Sinus Infections
Natural Remedies

Saline Rinse Method for Sinus Infections

| Modified on Dec 06, 2023
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Nasal Rinse for Sinus Infections

When it comes to clearing the sinuses, the first remedy that comes to most people's minds is likely not a saline rinse. The triggered mental picture of ingesting saltwater through the nose likely does not conjure up images of cleansed sinuses and relief; however, the treatment is particularly effective. Plus, a saline rinse is a much safer option than over-the-counter remedies.

The Problem with OTC Decongestants

When nasal pressure and congestion start, most people are tempted to head straight to the drugstore to pick up "the good stuff," or in other words, a nasal decongestant. In these cases, though, individuals are likely doing more harm than good. While decongestants appear to relieve congestion, really all the medication is doing is drying out the body -- a practice with a negative compounding effect. Additionally, as the body is continuously exposed to conventional treatments, it becomes immune to many treatments, making even effective options less potent.

A More Effective Option - Saline Rinse

A better, safer option compared to an over-the-counter decongestant is a saline rinse. A saline rinse uses a saline solution or mixture of water and salt to clear the nasal passages. The process promotes healing of a variety of conditions including the common cold, sinus infection, and allergies.

How saline works:

A saline rinse is one of the most effective ways to cleanse the nasal passages to relieve congestion and prevent mucous buildup. The balanced mixture of water to salt restores balance in the nasal passages via osmosis. Likewise, the salt has a cleansing effect that helps reduce swelling, which allows mucous to drain more effectively.

How to Use a Saline Rinse:

Using a saline rinse is relatively easy. An appropriate rinse is comprised of 1/2 teaspoon sea salt mixed into 1 cup of warm water. After the salt has dissolved in the water, it can be poured into a nasal spray bottle or neti pot. To complete the rinse, lean over the sink and insert the nozzle into the nose, squeezing to allow the mixture to enter the nose. Allow the rinse to travel through the nasal passages and exit the throat. Complete the rinse as often as needed, but wait at least 30 minutes between each rinse.

Potential Side Effects

While a saline rinse is an effective treatment, even this home remedy is not without potential side effects.

Nasal Irritation

If the rinse is too concentrated, the salt may cause nasal irritation and dryness. Be sure to use an appropriate solution as suggested above.

Sinus infections are among the most common and uncomfortable health conditions; however, effective remedies can diminish recovering time and increase overall health. A saline rinse is one of the most effective ways to clear a sinus infection and prevent further development of infections and illness.

Continue reading below for over 50 reviews from Earth Clinic readers and tell us what you think!

Related Links:

Apple Cider Vinegar: Uses, Health Benefits and FAQ
Find Relief from Sinus Infections Naturally
Impressive Health Benefits of Oil Pulling

55 User Reviews

5 star (52) 
1 star (1) 

Posted by Donna (Hyde Park, NY) on 12/10/2022

Husband has a Nasiline nose syringe...don't have a neti pot. I decided to try it with pink salt 1/4 t. in about 1 quart of water. I went back and forth between nozzles and one of the things that came out was what looked like a plug of dense mucous. Now I can breathe. First time for me and I am going to repeat several times today. I've had nasil congestion/cough for almost 4 weeks...WAY too long.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Rose (India) on 09/14/2014

Is it true that saline rinse for clearing sinuses causes a puffy face because of salt? I've heard that salt leads to puffiness in the body.....

Saline Rinse
Posted by Cara C. (London, Uk) on 03/27/2014

I have used a saline rinse daily for years and it works like a charm. Before I started on my daily ritual, I got sinus infections one after another. It was torture. Happily, I have had no sinus infections in 3 years! I use 1 teaspoon of sea salt in my saline bottle mixed with distilled warm water. Once a week I add a dash of hydrogen peroxide.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Maxwell (Phila, Pa) on 08/07/2013

Re: Sinus pain with smoke smell... I have been smelling smoke for a month or so with facial, head and ear pain. Been using neti pot with saline solution, dr sending me for a cat scan tomorrow. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Replied by Mmsg
(Somewhere, Europe)

Maxwell, try oil pulling.

Replied by Dave
(Fountain Inn, Sc)

Fungal infection or viral infection is likely cause of the odd odor and may be due to the debris peutrefying as the infection decays. Sinus cleanse needs to be with colloidal silver vigoriously squirted into nose, left and right and allow to drain back into throat. Gargle with it also. Use ear syringe to irrigate ears. Using syringe to squirt into ears and into sinus will get colloidal silver into the eustacian tube also. Colloidal Silver will kill fungus, virus as well as bacteria. Do this twice a day for a week.

