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How to Safely Use a Neti Pot

Wondering if you’re using a Neti pot the proper way? The answer might surprise you.

Using a Neti pot properly is the key to sinus relief—and preventing dangerous infections.

What is A Neti Pot?

A Neti pot is a ceramic (or plastic) device that resembles a small teapot. It’s used for nasal irrigation (rinsing your sinuses out with salt water) for those times when you’re so stuffy you can’t breathe. Neti pots are all natural alternatives to congestion when you want to avoid medication. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that improper Neti pot use can boost your risk for infections.

Using Neti Pots Properly

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions precisely when using your Neti pot.

Step 1: Always wash your hands before each Neti pot use.

Step 2: Rinse your Neti pot with filtered water or distilled water (or previously boiled water that’s been boiled for 3 to 5 minutes and cooled).

Step 3: Fill your Neti pot with 8 ounces of warm distilled water, filtered water, or previously boiled water.

Step 4: Cut the sinus rinse pack that comes with your Neti pot, and pour the contents into the pot.

Step 5: Tighten the Neti pot lid, and place your finger over the hole in the cap.

Step 6: Shake the Neti pot until the mixture dissolves into the water.

Step 7: Bend forward in front of a sink and tilt your head to one side (avoid tilting your head backward).

Step 8: Apply the tip of the Neti pot snugly against one nostril, and allow the saltwater mixture to gently flow into your nasal passage until the mixture drains out from your other nostril.

Step 9: Let the saltwater from the pot flow throughout your nasal passage until it’s half used up. Don’t let the solution drain into your mouth, and try not to swallow it.

Step 10: Gently blow your nose.

Step 11: Repeat steps 8, 9 and 10 with your other nostril.

Step 12: Rinse with your Neti pot once or twice daily, or as directed by your doctor.

Keeping Your Neti Pot Clean

Keep your Neti pot clean between uses, by rinsing it with clean filtered water and blotting it with a paper towel or letting it air dry. The FDA says to avoid using tap water in Neti pots, as tap water often contains low levels of microorganisms that can be safe to swallow—but not safe for your nasal passage and can cause serious infections.

Which Filtered Water is Safe?

When choosing filtered water for your Neti pot rinse, be sure to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. These include choosing a filter designed to remove water-loving organisms (it may read NSF 58 or NSF 53). You can also choose filters that read “absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller,” the CDC notes.

When to Call Your Doctor

If you’re unsure about how to properly use your Neti pot (if manufacturer instructions aren’t clear to you, for example), check in with your doctor first. Always get the okay from a doctor before allowing young children to use Neti pots. Also, check in with your doctor if you or your child experience unpleasant side effects or reactions after Neti pot rinses.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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