How to Clean Your Sinuses





Introduction: How to Clean Your Sinuses

About: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs founder and manager for Autodesk and just finished building o...

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

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

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

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

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!



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565 Discussions

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.


2 years ago

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.

1 reply

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

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!

3 replies

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.

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

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

This is NOT the way to go.

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???

2 replies

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

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

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 :)

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


2 years ago

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

1 reply

Too funny, a little waterboarding never hurt anybody!


2 years ago

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.

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.

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

1 reply

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

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...)