Nasal congestion is a common ailment that occurs in response to viruses, such as the cold and flu, allergies, sinus infections and other problems. Cleaning out your nose can improve your breathing, help you sleep and reduce your discomfort. Clearing your nose of mucus also enables nasal sprays and other medications to work more effectively, removes irritants and allergens from your nasal passages and reduces inflammation caused by pressure and irritation. Nasal irrigation is effective and appropriate for adults and children of all ages, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Wash your hands with warm water and soap. Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt with 4 oz. of warm, clean water. In most cases, treated tap water is fine. If your water comes from a well, BabyCenter recommends using boiled tap water or bottled water.
Add a small pinch of ordinary baking soda to the saltwater, or saline, solution. The baking soda will help prevent the solution from burning the inside of your nasal passages during use.
Lean over a sink or tub and bring the saline solution to your nose using your cupped hands. Inhale through your nose. Minor coughing is normal and not cause for concern.
Use a bulb syringe to administer the saline directly if you cannot tolerate the sensation of inhaling the liquid through your nose. Tilt your head downward so that your nostrils are facing the sink. Slowly and gently depress the bulb syringe until your nasal passage fills with saline. The solution should drain out of your other nostril or through your mouth.
Blow your nose to expel any remaining mucus or saline solution. Repeat the procedure on the other side, if necessary. The Mayo Clinic recommends using two full syringes of saline for each nostril.
Throw away any unused saline solution and make a fresh batch the next time you need to clean out your nose. Do not reuse the saline, and do not share any batch of saline with someone else who is currently ill. Doing so can spread illness and lead to infection.
Thoroughly rinse your bulb syringe with hot water after use. National Jewish Health suggests cleaning it once each day with rubbing alcohol. Allow it to dry, tip down, to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."