How to Safely Use a Neti Pot

November 12, 2012

How to Safely Use a Neti Pot

Neti pots are the bane of Western ear, nose and throat doctors, provided that patients use these alternative healing contraptions safely. Although a household item in many Oriental families, Westerners were only recently introduced to the Neti pot in the late 1990s. Sales skyrocketed when superstar Oprah Winfrey used on television in 2006. Using one safely is more complicated than it first appears.

Salt Water Mixture

It’s best to use sterile water for nasal irrigation. You can buy commercial bottled sterile water or boil up your own. Mix one teaspoon of salt in one pint of lukewarm water. You can use less salt if you are prone to nosebleeds. Add a small pinch of baking soda if this helps improve the taste. Although you should not swallow the solution, you can’t help but taste it. Fill the pot and use immediately. Dump any extra salt water solution. Do not drink it and do not use it to water your plants.

Pouring Into Your Nose

This is best done over a sink or basin to catch the spilled water. You may need to wear a bib keep a towel over your shoulders so that wager doesn’t drip onto your clothes. Tilt your head at a 45 degree angle to your shoulders. You will be rinsing out one nostril at a time. Gently insert the pot’s spout into the upturned nostril. Gently pour so the water comes out in a steady flow. If your mouth fills with salt water, spit it out and tilt your head a little more steeply. Blow your nose and clear your throat to get rid of any excess salt water and mucus liquid. Refill the pot and do the remaining nostril. Rinse out the pot after the second nostril if you cannot wash it immediately. This entire nasal irrigation process becomes faster the more times you perform it.


Originally made of brass, most Neti pots available today are plastic or porcelain. This makes them safe to use in a dishwasher, or they can be washed by hand with mild dish detergent. They need to be cleaned and dried completely after every use. Failure to keep nasal irrigation pots clean can encourage the growth of bacteria or mold. These are not items you want to stick into your nostrils. Do not let anyone else use your Neti pot and do not anyone else’s. Regularly wash the sink or basin that the salt water solution comes into contact with.

Frequency of Use

Neti pots should be used daily only if you have a chronic sinus condition, but can still breathe through the nose. Never use a Neti pot if you cannot breathe through your nose. Three times per week is the maximum recommended usage for healthy people. Nosebleeds or a stining sensation can occur if the water is too hot or if too much salt is in the water. Use lukewarm water and reduce the amount of salt. Children should not use these pots alone. They need adult supervision in case something goes wrong.

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