Replied by Moosic
(Tigard, Oregon)

My problem is a weird smell in just one nostril, since Thanksgiving. I can't identify the smell. My ENT said to use the saline solution, along with the substitute for Flonase, and if the problem persists, I may need a CT scan, and have surgery to remove tumors which "may" be in there. Not what I want to do!! Now...How much of the colloidal silver would you use for the nasal infection? Previously I used a Saline spray in a small bottle which was not helping. Now I have been using 1 teaspoon of sea salt in 16 ounces of water. Just today started adding a pinch of soda. I use a nasal irrigation bottle and cleanse each nostril with one cup of the solution. Do this 3X a day. Now I see the tip on colloidal silver. I have some Cellular Silver which probably is the same thing. Serving size is 6 squirts. Hope it helps.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Springtime (Or, Raliegh Hills) on 04/27/2013

Saw three ENT doctor all had different opinions about sinus infection two felt like no big deal "everyone has some type of bacteria, or ecoli or fungus in their nose it is deep in the nasal cavity that they worry abyut" one gave me antibiotic Clindamycin for 30 days. anyhow I just was tired of it! I went to Chinese Medicine who gave me herbs and it was suggested 1/4 tsp sea salt neti pot or nasal spray irrigation 4-5 times a day so I tried it it was easy, and it worked plus sea salt was once used for it's antibiotice type properties.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Gregg (Augusta, Ga) on 03/25/2013

Like everyone else on this site, I have really struggled with my sinuses. I found this site about 3 years ago and it has made a huge difference for me.

I started out by drinking ACV and it does work to relieve the pressure. I still use it from time to time during allergy season when I feel the pressure coming on.

For those of you who can't stand the taste, I simply put a shotglass full of ACV (2 - 3 ounces) into 4 or 5 ounces of dark purple grape juice. The grape juice kills most of the bad taste and allows it to go down quickly.

I found that ACV isn't a fix all. An allergist suggested that I look into 'nasal lavage' - which is basically doing a saline rinse. It sounds gross, but by regularly flushing out your sinuses you get rid of all of the pollen, dander, dust, etc that causes sinus problems to begin with.

I am very cheap, so here is my solution. I kept an empty dishwashing soap bottle (dawn, polmolive, etc). I fill it with warm tap water (about body temperature). I pour in some table salt and shake.

Either in the shower or over the sink, tilt your head to one side and squirt the water into the higher nostril. If your sinuses are fairly clear, the water should pour out of the lower nostril (along with all kinds of gunk). If your sinuses are blocked, the water will go in and may not immediately come out of the other nostril. That's ok. The warm water will loosen up much of the crud in there. Have some tissue paper handy and blow to get rid of the water and the gunk.

Tilt your head to the other side and repeat to clear out the other side. You may need to do it a couple of times in each nostril to get stuff really moving. You may also need to blow your nose several times over the course of the next few hours as the stuff continues to work loose.

This will clear a lot of what's in there initially. The trick is to do it regularly (every day during allergy season) so that it gets the junk out before you have sinus issues. I don't do it as religiously as before, but even so, I breathe better than ever and I haven't been sick in 2plus years. I hope that this helps - it's been a Godsend for me.

Replied by Sunny

Do not use table salt!! Many salts contain added ingridients. Like iodine and anticaking ingredients, check label!! Can use pure sea salt, make sure it disolves! Can disolve in hot water, use drinking water! As sink water contains fluride and chlorine!! PTE free plastics!!

Replied by Karen
(Randolph, New Jersey Usa)

Please use boiled or distilled water: There have been two deaths from using contaminated water in neti pots.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Joseph (Cary, Nc) on 03/10/2013

Here is a saline rinse you can do anytime for a sinus infection with no special equipment.

I put together the following kit for my bathroom. You can use whatever you have. The idea is to make the solution the same every time, not too strong. You can adjust the salt level to whatever works best for you:

1. Baking soda in a small rubbermaid container.
2. Salt in a small container (not the same container as the baking soda).
3. 4 oz drinking glass (plastic or glass).
4. 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon (or a spoon the holds about 1/2 of a teaspoon).

I do the sinus rinse before bed and then after I first get up. It's amazing how much mucus this clears out in your sinuses.

I run the tap to get hot water (don't do a sinus rinse with cold water)! Fill a 4 oz glass with water. Put in 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pinch of baking soda. Stir.

