A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

How to use a neti pot or sinus rinse bottle

No one enjoys having a stuffy nose. A neti pot or sinus rinse bottle might be the answer because it can give your sinus a wash. However, many people question how to use a neti pot or sinus rinse bottle because it is harder to use than it looks.

People use countless medications and sprays to clear their sinuses. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, health experts estimate that 30 million Americans are affected by sinusitis every year, and 40 million Americans suffer from allergies.

how to use a neti pot teach me how to

If you have a sinus infection, a neti pot can help you clear your nasal passage.

What is it?

Saline irrigation can be done using a neti pot or sinus rinse bottle. It uses a container with saline (saltwater) solution to rinse debris or mucus from your nasal cavity. By pouring saline solution into one nostril, it flows through your nasal cavity into the other nostril to wash out mucus and allergens.

“Saline irrigation is one of the most beneficial nasal treatments, and can often help improve symptoms such as nasal congestion, allergy and in some cases, smell,” said Dr. Nathan Schreiber, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) physician at Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Dr. Schreiber said a neti pot is a more passive rinse, whereas a sinus rinse bottle, which is squeezed or battery operated, can sometimes be more effective for a “power wash” of your nasal passage.

“It also is helpful in the setting of a cold, and can often help to prevent a viral cold from becoming a bacterial sinus infection,” he said. “In the case of sinus infections, saline irrigation helps to flush infection out of the nose.”

Saline irrigation is one of the top recommendations for any patient with nasal congestion or frequent infections, Dr. Schreiber said. People often tolerate saline irrigation without any significant risks as long as you use the correct salt packets and amount of distilled water.

Dr. Schreiber recommends infants and young children use saline spray as an alternative until they can participate in the procedure. This typically can be as young as grade school age.

RELATED RESOURCE: Care My Way® gives quick treatment for common conditions like nasal congestion or sinus infection. To start, download the app.

How to use a neti pot or sinus rinse bottle

You will need:

  • Neti pot or sinus rinse bottle
  • Saline solution
  • Towel
  • Distilled water


  • Using a sink, have your towel ready for unexpected spills.
  • Add saline solution into a clean, dry neti pot or sinus rinse bottle.
  • Tilt your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot or bottle in the upper nostril.
  • Breathing through your open mouth. Gently pour or squeeze the saline solution into your upper nostril so the liquid drains through the lower nostril.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Always rinse the irrigation device after each use with distilled water and leave open to air dry. Note: If your neti pot or sinus rinse bottle is not properly cleaned with distilled water, it could lead to illness.

Print Teach Me How to Neti Handout

Infographic on how to use a neti pot

If you have nasal congestion concerns, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

Contact Care My Way Message your provider

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