Nasal Salt Water Rinse or Saline Lavage


  • Studies show that this mixture of concentrated salt water and baking soda helps the nasal lining work better and helps move mucous out of the nose. This works on the principle of osmosis.
  • The salty water helps pull fluid out of the swollen nasal lining, acting as a decongestant. It also helps wash away pollens, dirt, mucous, crusts, and other debris. This is used after nasal and sinus surgery as well.


  • City tap water is fine. Highly filtered well water is okay, too. If there is any question as to the quality of your water, use bottled water.
  • Salt – use pickling/canning or sea salt. Do NOT use table salt.
  • Regular baking soda (bicarbonate).

For one cup of mixture (this fills a lavage bottle), start with 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir or shake to mix. This mixture can be used to refill saline mist bottles.

For a larger quantity of solution, use a clean quart jar, fill with water, and add 2-3 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir or shake until mixed and store at room temperature. Discard after a week if not used up.

If the mixture seems too strong, you may decrease the amount of salt as desired; try 1-2 teaspoons in a quart of water, along with 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Children usually better tolerate a weaker solution to start, increasing to an adult strength as tolerated.

If you have colored (yellow, green, brown) nasal drainage, either with lavage or when blowing your nose, you may add one drop of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo to the lavage mix. Start with 1 bottle a day with the added shampoo. You may increase to 2 lavage bottles a day.


Make the salt and soda mixture according to the recipe. Rinse your nose as directed. You will need a lavage kit bottle bulb/ear syringe or a water pick to get the mixture in your nose.

If you have mixed a larger quantity of solution, pour the solution in the lavage bottle or into a clean bowl to use a bulb syringe or into the water pick reservoir. Do no pour solution from the bowl, lavage bottle, or water pick into the larger bottle/jar and do not place the bulb syringe directly in the larger bottle/jar: either of these actions will contaminate your solution.

Some people like to warm the solution in the microwave to about body temperature. Be sure the solution is NOT HOT. You can also use warm tap water to mix your solution each time.

When you are ready, bend over the sink or in the shower. Insert the lavage bottle or bulb syringe tip just inside the nose. Aim the stream of fluid toward the back of your head. The solution will either come out the same nostril, other nostril, or through the mouth. Avoid swallowing more than a small amount of this solution, as it could cause stomach upset.

Most people notice a burning sensation the first few times they use this mixture; this usually goes away after a few days’ use. This procedure can take a little getting used to, you are encouraged not to give up while you are adjusting to it.

For young children who do not tolerate the lavage bottle, use a saline mist bottle with the salt and soda mixture, squirting several times in each side of the nose. This is easier done if the child is in a sitting or standing position. Some children like to do this themselves. Encourage them to spit the solution out as needed.

If you are using a nasal steroid spray such as Nasacort, Vancenase, Flonase, Rhinocort, Nasarel, etc., always use the salt and soda mixture first to clean the nose. The steroid spray is more effective this way.

For any questions, contact the office: 770.985.6233