How to Use a Neti Pot Safely (Steps and Video)
Curious to know how to use a neti pot safely? In this post, we explain theyogic nasal irrigation practice, it's benefits, and precautions. We also explain how to make your own homemade saline solution for jala neti.
From bulb syringes to squeeze bottles and neti pots, nasal irrigation went from an obscure Ayurvedic practice to a go-to remedy for chronic sinusitis . Ever since they were featured on Oprah, neti pots have become a mainstay of nasal hygiene routines across the continent.
A neti pot is the best device to flush out mucus, dirt, allergens and bacteria. It loosens thick mucus and relieves symptoms of colds, flu, infections, and allergies. It moistens the passages and mitigate problems of dryness caused by prolonged exposure to dry indoor air or pollution.
Research indicates that regular water cleansing or nasal irrigation can prevent and reduce the duration of common colds. Moreover, if you use a neti pot correctly, it’s a cheap and easy-to-use intervention with very rare side effects .
We rounded up the seven best neti pots in the online market in a previous post. Most neti pots come with specific instructions on how to use and care for the device. But the material or size doesn’t affect how to use a neti pot. Here, we get into that and other frequently asked questions.
What is Neti or Nasal Irrigation?
Neti (नेती) is one of the seven Hatha yoga body purification techniques called Shat-karma or Shat-kriya. It is the act of cleaning the nasal passages to clear dirt and mucus. Neti may refer to Jala-Neti or Sutra-neti. The former is done with a neti pot filled with saline water (jala) and the latter, more advanced technique, is done with a string (sutra).
According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, jala neti has a range of psycho-physiological benefit. Yogis do it to stay disease-free and breathe well during pranayama. But people in many parts of the world have used neti to treat colds or allergies for hundreds of years.
Here, we will focus on Jala neti as Sutra-neti is best learnt in person from a yoga expert.
What is a neti pot?
A neti pot, also called a nasal rinse cup, is a ceramic, copper, or plastic device with a conical spout. It is filled with a specific type of saline solution to cleanse the nasal passageways. The spout of a neti pot is pressed against a nostril after tilting the head titled to a side. By raising the pot, water pours into one nostril, goes through the nasal cavity, and flows out of the other nostril.
Imaginably, it is best to do neti with a clean pot in a shower or over the sink basin. It will get messy. There are other tips and considerations that make the process easier. We get into those in the next section. Before we start, here is a checklist of things you need to do neti safely at home:
A neti pot (found online)
A face towel
Salt solution (boiled water + kosher salt or saline packets)
Pure baking soda (Optional)
½ and 1 teaspoon
Glass or container
How to Use a Neti-Pot: Step-by-step
1. Wash and dry your hands. Fill a clean, dry neti pot with saline solution.
2. Stand with your feet apart and bend forward (over the sink). Look down at the basin (or your toes if you are in the shower).
3. Tilt your head sideways, at a 45-degree angle, and keep the forehead and chin level.
4. Bring the spout to the elevated nostril i.e., if you tilted your head left, place the spout at the tip of the right nostril. Also, it takes a few attempts to figure out the best angle to tilt your head.
5. Press the spout against the nostril to create a seal without touching your septum. Breathe through the mouth during this period. Stay relaxed.
6. Lift the neti pot, allowing the saline solution to run through your nostril and leave from the other onto the floor or sink basin.
7. Pour half or the entire solution based on the reservoir size of the neti pot. You may feel a slight burn in the nasal cavity if you use regular sea salt. Add ½ teaspoon natural baking soda to prevent this.
8. Place the neti pot aside, stand upright, and breathe through both nostrils. Wipe away any mucus and solution using a face towel or tissue.
9. Refill the pot with the saline solution if you emptied it. Repeat the same steps for the other nostril.
10. After both sides are cleansed, use short bursts of exhalation (as done in Kapalabhati) to remove the excess water from the nostrils.
This video demonstrates the correct method to use a neti pot safely:
Neti Pot Hygiene and Maintenance
It’s important that you care for your neti pot and follow the safety and hygiene guidelines when you use your device. Most neti pots ship with directions to clean and use. However, here are a few generic tips to keep in mind when you use a neti pot:
Handle the neti pot with clean, dry hands. Ensure that it is completely dry and clean before you use it and store it away. For the saline mix, either use a pre made solution, salt packets that you can added to boiled water, or home made neti pot solution using the correct procedure.
Always wash the neti pot with water and soap and wipe it thoroughly with a paper towel. Let it air dry completely between uses. Sanitize the neti pot once or twice a month. Get in touch with the manufacturer if you don’t have any instructions or have unresolved questions.
Jala Neti Benefits
1. Neti cleans the air passageways and nasal cavity.
2. Daily practice maintains nasal hygiene by removing dirt, bacteria, and mucus.
3. Neti soothes nasal tissues, relieving symptoms of rhinitis and allergies.
4. It reduces tinnitus and migraine.
5. Neti eases upper respiratory congestion, tonsils, and coughing.
6. It improves vision by cleansing the eye ducts.
7. Neti also improves the sense of smell and makes breathing easier.
8. It relieves stress by calming the nervous system.
9. Neti may be helpful in reducing snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Jala Neti Precautions
Jala Neti should be done during the day, before sunset.
It should not be done on infants or young children.
One should stand upright and dry the nose properly after neti.
Avoid neti if you have nasal infections or cuts/bleeding in the nose.
Discontinue Jala neti if you experience headache or ear pain.
Neti Pot: What Types of Water Are Safe to Use
Any store bought water bottle labelled sterile or distilled can be used for neti. You can use water tap boiled for 5 minutes and cooled to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container and used within 24 hours. Filtered water can be used but the water filter should be 1 micron or less to trap potentially infectious organisms.
How to make a neti pot solution at home
Never use tap or surface water as it can be infected with organisms. Boiled water is always a safe bet. In case of filtered water, ensure that the filter has an absolute pore size or 1 micron or less. If you don’t want to use store bought solutions or distilled water, here’s how to create a saline solution for neti at home:
1. Boil enough water to fill a 16-ounce glass for 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Allow the water to cool down to room temperature (or lukewarm).
3. Use ½ to 1 teaspoon of rock salt, kosher salt, or canning salt to the glass and stir.
4. Add half a teaspoon of baking soda (pure bicarbonate) to reduce nasal irritation.
5. Pour the water into a clean, dry neti pot.
Related Questions: FAQ
Is it safe to use tap water for neti?
Tap water is NOT safe for neti and should never be used untreated. It may contain organisms that are safe to swallow but can cause infections in nasal passages. Use a neti pot filled with distilled, sterile or boiled water. Allow boiled water to cool down to lukewarm or room temperature.
Is it safe to use a neti pot?
It’s safe to use a neti pot if you follow the safety guidelines and use saline solutions or salt dissolved in sterile water. Never use tap water as it can lead to infections. Consult your physician before using a neti pot if you are immune-compromised.
What is the best time of the day to use a neti pot?
You can use a neti pot any time of the day, once or more daily, but 30 minutes before or after taking a bath. Yogis use it in the morning before starting their yoga, pranayama, or meditation practice. Used this way, it helps you think clearly and breathe well during your routine.
How often to use a neti pot?
You can use a neti pot once daily for nasal hygiene, which is what yoga recommends. You can use it thrice a week to prevent allergies or flu. Additionally, you can use a neti pot up to three times a day to relieve severe symptoms of nasal congestion or other chronic issues.
How to clean a neti pot?
Be very particular about cleaning your neti pot after each use to avoid infections. After use, wash the pot with hot water and soap. Wipe it dry with a paper towel and let it air dry. Place it in a clean, dust-free place once dry. Also, put the device in a dishwater twice a month to sterilize it.
Can infants and children use neti pots?
In Ayurveda and Yoga guidelines state infants and children should not use a neti pot daily as they do not tolerate the procedure. Imaginably, it would be difficult for a young child to understand the intricacies of how to use a neti pot correctly.
However, in some cases, you can use neti pots designed especially for children with congestion or nasal allergies to relieve their symptoms. According to the USFDA, children aged 2 and over can do nasal rinsing only if it recommended by a pediatrician.
Neti pots can help people breathe easier and flush out unwanted sustances from nasal passages. If you have trouble getting it right, remember that relaxing plays a big role in letting the water run from one nostril down to the other quickly and easily.
We hope this article is all you need to know about how to use a neti pot safely and effectively. If you are keen to starting using one, you can check out our top picks for neti pots that feature ceramic, plastic, copper, and stainless steel nasal irrigation devices.
1) P.S. Swathi, B.R. Raghavendra, Apar Avinash Saoji, Health and therapeutic benefits of Shatkarma: A narrative review of scientific studies, Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Vol 12, Issue 1, 2021, Pages 206-212, ISSN 0975-9476, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaim.2020.11.008. 2) Effect of Jala Neti Karma in Chronic Allergic Rhinitis – A Case Study, International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Medical Sciences, Vol 2, Issue 4, Pages 301-207, 2019 3) CDC - Ritual Nasal Rinsing & Ablution 4) US FDA – Is Rinsing Your Sinuses With Neti Pots Safe?