What is a Saline Nasal Wash?

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  • Written By: Teresa Shaw
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 28 February 2020
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A saline nasal wash is a simple, effective tool for cleaning and clearing the sinus passages. It is often used by those who suffer sinus problems or who live in areas with pollution. The use of saline nasal washes is a long known alternative therapy that can offer quick results with few side effects.

Decongestant nasal drops work fast, often offering almost immediate relief. They often contain chemicals like xylometazoline or naphazoline HCI, however, which relieve congestion by shrinking the small blood vessels of the nose. These nasal drops should only be used for a few days and are often not recommended for use by people who have type 2 diabetes, an enlarged prostate, glaucoma, heart or blood vessel disease, high blood pressure, or an overactive thyroid.

Steroid nasal drops also shrink swollen nasal tissue and offer fast relief. They can cause the nasal passages to feel dry and irritated, however, and may cause them to bleed. Large doses may also cause high blood pressure.

Unlike decongestant nasal drops and steroid nasal drops, a saline nasal wash clears the sinus passages without chemicals. In fact, they can be made from common household ingredients. Using distilled or purified water, pickling or canning salt, and baking soda, homemade saline nasal washes can be used with a Neti pot, nasal wash bottle, or even with cupped hands.


Saline nasal wash is made by mixing 1 teaspoon (about 5 grams) pickling, canning, or uniodized salt; 8 ounces (236.58 ml) of warm distilled water; and one pinch of baking soda in a nasal wash bottle or Neti pot. Leaning over a sink, the head should be tilted forward and a little to the side. The nasal wash solution should be poured or sprayed into the right nostril until it pours out the left nostril. The nose should be blown gently, then the process repeated by pouring or spraying the nasal wash into the left nostril.

Saline nasal wash shrinks swollen tissue and removes irritants, allergens, pollution, dirt, and dust particles from the nose. The water clears excess mucous and often provides immediate relief. This nasal wash can be used every day, and various natural ingredients, like grapefruit seed extract, can be added for additional relief or when congestion is at its worst.

Saline nasal washes are also available by various manufacturers as kits. These kits often contain the saline mixture and bottles specially formed for easy application. They can be used by nearly anyone of any age.


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