Updated March 2022
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Buying guide for Best neti pots

If you suffer from allergy or sinus symptoms like nasal congestion, a runny nose, post-nasal drip, a cough, facial pain, or headaches, you have probably tried a variety of treatments to relieve your discomfort. Prescription or OTC medications often have undesirable side effects, and natural remedies might help but not be fully effective. One alternative treatment that many ear, nose, and throat doctors recommend is a neti pot for nasal irrigation.

Nasal lavage, or rinsing, has been a part of Indian Ayurvedic tradition for thousands of years. Jala-neti – the cleansing of the nasal passages with salt water – is a daily practice for many adherents of hatha yoga, and neti pots have become fairly well known in the Western world over the past two decades. Plus, there is quite a bit of research that backs up the effectiveness of this ancient practice for relieving nasal and sinus discomfort.

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Rinsing your nasal passages and sinuses with saline or pure water is an effective way to thin and remove thick or hardened mucus and wash away allergens, bacteria, and dust.

What is a neti pot?

A neti pot, also called a nasal irrigator, is a simple device used to pour water into the nasal passages to flush out mucus, pollen, bacteria, or other irritants. While the idea might seem odd, or even unpleasant, once you get the hang of using a nasal irrigator, it’s a simple process that takes just a few minutes and provides considerable relief for allergy, common cold, and sinus symptoms.

You can use a neti pot to reduce symptoms and discomfort during an allergy flare-up or when you catch a cold, but the best practice is to use your neti pot on a regular schedule to reduce the chance of developing symptoms in the first place.

Key considerations

You’ll find several types of nasal irrigators on the market. Some merely moisturize your nose without penetrating much further. These are typically nasal sprays made to lubricate the inside of the nostrils for relief from dryness and irritation. A true neti pot goes much further than that. When used properly, the rinse travels beyond the nostrils into the upper nasal passages and sinuses before draining back out of the nose.

There are three basic types of neti pots: traditional, squeeze, and electronic.

Traditional neti pots

Traditional neti pots look like a small teapot with no lid, a long spout, and a handle, and they are often made of ceramic, though there are plastic versions available. To use, simply insert the tip of the spout into one nostril, tilt your head to the side, and gently pour the water into your nose. If your head is positioned correctly – it can take practice to achieve this – gravity will drain the water through your nasal passages without excessive pressure.

Traditional neti pots are very gentle, with little water pressure to cause discomfort. They are also beautifully glazed and add a touch of color to your bathroom decor. They are easy to clean and can be used in the shower or tub. However, some people find it difficult to get the hang of using a traditional neti pot.

Squeeze irrigators

If you find it difficult to coordinate tilting your head to the right angle while gently pouring water into your nose, you will probably find a squeeze irrigator easier to use than a traditional neti pot. A squeeze irrigator is basically a plastic bottle with a nozzle that fits into your nostrils. Just insert the nozzle into one nostril, tilt your head forward, and squeeze gently to rinse your sinuses. The solution will drain out of the opposite nostril as with a traditional neti pot.

Squeeze irrigators are easier to use than traditional neti pots, and many are sold as a system that includes a saline mix. They can also be used in the shower or tub. That said, squeezing too hard creates excessive water pressure, which can be uncomfortable. Squeeze irrigators are not as easy to clean as traditional neti pots either.

Electric irrigators

If you’ve suffered through years of chronic sinus infections and allergies, an electric irrigator might help you finally get relief. These devices are similar to oral irrigators. You adjust the pressure to a comfortable level, and the device pulses saline solution into your nasal cavity and sinuses. Like all nasal irrigators, the solution then flows out your other nostril and into the sink or tub. Electric irrigators can be more effective than manual devices since the flow is delivered in a steady, pulsing stream that reaches further into the sinuses, and the pressure control makes irrigation more comfortable.

Electric irrigators offer adjustable water pressure and effective performance. But they are more expensive than the other types of nasal irrigators. They also must be plugged into an electrical outlet and cannot be used in the shower or tub.


Simple neti pots aren’t generally very expensive. You can buy a ceramic traditional neti pot for $15 to $30, depending on the color of the glaze and the quality of the ceramic. A plastic squeeze nasal irrigator can cost less than $10, although you’ll pay up to $15 for a squeeze irrigator that comes with packets of saline solution.

Electric nasal irrigators, on the other hand, generally fall in the $80 to $110 range, but the expense may well be worth it if your allergies are particularly persistent and manual neti pots haven’t relieved your symptoms.

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Did you know?
Neti pots have been used in India for thousands of years to keep the nasal passages clear of irritants.


The basic method of nasal irrigation is the same whether you use a traditional neti pot, squeeze irrigator, or electric irrigator.

  • Never use tap water to fill your neti pot unless you have first boiled it for three to five minutes, and then let it cool. While rare, it is possible to develop a serious infection by flushing your sinuses with tap water. For convenience, use distilled or purified water in your neti pot.

  • Avoid potential stinging or irritation by using a saline solution to irrigate rather than plain water. You can mix your own saline solution by combining 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon non-iodized salt, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, and one cup warm distilled or purified water. If you want the convenience of a premade mix, there are many available. Just open the packet and mix with clean warm water.

  • Your irrigation solution should be comfortably warm, not hot or cold.

  • Stand over a sink or tub, or in the shower, and place the spout of the irrigator into one nostril. Leave the other nostril open.

  • If you are using a traditional neti pot, tilt your head to the side away from the nostril you are irrigating. So if you are irrigating the left nostril, tilt your head to the right.

  • If you are using a squeeze or electric irrigator, tilt your head slightly downwards.

  • Pour water from the neti pot, or activate the squeeze or electric irrigator. You will feel the saline solution running through your nasal cavity, then pouring out the opposite nostril and into the sink.

  • Use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup saline solution in the first nostril, and then repeat on the other side.

  • Breathe through your mouth while irrigating. If saline runs down your throat into your mouth, just spit it out. With experience, this will not happen.

  • When you are finished irrigating, gently blow your nose and wipe away any draining saline.

  • With practice, the irrigation technique will become second nature and will only take you a few minutes to complete.

  • Once done with irrigating, wash your neti pot or irrigator and let it dry. You should never share a nasal irrigator with another person or allow the irrigator to touch the floor or unclean surfaces.

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Many people find regular use of a neti pot is enough to control their allergy symptoms without the need for OTC or prescription medications.


Q. Is it really safe to use a neti pot?
For most people, the answer is yes as long as you use distilled or purified water every time, not tap water. In rare cases, tap water can harbor infectious bacteria or amoebas. But if you have a suppressed immune system, have very persistent nasal symptoms or infections, or feel worse after using your irrigator, check with your doctor.

Q. How often should I use my neti pot?
Once or twice per week is enough for preventative care. If you are suffering from allergy or cold symptoms, however, go ahead and use your nasal irrigator two or three times per day until your symptoms subside.

Q. How should I clean my neti pot?
It’s very important to clean your neti pot after every use, as otherwise, it could become a breeding ground for bacteria. Some ceramic neti pots are dishwasher-safe, but if not, wash your irrigator in warm water with gentle dish soap, and then let it air dry completely before storing it. If you have a squeeze irrigator, rinse the bottle after use, and hand-wash the plastic tip with soapy water before setting the two pieces out to air dry. Your electric nasal irrigator should come with instructions for cleaning, but as a general rule, you’ll want to wash the tip with gentle soap after every use.

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