Nasal Irrigation: How to Do it Safely

Nasal Irrigation: How to Do it Safely

Rinsing the nose with salt water is a very effective method at helping nasal congestion and irritation, caused by a sinus infection. We will guide you step by step and show you how to to do it safely.

Just like the nose, the sinuses have mucous membranes and when they become inflamed, acute sinusitis occurs

One of our most common diseases

Acute sinusitis is a common disease, often due to a cold. Generally, acute sinusitis goes by itself, but there are ways to ease the trouble.

The sinuses are the air-filled cavities that are on the face and open in the nasal cavity. Just like the nose, the sinuses have mucous membranes and it is when they become inflamed that acute sinusitis occurs. 

Acute sinusitis most often occurs in adults and older children. Self-care at an early stage of the treatment staircase can relieve - and at best cure - sinusitis.

how acute sinusitis occurs?

Normally, air, fluid, and mucus can pass freely to and from the sinuses, but in case of a cold, the passage is blocked. Because of the mucous membranes in the nose swell. This can cause mucus and bacteria to become trapped in the sinus. You get blocked in the sinuses, and inflammation occurs. The sinusitis itself does not infect, the cold does. Another cause of acute sinusitis may be an untreated dental infection that can cause inflammation of the upper jaw.

Stuffy nose is a problem that we all suffer from time to time, not least in case of a severe cold. For some, the nasal spray is the constant companion, but for more and more, the nasal can is becoming a favorite. Unlike a nasal spray, nasal rinsing with saltwater has no known side effects. In yoga, the purification of the nasal passages with the nose jug has been a given ritual morning and evening.

Pär Stjärne, Associate Professor at Huddinge University Hospital, is one of the experts who advocates nasal lavage.

– You can help to transport the inflammatory soup in the nose with a nasal rinse. Both the number of colds and the duration of the cold can be reduced. Even in chronic sinusitis, nasal rinsing has a proven effect, he tells Aftonbladet.

Rinse several times a day

For 25 years, Pär Stjärne has been recommending his patients with nasal problems to rinse their noses.

– I think it is a necessary treatment for influenza and colds. You can do this several times a day, says Pär Stjärne.

Anita Groth, a medical doctor, and specialist in ear, nose, throat diseases, also thinks that nasal rinses with saline are a gentle way to clean the nose from secretions, crusts, and particles that are stuck to the mucous membrane. She writes that in an article published on

When rinsing your nose, it is essential to mix the water with salt. The water has to maintain the same salt level as the body to prevent it from burning when you rinse.

Recipe for saltwater

Here’s how to easily make your own saltwater:

5 cups tap water

1 teaspoon plain table salt

Heat 0.5 liters of plain tap water to body temperature and add a teaspoon of table salt.

Stir until the salt has dissolved. Now, the water has the same salinity as the body (0.9 percent) and is called physiological saline.

The water can then either be poured into a nose rinse in a syringe form or into a nose can.

How to use the nose jug

Mix lukewarm water with salt. Use body-tempered and slightly salted water at the nose rinse, as cold freshwater irritates the mucous membranes. See the recipe above.

  1. Pour a measure of salt into the jug. It should be plain saline or fine sea salt, not salt substitutes.
  2. Fill the jug with body-temperature water. Shake the jug until the salt has dissolved. Rinse your nose carefully.
  3. Insert the pipe into the left nostril – from the side, not from the front – and push it lightly up the nostril. Make sure the nostril closes tightly around the spout. Breathe through the mouth.
  4. Lean your body forward until your head is in the middle of the washbasin.
  5. Bend your head slightly to the right shoulder, and remember to hold your chin to your chest. The water now flows into the left nostril and out through the right.
  6. Stop when about half of the water is left. Straighten your head a little. A little water will now run out of the nose. To empty the rest, close one nostril and gently blow through the other. Then close the other one and blow gently. Don’t blow so hard that it clicks or slams into your ears.
  7.  Now insert the pitcher jug into the right nostril. Bend your head to the left and allow the water to drain until the jug is empty. Then empty your nose by gently blowing through one first, then the other nostril as per point 6. Make sure all water is out. All water must come out of the nose and sinuses after rinsing, especially in winter. Therefore, do the following check after each rinse:
  8.  Bend your body forward with your head down. Turn the head aside, close the bottom nostril with a finger and blow – gently, not forcefully – through the top nostril. Hold some paper against your nose.
  9. Let the body hang out horizontally, look down into the floor and blow out through the same nostril. You blow a couple of times in each position.
  10. Do the same with the other nostril.
  11. In conclusion, you get up and blow a few times in and out through the nostrils to “dry” your nose after rinsing.

If the water does not pass through the nose: 

the nose may be clogged due to swollen mucous membranes. Body-temperature saline is relaxing for the mucous membranes of the nose and can help with nasal congestion. Do as with a regular nasal rinse but leave the water in the nostril for about five seconds before letting the water run out again. Repeat this type of nasal rinse several times between the nostrils until the water runs through. The problem may also be because you hold the nose can obliquely into the nose and push the opening into the nose wall. It stops the water from entering the nose.

If the water runs down your mouth and throat:

You stick out your chin too far. Move the chin closer to the chest, so you avoid getting water down your throat.

If it is uncomfortable:

When the water is not enough salt, it presses into the nose. When there is too much salt in the water or if the water is too cold or too hot it stings in the nose.

How often can you use it?

Usually, it is sufficient to rinse the nose once a day, for example, in the morning or evening. But when you are stuffy in the nose or during periods of high pollen, you can rinse your nose several times a day.

How to use nasal rinse in syringe form

You can rinse your nose in two different ways. Either through a nasal can according to the instructions above, or through a nasal washer in syringe form. Here’s how the pharmacy shows you how to rinse your nose with a nose rinse in syringe form:

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