How to Gargle with Salt Water

“There’s no way I’m going to gargle with that, Mum!” This is one sentence every mother has to listen to when they tell their child how to gargle with salt water. Gargling with warm salt water soothes a sore throat is one belief that mothers and grandmothers all across the globe have stuck to over the past many decades. But the question is – does it really work or is it just an old wives’ tale?

Benefits of Gargling with Salt Water

Believe it or not, a warm gargle with salty water does help. It creates an alkaline environment inside your mouth by increasing the pH level. And since most bacteria are used to an acidic environment, an alkaline environment makes it difficult for them to live and breed in.

For those wondering how to gargle with salt water, know that being an isotonic solution, a salty water gargle does not irritate the mucous membranes. This is why it is encouraged by dentists to use 24 hours after a dental surgery.

A salty rinse can also help you with:

  • Sore throats that are a result of a cold, tonsillitis or strep.
  • Healing mouth sores and soothing the irritated area.
  • Acting as a temporary substitute for toothpaste or mouthwash in case of emergencies. 

How to Gargle with Salt Water


The recipe is rather simple. All that you need are warm water in an 8-ounce glass with a quarter to half a teaspoon of salt mixed in it.

Keep in mind that the water you use in your gargle should be chlorine-free, as this component tends to irritate your throat.

You can use water from the following resources:

  • Water from your home filter.
  • De-chlorinated water DIY:

This is the easiest way to get rid of chlorine – Pour your water in a big, wide container, and leave it there for a day. All the chlorine will evaporate throughout the day leaving behind chlorine-free water.

  • Bottled water

Sometimes, people (especially children and seniors) might genuinely find it a problem regarding how to gargle with salt water. It is because they aren’t used to the process, or because they do not like the salty taste at the back of their throats. In such cases, here are some things you can add:

  • 2 drops of garlic essential oil: This oil is renowned for its antibacterial property and an easily overpower the taste of the salt.
  • 2 drops of burdock: Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this ingredient helps take care of sore throats.
  • 1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil: Yet another substitute, and a blessing in disguise for children who love the taste of peppermint.
  • 1 teaspoon of honey: Science has repeatedly backed the soothing and healing properties of honey. Adding honey to your mouthwash will not only improve its chances of getting rid of your discomfort, but will also add in a wonderful flavor.
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar: The bacteria in your mouth can easily be killed by the acidic content present in the vinegar. But be warned – not a lot of people like its taste.

Steps on How to Gargle with Salt Water

  1. If you are doing this for the first time, then take in a small gulp of water, tilt your head backwards, open your mouth and put your tongue outside your mouth.
  2. Push air upwards from your throat to work up the gargle, and do so for at least 10 seconds.
  3. Keep gargling till you’re sure you’re not spitting out any mucus from your throat. You can repeat this process after every few hours when you’re sick, and can move to gargling once a day when you start feeling better.
  4. Don’t put off gargling till you actually get a cold. As soon as you feel you’re getting down with its symptoms (itchiness in your throat), start gargling. But keep in mind to stop immediately if it begins to hurt your throat. Gargling is meant to soothe your irritated throat and anything to the contrary means something is wrong.
  5. Always remember to massage your throat while gargling. You can facilitate the removal of mucus from your throat by massaging your upper throat, which helps the salty water reach a larger area of your throat, thus drawing out a bigger quantity of mucus. 
  6. The frequency with which you should gargle depends on how severe your symptoms are. Here’s a small breakdown for you:

Tips on How to Gargle with Salt Water

  • Respiratory congestion alongside your sore throat: gargling 3-5 times a day is recommended.
  • Sore throat without respiratory congestion: gargling 1-3 times a day is recommended.
  • An irritated and scratchy throat: gargling once every 1-2 days until symptoms resolve.


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