This Year We’re Flushing Out Our Noses

Get a neti pot

Close up portrait of a man cleaning his nose using white ceramic neti pot

I got triple vaxxed in a Publix in between a goat soap display and an Align probiotic end cap, so you can trust me when I say that I respect and honor both ancient wisdom and Dolly Parton-backed clinical trials. I embody all the contradictions of a person who probably has a pretty fucked up gut microflora situation going on due to rampant antibiotic and bread usage for the last 25 years, but won’t use any serums with added fragrance in them in case of toxins. Toxins aren’t even real, I know. Whatever, what I’m saying is that I promise you I try a lot of Goop-adjacent things to make me feel whole and nothing ever really has ever made me feel whole — besides the Ayurvedic practice of nasal irrigation. I have found nothing else, not even drugs, works better for preventing the sinus infections and sore throats I suffer through in the winter and the allergies I get in the spring.

Nasal irrigation is essentially when you waterboard yourself with salt water as a way to prevent allergy irritation or mucus overproduction. I’ve also always just liked how it feels. Recently, I’ve been using a battery-operated irrigator that’s sort of like a Keurig machine for snot-faced girls, but I don’t really recommend this, and going analog on this task is much easier. You’ve probably heard of the original Neti Pot, that bone-white porcelain irrigator with the womanly curves. You can find a plastic version on the bottom shelf of any drugstore cold and flu aisle. Simple saline spray works too. This kind of squeezy tube is probably my favorite, but it was sold out a month ago when I went to grab it.


Neti potting is not the same thing as allergy-relief spray like Flonase. It’s just salt water that goes up one nostril, works its way via the gravitational pull of the tilted head through the sinus cavity, and then drains out the other. If you find blood, gore, and pus satisfying like I do, it might even be fun to look in your sink afterward and see what came out of you. It will probably surprise you! If you’re a baby about it, you don’t have to look. But if you do look, it feels like a job well done.

The one hitch with nasal irrigation is that, because of amoebas and lead pipes, it is recommended that you mix the salt solution with bottled, distilled water, or that you boil water for ten minutes before putting it in your body. I will say this much, and I don’t want to insult your intelligence, I just want to offer solidarity: DO NOT PUT THE BOILING WATER UP YOUR NOSE, HON! Let it cool to room temperature. Boiling yourself from the inside will likely not make the burden of sinus unease any better.

Of course, if a doctor tells you that you need antibiotics, or Tamiflu, or quarantine, or steroids, you should not sub those things out for Neti potting. I can’t even believe I’m here, offering medical disclaimers in a blog post. The only reason I am is because I used to write a “wellness” newsletter where I would, for example, stick yogurt up my vagina and swallow whole cloves of garlic, wait a few hours, and be like, “Yep, still mentally ill!” But when it comes to my allergies? I’m all better, and I’m whole now.