A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Teach me how to neti

No one enjoys having a stuffy nose. 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.

Illustration of a neti pot

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

A neti pot might be the answer to flush your worries away.

What is a neti pot?

Saline irrigation, which can be done using a neti pot, is using 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 “flush 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. It is a well-tolerated treatment without any significant risks as long as the correct salt packets and amounts are used with 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.

Neti pot how-to

You will need:

  • Neti pot
  • Saline solution
  • Towel
  • Distilled water


  • Tilt your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril.
  • Breathing through your open mouth, gently pour 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 is not properly cleaned with distilled water, it could lead to illness.

Request an appointment with you provider if you are still having sinus issues or have questions about saline irrigation.

Infographic on how to use a neti pot


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