The best neti pot
While not all holistic treatments work as well as over-the-counter remedies, the neti pot is one alternative to nasal decongestants that actually works and is recommended by ear, nose, and throat doctors. These simple ceramic or plastic pots are used to irrigate the sinus passages and treat allergies and cold symptoms.
To learn more about the ancient Ayurvedic tradition of "nasal lavage" and the various types of neti pots available, read our shopping guide. We've also included our top product picks at the end of this article, like Sattvic Path's Handmade Ceramic Neti Pot, so you can start breathing through your nose again.
Considerations when choosing neti pots
Using a neti pot
In a nutshell, a neti pot is like a little watering can for your sinuses and is used to pour water (or saline solution) into your nasal passages to flush out mucus, bacteria, pollen, or other irritants that are causing congestion or a runny nose. It may seem strange at first, but this practice dates back thousands of years in India, though it has only taken hold in the West for the past two decades.
Types of neti pots
Traditional neti pots look like a small teapot without the lid. Traditionally they are ceramic, but plastic models are available, and often at a lower price. After the pot is filled, the long spout is inserted into the opening of one nostril. With the head positioned properly, the rinse should travel up through one side of the nasal passages and drain out the other. Though it takes some practice to get used to the technique, it is very gentle and gravity does most of the work.
Squeeze irrigators don't require you to position your head at the perfect angle to rinse your sinuses. These plastic squeeze bottles are outfitted with a nozzle that fits into one nostril. All you have to do is tilt your head forward, squeeze, and the solution rinses your sinuses and drains out the opposite nostril. While they are easier to use than traditional neti pots, if you squeeze too hard the pressure can be uncomfortable.
Electric irrigators offer more effective nasal rinsing than manual devices. These battery-powered or corded gadgets send a steady, pressurized stream of water flowing up through one nostril and out the other. This pulsing stream -- which can be adjusted for your comfort -- can reach further into the sinuses than the other two types, making them ideal for sufferers of chronic sinus infections and allergies. However, they have quite a hefty price tag.
Because of their spouted design, neti pots aren't always simple to clean. Some ceramic and plastic ones are dishwasher-safe, making them easier to clean. If your neti pot isn't dishwasher-safe, be sure to properly clean and sterilize it after use so it doesn't breed bacteria.
Many neti pots include a starter quantity of saline mix, either in packet, pod, or loose form. Packets and pods are highly convenient with pre-measured amounts of salt so you don't have to worry about figuring out the correct ratio of salt to water. Some irrigators require that you use their propriety pods or packets.
Some pots and irrigators feature removable silicone or plastic nozzles that come in different sizes and shapes. Smaller ones with a rounder tip and smaller holes are designed for children.
When buying a plastic neti pot or irrigator, select one made from BPA-free plastic if you're concerned about exposure to this potentially hazardous chemical.
Manual neti pots and squeeze irrigators range in price from under $10 to $30. Electric irrigators start at $80 and can go up to $110.
Q. Can I use plain tap water in my neti pot?
A. Only use distilled, purified, or filtered water in your neti pot. Though rare, tap water can harbor harmful bacteria and protozoa. If you must use tap water, boil it for three to five minutes and then let it cool before using.
Q. How often should I clean my neti pot?
A. Clean your neti pot after each use. This is very important because the device can harbor bacteria. Follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions; not all neti pots can be put in the dishwasher.
Neti pots we recommend
Best of the best: Sattvic Path's Handmade Ceramic Neti Pot
Our take: A handmade traditional neti pot with a high level of craftsmanship and artisanal appeal.
What we like: Unique, ergonomic handle-free design is easy to grip. Ceramic is dishwasher-safe; pot is easy to sterilize. Comes in four different colors.
What we dislike: Small capacity at less than eight ounces.
Best bang for your buck: ComfyPot's Ceramic Neti Pot Sinus Rinse
Our take: Another handle-free ceramic neti pot, but at a lower price.
What we like: Silicone nozzle creates a seal inside the nostrils to mitigate spills. All parts are dishwasher-safe. Comes with two removable nozzles.
What we dislike: Nozzle may slow down the flow for some users.
Choice 3: Navage's Nasal Care Deluxe Bundle
Our take: A battery-powered electric irrigator that conquers tough cases of nasal congestion.
What we like: Cordless. Head can be held upright during operation. Comes with a case and in three different colors. Comes with 48 salt pods and other accessories.
What we dislike: Proprietary salt pods are pricey to replace.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.