Deep breath a few time to get oxygen levels up before "snorting" the solution. Hold your left sinus shut with your finger. Put the glass to your nose against you right sinus. Bending over the sink slightly so you don't get wet. Breath in with your right sinus to create a vacuum and draw the salt water into you right sinus. Stop when it is pulled into the back of your throat! Put the glass down. Blow and spit out all the mucus and water out of your nose and back of your throat. Switch sides and do the same procedure for the left sinus. Do this twice on each side or until all the mucus is gone. You probably will have to blow your nose a few times to stop it dripping during the process or when you are done.

Replied by Kathy
(North Canton, Ohio)

Please make sure to use distilled or bottled water, don't use tap water.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Sue (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) on 07/12/2012

I just want to say that whilst traveling in China, without a neti pot or any kind of nasal spray or lavage equipment and no access to any pharmacy or medical clinic at the time, I successfully used a sterilised travel bottle, normally used as cabin bag 100ml toiletry bottle (like a little squirt bottle), as a make-shift saline rinse bottle.

I was suffering terribly with an acute case of sinusitis with heavy symptoms worsening day by day. I couldn't move I was in such pain in my head and body. I knew instinctively that I needed to do a rinse of some kind but had never done anything like it. I researched Earth Clinic and after reading other peoples testimonies about make-shift salt rinses, gained the courage to try a nasal rinse using whatever I had (travel bottle) and immediately gained relief. I continued it throughout the day with the symptoms improving every hour. Amazing results that honestly, I wasn't expecting to be so significant, so fast.

If you find yourself in unfavourable circumstances and need to use a travel bottle or squeeze bottle, it will be a little messy and it takes a bit of trial and error to work out the right squeeze action and angle of the head, but it still gets results and that's what matters!

I'm completely sold on the concept of a neti pot and will look to using this in my daily routines and also pack a plastic light-weight neti pot into my travel bag wherever I go! Thank you Earth Clinic, what a great resource to share globally.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Joanne (Victoria, Bc Canada) on 06/14/2012

I had a SEVERE sinus infection with raw throat for 3 weeks and had tried everything except anti-biotics because they have never worked. When I finally went to the doc he said most sinus infections are viral and therefore the drugs don't work. He said if it went longer than 10 days (when I virus has finished running its course) then a person could consider the drugs. I didn't want them. What worked? Three days using sinus rinse system from the pharmacy with their mixture of one part sea salt and one part baking soda added to filtered and BOILED water, which had been cooled, twice a day. I used this plus sprays of GSE, then Xylitol-based and the one the doctor recommended was the capsicum (cayenne) based homeopathic spray. It did help but the final nail in this vicious infections coffin was sinus rinse. Make sure you don't push too hard as I accidentally blew water into my ear canal and could hardly hear for two days. No fun! Anyway, I recommend Neilmed plastic bottle as it works great.. I treated the top with hydrogen peroxide on a tissue and left the bottom and top out to dry. I rinsed morning and night... Good luck and thanks SOO much to Earthclinic for giving us all this space to share such crucial information. Bless you guys!!

Saline Rinse
Posted by Lezlie W (Los Angeles, Ca ) on 10/10/2011

The best cure for sinus infection is a nasal saline rinse. I would get sinus infections that made me super sick for two weeks. At one point they kept reappearing every 3 months. I finally got fed up and went on-line for a remedy. I found a reference to this and decided to try it. It worked pretty effectively and quickly. I used The neilmed brand aftvies scoping out all the options on the drug store shelves. I chose it because it seemed simple compared with the other methods. When I used it, it stopped my cold flu symptoms from putting me in that I need to stay in bed and rest all day state. Then I noticed my running nose and stuffy head went away too. I was still able to function daily as the symptoms declined with the use of the saline nasal rinses. Big difference from the way the infections knocked me out ANC made me feel. I'd say after three days of the washes you feel a big difference and after a week of the washes there's no signs of the infection. Since using this twice, once in the midst of a full blown infection and once at the onset, I haven't had a sinus infection since. It's been a year and a half.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Jqueen (Atlanta, Ga, 30309) on 06/20/2011

I went through a whole year not realizing I had a sinus infection & allergies. I took antiobotics and they did NOTHING! Doing regular warm sinus rinses cured the problem. OH! And eating something spicy! That helps a lot too. Make sure to drink vitamins if you're not getting enough from your foods. I recommend it in liquid form. What a difference!

