Using baking soda in nasal rinse solutions can help move the mucus out of the sinuses quicker. This can provide relief to people with stuffed noses without using medications.

Nasal rinse preparations can be particularly helpful for those who experience recurring nose congestion due to conditions such as chronic sinus or rhinitis.

Several nasal rinse preparations containing baking soda, which is known as sodium bicarbonate, are available as over-the-counter medications. However, people can also consider preparing a nasal wash containing baking soda at home. Generally, making the solution is simple and cheaper than buying premade nasal washes at the local pharmacy or online.

This article will review the use of baking soda in nasal rinses, how to prepare and use it, and when a person needs to consult a doctor.

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Using a baking soda nasal rinse can help clear the nose from the mucus and the particles within it, including viruses and bacteria. A 2023 study notes that nasal irrigation preparations containing baking soda cleared SARS-CoV-2 effectively in 55 people with mild to moderate symptoms. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.

Nasal washes or rinses containing baking soda can be particularly helpful in thinning the mucus out and making it clear.

People with allergic rhinitis and acute or chronic sinusitis might consider using baking soda nasal rinses regularly. This can help keep airways clear from mucus and reduce the risk of infection.

A sodium bicarbonate nasal rinse can also help treat and relieve symptoms of conditions such as:

Sodium bicarbonate rinses have other benefits. They help clear dust, pollen, and other irritants that can enter the nose. Also, they can help reduce the production of excess mucus and swelling that certain allergies cause.

Safety considerations

Baking soda in nasal rinses is usually safe, and people tolerate them well.

However, a 2020 case report found sinus rinses are a risk factor for developing a bacterial meningitis infection. The researchers highlight that it is unclear whether sinus irrigation can lead to the infection. Therefore, more research is necessary to explain the association between the two.

Some safety tips to consider include:

  • Avoid using a nasal rinse before bed, as the solution may drip into the back of the throat when someone lies down, causing them to cough.
  • Only add the exact amount of baking soda the instructions or doctor’s advice recommend.
  • Keep nasal solutions out of reach of children.

If a person experiences discomfort or notices that the nasal rinse is not providing any benefit, they should stop using it immediately.

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, to prepare a saline wash using baking soda, people can follow these steps:

  • Mix 1 teaspoon (tsp) of baking soda with 3 tsp of iodide-free salt and store it in a clean, small, airtight container.
  • Add 1 tsp of this mixture to 1 cup, or 8 ounces (oz), of boiling or lukewarm distilled water.
    • In case of a stinging or burning sensation in the nose, reduce the amount of powder dissolved in the water to produce a weaker nasal wash solution.
    • Use half a teaspoon of powder and 4 oz of water for children.
  • Do not use the saline solution until it has cooled down, as it can burn the tissues in the airways if it is too hot.

To use a baking soda nasal wash, people can follow these steps:

  1. Take a nasal bulb and draw up the wash solution into the bulb.
  2. Tilt the head downward over a sink and turn it to the left. Insert the bulb into the top nostril and gently squeeze it to release about 4 oz of the solution into the nose while breathing through the mouth. The solution should come out of the left nostril in seconds.
  3. Adjust the position of the head if the solution goes down the throat or into the ear.
  4. Rotate the head to the other side and repeat the process.
  5. Gently blow the nose to prevent it from going into the ear, as this may cause discomfort.

A person who uses nasal medications must perform the nasal rinse before taking them.

If a person frequently experiences a runny or stuffed nose, they need to consult a doctor. They can determine the underlying cause of their symptoms and recommend the most appropriate treatment.

If a doctor recommends regular nasal washes with baking soda, a person can ask about the best way to prepare and use them. An individual always needs to report any discomfort or if symptoms worsen.

Baking soda nasal rinses are usually safe to use. They can provide relief for people with allergies, sinusitis, and other health conditions that cause a stuffed or runny nose.

People can buy sodium bicarbonate wash solutions online or at their local pharmacy. However, a person can also prepare a nasal rinse solution with baking soda at home. Individuals can consult a doctor if there are concerns or worsening of symptoms.