I've used the converted water pic unit and found it expensive and a pain to clean. I'm also not a fan of the pressure it develops. I now use a Neilmed low pressure/high volume bottle with a product called ALKALOL.I fill the bottle with DISTILLED water up to the fill line and then top it off with the Alkalol. I use 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. With cold DISTILLED water I microwave it for 13 seconds, shake it and mic it for another 13 seconds. Of course mic wattage etc, will change your results.When I see yellowish mucous after nose blowing I put 6-10 drops of Betadine (povidone iodine) in the mix. It kills the infection where it lives. Repeat 1-3 times a day until infection is gone. I suffered for many years and have taken every antibiotic known to man. I have not had a sinus infection (when the infection is not treated it gets into the lungs and that's really hard to treat) in many years. I had sinus surgery which removed the turbinates and cillia so I rinse 2 times a day all year long. I agree sterility is key. I wash the bottle after use every time with a few drops of dish liquid. Get the temperature of the water as close to body temp as you can to eliminate pain and balance the salt/baking soda to water ratio until it feels comfortable. With the bottle you do not have to turn your head like with a neti pot- just get your head horizontal to the floor looking down and use GENTLE pressure to get the solution to flow. After bottle is empty get the top of your head below your nose (like standing on your head) to allow the bottom sinus cavities to drain. I fold at the waist with a couple of paper towels to catch the liquid coming out of the nose. Blow Gently to encourage drainage. This is called 'The elephant blow'. You may have to to this again in a short while for complete drainage-which is important. My two cents.

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