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Saline Nasal Washes for Sinusitis


Saltwater washes (saline lavage or irrigation) help keep the nasal passages open by washing out thick or dried mucus. They can also help improve the function of cilia that help clear the sinuses. This can help prevent the spread of infection to the other sinuses and reduce post-nasal drip. It also can make the nose feel more comfortable by keeping the mucous membranes moist.

Do your saltwater (saline) wash before you use your other nasal medicines. The wash will help your sinuses absorb the medicine.

  1. Make your saltwater solution.
    1. Add 1 cup (250 mL) distilled water to a clean container.

      If you use tap water, boil it first to sterilize it. Let it cool until it's lukewarm.

    2. Add 0.5 tsp (2.5 g) table salt (best to use non-iodized salt, which does not have iodine in it) to the water.
    3. Add 0.5 tsp (2.5 g) baking soda.
  2. Wash your sinuses.
    1. Warm the solution a little, if you want.

      But make sure it's not hot.

    2. Fill a large medical syringe, squeeze bottle, or nasal cleansing pot (such as a Neti Pot) with the saline solution.
    3. Insert the tip into your nostril, and squeeze gently.
      • Aim the stream of saline solution toward the back of your head, not toward the top.
      • The saline wash should go through the nose and out the mouth or the other side of the nose.
  3. Blow your nose gently after the saline wash unless your doctor has told you not to blow your nose.

The saline wash may cause a burning feeling in your nose the first few times you use it. Most people get used to the wash after a few times.

  • Repeat several times every day.
  • Clean the syringe or bottle after each use.
  • You can store homemade saline solution at room temperature for 3 days.


Adaptation Date: 5/5/2022

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC