How to Flush Your Sinuses

Rinsing, or flushing, your sinuses involves using a saline, or salt water, solution to help clean out debris that may be causing symptoms like sniffling and sneezing. It can also moisturize your nasal passages and help to thin mucus so it can be more easily expelled.

You can flush your sinuses by using:

  • A neti pot
  • A saline spray or rinse
  • Saline drops followed by suctioning with a bulb syringe

Some sinus rinses come with pre-made saline solutions, while other choices may require you to make a saline solution using provided or replacement salt packets, which are available at drugstores. You can also make a homemade saline solution.

This article covers three easy ways to flush your sinuses, including techniques appropriate for babies, children, and adults.

How to Clear Sinuses With a Neti Pot

A neti pot is a container that looks like a small teapot and is designed to flush out debris and mucus from your sinuses.

While mostly used by adults, some children may also benefit from using this nasal flushing device. However, make sure to speak with your child's pediatrician before using this technique on them.

Woman showing how to flush your sinuses using a neti pot
nullplus/E+/Getty Images

To use a neti pot:

  1. Fill it with room-temperature saline solution for optimal comfort.
  2. Lean forward over the sink and tilt your head slightly to one side.
  3. Put the spout against your higher nostril and angle the neti pot slightly to pour in the solution, which will then come out through the other nostril.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Never Use Tap Water

Using tap water to clean your sinuses can introduce dangerous organisms, like bacteria, to your nasal passages that can cause serious infections.

If you're making your own solution or using a saline mix, be sure to use distilled water or sterilize water by boiling it, then letting it cool to room temperature before use.

Flushing Sinuses With a Saline Spray or Rinse

Saline sprays and rinses work similarly to neti pots, but may be easier for some individuals to use. If you're using a saline spray for your child, consider using products specifically made for kids, as the nasal tip will be geared towards fitting inside of smaller nostrils.

Man using nasal spray
ballyscanlon/Getty Images

To use a saline spray product:

  1. Mix a saline solution and place in a sterilized squeeze bottle or use a pre-made saline spray product.
  2. Stand in an upright position.
  3. Try to blow your nose to clear any debris.
  4. Gently press one nostril closed with your finger.
  5. Place the tip of the saline spray product into the open nostril.
  6. Inhale with your mouth closed and squeeze the solution into one nostril.
  7. Repeat on the other side per the instructions.

To rinse your sinuses with a saline spray from a squeeze bottle:

  1. Lean over the sink and tilt your head.
  2. Place the spray nozzle into the higher nostril.
  3. Slowly discharge the solution and keep pressure on the bottle to allow more of the saline to run into the nose so it can flow out of the other nostril.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

In general, a saline spray or saline rinse can be done several times a day. If you purchase a saline spray or rinse, be sure to follow the package instructions carefully.

Saline Drops and Suction

For babies and young children, using saline drops can help thin out mucus, allowing it to drain so you can suction out the discharge with a bulb syringe or other pediatrician-approved product.

Woman cleaning a baby's nose with a bulb syringe
Jessica Peterson/Getty Images

To apply saline drops to your baby's nose:

  1. Hold them upright or slightly reclined in your lap, with their head resting back on one of your arms.
  2. Place two or three drops in each nostril.
  3. Wait a few seconds.
  4. Pointing the bulb syringe away from your baby, squeeze the bulb to push the air out.
  5. Keeping the bulb squeezed, place the tip into the nostril with the drops.
  6. Release the bulb to create suction and pull liquids out of the nose.
  7. Squeeze the bulb syringe into a sink or other receptacle to empty it.
  8. Repeat as necessary.

If you're having a hard time using this technique on your infant or young child, it may be helpful to have another adult assist you. You can always reach out to your child's pediatrician for further guidance.

If your infant of child is experiencing congestion along with other symptoms, you may need to contact their pediatrician. Signs that something more serious may be going on may include:


Flushing your sinuses can be done using a neti pot, a saline spray or rinse, as well as saline drops followed by suctioning with a bulb syringe. Infants, children, and adults may all benefit from this drug-free approach to managing sinus congestion and nasal debris.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Is rinsing your sinuses with neti pots safe?

  2. Michigan Medicine. Saline nasal washes for sinusitis.

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Use caution when giving cough and cold products to kids.

  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Should you give kids medicine for coughs and colds?

By Kristina Duda, RN
Kristina Duda, BSN, RN, CPN, has been working in healthcare since 2002. She specializes in pediatrics and disease and infection prevention.