What is a Sinus Wash?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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A sinus wash, also referred to as a nasal wash, saline wash or nasal irrigation, is a way to cleanse the nasal passages and sinuses using a saline solution for the treatment of colds, sinus infections, allergies, dry nasal passages or other sinus issues. It may also improve the sense of smell and taste. When using a neti pot, the process is referred to as Jala Neti, originating from practitioners of yoga in India. Many people include a sinus wash as part of their daily hygiene routine.

There are many products on the market for irrigating one's sinuses; some include expensive "systems" and kits. The simplest way, however, is to purchase a small vessel with a narrow spout that can contain the saline solution. A plastic or ceramic neti pot is one example, but you could also use a nasal cup or a bottle that is designed for the purpose. For the purposes of this article, we will refer to it as a neti pot.


To use a neti pot, you will need to make a saline solution that is roughly equivalent in salinity to the human body. Neti pot salt is designed specially for use in a sinus wash, but any natural, non-iodine salt without any added anti-caking agents will work. Follow the instructions that come with your neti pot as to how much salt to include -- when you first begin, it might be a good idea to use a bit less salt than is recommended so you don't irritate the nasal tissue.

Add the salt and fill the pot with lukewarm water. Water that is too cold will actually cause more congestion, and water that is too hot can irritate the lining of the sinuses. Mix the water and salt well, and test the temperature of the water on the inside of your wrist. Next, it is time for the nasal wash. It is a very safe practice that should not cause any pain -- it may be a bit unpleasant the first few times you do it, but you will quickly get used to it and fine-tune the process.

Insert the spout of the neti pot into one nostril, forming a seal, and breathe through the mouth. It is important to keep your mouth open the whole time you are irrigating your nose with the sinus wash so the water does not run down the back of the throat. Bend over the sink and tip the head to one side. As you pour the saline wash slowly through one nostril, it will begin to drain out of the other nostril. In the beginning, you can use approximately half the neti pot in each nostril for the sinus wash. As you get more accustomed to it, you can use a whole pot in each nostril.

Once the water has run out of one nostril, exhale vigorously into the sink or a tissue and repeat the process on the other side. Do not block off one nostril when blowing into a tissue as this can cause water to go into the ears. Exhale vigorously through both nostrils until the nose is clear. This process can be repeated morning and evening, or can be performed just once a day. Practice makes perfect, and watching a video online might help you get the idea as well if you are having trouble.


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Post 4

Be sure to sterilize the water before pouring it into your nose. I read a story a few months ago about bacteria in water. When the bacteria is poured into your nose in one of these sinus washes the bacteria get inside your nose and can lead to a serious infection, and that's the last thing you want that close to your brain.

Post 3

Feryll - I think young kids are going to have a problem with using a neti pot and a sinus wash because of the sensations involved. If you have ever had water flowing and running about in your nasal cavities then you know what I am talking about. Sometimes it can feel like you are going to choke on the water as it runs through your nasal passage and down into your throat.

Depending on your nephew's age, you might want to find another way of dealing with his sinus issues. I have found that steam rooms are good for clearing up the sinuses, and most kids would find spending time in a steam room fun.

Post 2

My nephew has asthma, and when he is having sinus problems that makes his asthma even more difficult to cope with. I feel really bad for him because he is only a kid and he has to deal with all of this. I think a neti pot wash might be a good natural way to help control his sinus problems and keep his asthma from flaring up also.

Post 1

I have never tried a nasal sinus wash for my sinus congestion, which is something that bothers me from time to time. Usually when I am having problems, I drape a towel over my head and lean over a pan or pot of steaming water. I don't really care for what the steam does to my hair, so maybe a sinus wash would work better for me.

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