Nasal irrigation (nasal lavage)

content provided by

Nasal irrigation (nasal lavage)


To alleviate irritating nasal problems, your doctor may recommend nasal irrigation, also called nasal lavage. Nasal irrigation involves flushing out thickened mucus and irritants from your nose. Nasal irrigation is appropriate for children and adults.

To perform nasal irrigation, you need a few simple materials:

  • A bulb syringe
  • A 1/4-teaspoon (1.23 ml) measuring spoon
  • A measuring cup
  • Salt
  • A small basin or sink

First, wash your hands with soap and water. Then, mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 2 cups (473 ml) of warm water, about body temperature. The salt water is called an isotonic solution, or saline, because it is a nonirritating mixture with the same saltiness as your body fluids. If you have iodine sensitivity, noniodized salt can be used.

Squeeze the air from the syringe and draw as much saline as possible from the basin. Turn the syringe upright, squeeze to remove any remaining air, and again draw the saline to completely fill the syringe.

Next, bend over the sink. Resist the urge to tip your head back. Instead, lean slightly toward the sink. Gently insert the tip of the syringe into your nose.

You should insert the syringe a distance equivalent to the width of your fingertip. Do not insert it all the way into your nose. Angle the tip of the syringe toward the outer corner of your eye, then slowly squeeze the bulb so that the liquid gently squirts into your nose.

Let the solution drain from your nostril. It may come out of your other nostril or from your mouth. Repeat on both sides of your nose, using two full syringes in each nostril.

Finally, clean up your supplies. With fresh, clean water, fill the syringe then squeeze out the fluid. Repeat several times so that the water coming out is clear. Dry the bulb syringe and store it in a cup or container.

Another nasal irrigation option is a neti pot — which you use to pour saline first into one nostril and then the other.

If the video does not play, you may need to download and install the latest version of Windows Media Player.
Last Updated: 2008-09-24
© 1998-2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Terms and conditions of use


Bookmark and Share   E-Mail Page   Printer Friendly Version