Saline Rinse
Posted by Kristin K (Santa Barbara, Ca, Usa) on 05/28/2010

The CURE for SINUS INFECTIONS: Saline Irrigation with Sea Salt and Warm Water applied directly into sinus cavity.

My story: I had bacterial sinus infections on and off for 4 years and this last winter is the first year I did not have bacterial sinus infections. I saw 3 ENT specialists and have tried everything from antiobiotics through saline irrigation (netti pot) using Hydrogen Peroxide or Apple Cider Vinegar. The last year I have been finally free of sinus infections by using Sea Salt and warm water only in my irrigation. What I found it its the technique of HOW you use the irrigation; not WHAT you put in the solution. For me the trick was using an irrigation system that got the warm salt water all the way up into my sinuses. I was using the netti pot while kneeling on the batrhoom floor and holding my head upside down to get the water up into my sinuses. Now I use a water squirting devise (a brand name) that is sold to spray a stream of water to clean teeth. A friend told me about using a water spraying teeth cleaning machine for sinus irrigation years ago and I finally tried it February of 2010 with excellent results. The technique of daily squirting the warm water directly into my sinuses has what kept me from chronic bacterial sinus infections that I had in the past. I had tried Hydrogen Peroxide, Vinegar, Baking Soda etc all with stringing and irritation. The electric water spraying device has worked the best hands down.

I am writing this because this site helped me so much in trying different ways to treat my bacterial sinus infections. I was very depressed and frustrated because the ENT specialists I saw only wanted to do surgery on me. One told me specifically that I could not clean out the bacteria with sinus irrigation when I asked him about it. I believe that I can clean out bacteria and what the ENT said is not true. The sad thing is that MDs do not make any money off of telling people to do sinus irrigation at home. I just wish I had started doing sinus irrigation years ago!

Good luck, keep at it and listen to your body.

Replied by Laura
(Ashland, Wi)

A coworker friend of mine told me about this almost 10 years ago and I haven't been on antibiotics for a sinus infection since. She called it a "Chinese remedy" and instructed to use a nasal aspirator like used on babies. You fill the aspirator with salt water and, tipping your head sideways over a bathtub, push the water up your nose. It feels like you jumped off a diving board and forgot to plug you nose. You just gently blow it back out again, and what comes out with the water is what causes your infection. My friend told the first time there were scabs and dirt etc.

My dad was against homeopathic for years; until when, he complained about an especially bad infection to me, I insisted he try it. Now, he tells me about like he's instructing me and that he's eternally grateful to me and it's the only thing that has been able to dent his infections that have lasted weeks. I'm still wondering about using this for an ear infection with blocked Eustachian tubes, which I have right now. I tried it in the bath and it took about 1/3 of the pressure away. I'm not sure it was the best for that.

Replied by Linda M
(Mckinney, Tx)

Laura, can you tell me what ratio of salt to water you used? Also, did you boil the water first? When I was growing up, my mother always used a saline solution as "nose drops" on us to clear out congestion. I just can't remember the proportions. Thanks.

Replied by Wyked1
(Newark, Ohio, Usa)

I am not familiar with the nasal irrigation but after irrigating my ears several times, my ear Dr. (who must be 80 and has been my ear Dr. Since I was 5) recommended the over the counter oral irrigation but in lieu of that said I could use the bulb syringe. It works well but you have to use good force and have the water as warm as possible without burning yourself.

If you have never had your ears irrigated it feels amazing when it is finished however, it will make you dizzy so if you are doing it yourself, have someone nearby.

Since I have sinus trouble also I am thinking I should invest in the oral system so I can irrigate both.

Replied by Annie Joan
(Portage, Wi)

First, it is REALLY important to only use "pickling salt" because it has no preservatives or anything that could further irritate your nasal passages. I use the Niel Med squirt bottle. I use 1 teaspoon of pickling salt every time I do my sinus rinse and fill it with warm water- a little above room temperature. The salt will burn at first, but it is SO worth actually being able to breath again. I unknowingly lived in an apartment with mold for 3 years. Now I have esosinophilic pnemonia, rhinosinusitis, have had 3 surgeries (because of breathing/nasal problems) Use to be in the ER at least once a week. I used over 200 tissues a day because I couldn't blow my nose because it was swollen completely shut into the back of my throat. And since it was so swollen and irritated, it ran literally all day. I couldn't sleep because I had such severe apnea.

