Saline nasal spray can be made quickly and inexpensively at home by dissolving half a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda in one cup of warm water. As a decongestant for a blocked or runny nose, this saline nasal spray should be applied to the nostrils between three and four times per day, as directed by MedlinePlus.
Another recipe for saline nasal spray uses 3 heaped teaspoons of iodine-free salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 cup of boiled water. Mix the salt and the baking soda together before adding the water. If stinging occurs during use, make the solution weaker, advises the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Apply the solution to the nostrils using a rubber bulb syringe.
An alternative to saline nasal sprays, which can be bought over the counter from pharmacies, is to place a warm, damp cloth over the face a number of times each day until the congestion has abated. Inhaling steam may also help, for instance by sitting near a hot shower and breathing. It is important to ensure that the steam is not too hot, however. Setting up a vaporizer or humidifier in a room might also help relieve symptoms of a blocked or runny nose.
If using store-bought nasal sprays, it is recommended to use them on no more than three consecutive days then to take three days off, according to MedlinePlus. However, a doctor may direct patients to use a nasal spray more frequently.