Nasal or Sinus Rinse Recipe and Uses

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Saline rinses are widely available over the counter at drugstores and online, or you can use a nasal and sinus rinse recipe (like the one found in this article) to make your own at home. These rinses are a drug-free way to treat and prevent sinus infections and allergic rhinitis (runny nose).

By rinsing the nasal passages with a salt-water solution, you can help rid the nose of allergens and thin out mucus. Sinus rinses can also prevent blockages and keep your sinuses clear.

This article discusses the purpose of nasal and sinus rinses. It offers step-by-step instructions on how to perform a nasal and sinus rinse, as well as a recipe for making your own rinse at home.

A woman getting ready to use a neti pot
Valery Rizzo Collection / Getty Images

Purpose of a Saline Rinse

Saline rinses help to prevent the crusting of secretions in the nasal passages, which may otherwise block the sinuses from draining. If the sinus drainage sites become blocked, which could also occur with swelling from allergies or irritants, a sinus infection may develop.

Saline rinses also serve to reduce tissue swelling in the nasal passages and improve the clearance of mucus.

Various nasal saline rinse kits are available commercially, including the Sinus Rinse brand, which contains pre-mixed salt packages. You can also make a rinse at home.

Nasal and Sinus Rinse Recipe

This saline sinus rinse recipe is from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (revised for a single use):

What You Need

  • A clean container (e.g., neti pot, sinus rinse squeeze bottle, or bowl)
  • A clean spoon for mixing (if using a neti pot or bowl)
  • A nasal bulb syringe (if using a bowl)
  • 3/4 tsp non-iodized salt, such as pickling or canning salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup distilled or previously boiled warm water


  • Place all of the ingredients in your container.
  • Mix or shake solution until dissolved.


  • Never use tap water, as it can introduce pathogens into your nasal and sinus passages.
  • Double-check that you are using non-iodized salt. Iodized salt can irritate the nasal passages.
  • If you feel a burning sensation when using the rinse, increase the amount of baking soda.

Using a Saline Rinse

The two most common ways to perform nasal saline rinses are with a gravity-driven device, such as a neti Pot, or with a pressure-driven device, such as a squeeze bottle. A nasal bulb syringe can also be used.

The most convenient way to perform a sinus rinse is in the shower, but it may also be performed over a sink. If you mixed your solution in a bowl, prepare it for use by drawing it up into your nasal bulb syringe.

To complete your rinse:

  • The head should be tilted down, with the rinse bottle, bulb syringe, or neti pot spout placed into the upper nostril.
  • With your mouth open, the bottle or syringe is squeezed with moderate force (or the neti pot is poured) so that the water can go through one nostril and out the other while you breathe through your mouth.
  • You may notice that mucus comes out of the nose as the water runs out. Keep rinsing one side of the nose until the water comes out clear.
  • Repeat the same process for the other nostril.

Saline irrigation may need to be performed on a daily (or multiple times per day) basis for people with severe symptoms, or less often, as symptoms improve.

Side Effects

Do not perform sinus rinses within at least 60 minutes of your bedtime. The saline will drain down the back of the throat and could cause a cough.

While neti pots are typically considered safe, serious illnesses can occur. Streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis has been linked to the use of over-the-counter sinus rinses, even when prepared with distilled water.

There were two deaths in the United States related to brain infection with the amoeba Naegleria fowleri from people who used tap water in Neti pots for nasal irrigation. Cleaning the device properly is also key to preventing contamination.


Nasal and sinus rinses may be used to relieve symptoms, like a runny nose or crusty blockage, that are related to allergies or infection. These rinses are generally safe to use as instructed.

Both over-the-counter products and home remedies can be used, provided that you never use tap water. Be sure the water you use is sterile and has either been boiled or packaged as distilled.

Different devices also can be used to perform nasal and sinus rinses, including neti pots, bulb syringes, and rinse bottles. You can try different products to see what works best for you.

3 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. Peters AT, Spector S, Hsu J, et al. Diagnosis and management of rhinosinusitis: a practice parameter update. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2014;113(4):347-85. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2014.07.025

  2. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Saline Sinus Rinse Recipe.

  3. Winegarner JH, Wittkopp J. Streptococcus pneumoniae Meningitis Associated With Over-the-Counter Sinus Irrigation. Cureus. 2020 May 24;12(5):e8258. doi:10.7759/cureus.8258. 

By Daniel More, MD
Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist. He is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and currently practices at Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas, California.