Finally I met my "lung man" and he perscribed Azelastine HCR and Fluticasone Propionate (nasal sprays, apparently the best known combination). Since I couldn't spray anything up my nose, I was put on a high dose of Prednisone to reduce swelling so I could use the nasal sprays. After I started using them, although I still get chronic sinus infections, I can actually breathe through my nose (usually).

So anyone with issues like mine, I STRONGLY suggest forgetting about ENT doctors and going to a polmunologist (lung doctor) that specializes in allergies. There is a reason you have problems like this. It isn't normal to go through these things.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Carissa (Flagstaff, Az) on 02/20/2010

Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic! I have been suffering for a little over two weeks now from cold turned into ugly sinus infection. I work with toddlers and I thought that it would take me forever to feel 100% again, which is very important when working with young, energetic ones! Dreading the money it would cost to visit a Dr. (as I do not have health care) I decided to try something natural first. Thank goodness for this website! I mixed just a little over 1/4 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of baking soda and a tiny cap-full of hydrogen peroxide in 1 cup of warm water. I used a baby ear/nose bulb and rinsed like there was no tomorrow. A whole mess of green/yellow mucus came right out of my nose and continued to after the treatment every time I blew my nose. Immediately after the all of the gunk came out I could breathe again, pressure was gone and I was happy! I am very grateful for this amazing website!

Replied by Sheila
(Coats, Nc)

Thank you so much for the saline rinse with the baby bulb post! I have suffered from sinus infections for years. I was skeptical of the rinse at first, but decided to try it and wish I had known about this years ago! I couldn't believe what came out! I can finally smell threw my nose again.

Replied by Melissa
(Kings Park, Ny)

that was the greatest thing to ever happen to my nose! Best mixture! Ive been using the neti pot with a plain old saline solution for days with no relief. I broke out this mixture with a baby bulb and feel a million times better!

Replied by Cory
(Lincoln, Ne)

I had never had a sinus infection until 4 days ago. I woke up one morning and the left side of my face felt like it was going to explode! I couldn't eat because my teeth hurt so bad, I couldn't even touch my left cheek bone without a lot of pain. I am a single mom with 3 kids all under the age of 7, I couldn't miss work and I don't have the money to go to the doctor. I tried apple cider vinegar it helped a little but I needed relief NOW!! I tried this rinse and it was AMAZING!!!! Everything cleared and now 2 days later I feel great! One thing I did that helped a lot was I slowly inhaled through my nose, so the solution would get all the way into my sinuses, below my eye, where it hurt the worst.

Replied by Joyce
(Lansdowne, Pa)

I have had chronic sinus infections caused from allergies for many years. I was taking Singulair and Veramyst and sometimes Advair. I do not like to take medication and looked at many natural supplements and herbs to take. I discovered the Sinus Rinse last spring and tried it. I have not taken any medications since. At first I used it twice per day for a few days and it cleared my sinuses and my allergies. I will not do without this again.

Replied by Amber
(San Bernardino, California)

I'm commenting on the salt/ baking soda// peroxide/ warm water mix; I was wondering if it was safe for small children and babies? Thank you for any replies.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Pete (Springfield, Mo) on 01/18/2010

Sinus Infection Remedy

I have been dealing with a sinus infection for over a week now and found the saline rinse suggestion this evening on earthclinic and could not wait to give it a try. After mixing the solution I realized that I was having a very difficult time getting the rinse into my sinuses, during the process however I had an epiphany of how it reminded me of scuba diving. In scuba diving when water gets into your mask you tilt your head back and blow out out your nose to fill the mask with air and push water out the bottom, inevitably rookie divers often pour water up their nose at the beginning of the process, myself being no exception. I got out my scuba mask, poured some saline rinse into it, pressed it to my face and simply tilted my head back and sure enough it worked like a charm. As long as the mask seals well there is little mess and it is a very controlled way to pour the rinse into your sinuses. I felt relief within minutes, the rinse really does work. I plan to buy a spray bottle, but have doubts about its ability to really flood the sinuses, when at home I think I'll keep using my scuba mask.

Saline Rinse
Posted by Mb (Littleton, Co) on 01/15/2010

I still use a nasal rinse "recipe" given to me by an Ear Nose and Throat specialist which is: 1/4 tsp. salt, pinch of baking soda and 2 capfuls of Alkolol with about 1 cup of water. The Alkolol is especially great if you have irritation in your nose. I use a baby bulb syringe and use 1/2 of the mix in each side 1-2 times per day. Super easy if you do it in the shower too!

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