I don't remember where I first heard about neti pots, but I started using one about 10 years ago for both prevention and treatment of upper respiratory crud. I may have heard about them from another singer. Singers loooooove neti pots, since we like our respiratory tracts clear and primed for optimal performance.
Mine looks like this:
It is the entry-level model you're likely to find at your local food co-op, hippie store, or Whole Foods. You can also order them from any number of internet stores.
The basic function of a neti pot is to irrigate your nasal passages with delicious salt water in order to keep things moving along, thereby preventing irritation and infection from taking hold. It's especially useful if you have allergies, sinus problems, the delightfully-named post-nasal drip, or are waging war against invading virus or infection. So basically, that means all of yous.
This is the instructional video for the neti pot, a work of film that is notable for its dead-eyed neti practitioner. It's particularly spooky with the sound off, which is the only way I've watched it. Not surprisingly, there are LOADS of neti pot videos on youtube, so if you are not sure you're doing it right OR you simply would enjoy watching a bearded comic book artist flush his nose with various liquids including coffee and bourbon, please be my guest. (It's the "Jackass" of neti pot videos.)
To harness the power of the neti pot, fill it with warm water and mix a fat 1/4 tsp of non-iodized salt (I use pickling/canning salt) into it. When it's all dissolved, I taste it to make sure the water is salty enough. Too little salt and the shit will BURN. Too much and ditto. Anyway, tilt your head to the left, plug the pot into your right nostril, and let gravity do the work. When the water has run its course, blow gently to clear things up, and repeat on the left side with a new tank of salt water.
Also, be sure you are standing over a sink.
Under normal circumstances, you will blow out mostly clear and innocuous stuff and you will feel light and cleansed. If you're on the downside of a cold, like I am, you will blow out all the sticky noxious stuff that is hanging around up in your grill, clinging to your sinuses, and refusing to be blown out into a kleenex. It is a totally gratifying process, one I could probably be doing 3 times a day with copious results each time.
There are simple yoga stretches you can (and should) use to make sure all the water is out. You don't want water sitting around in your nose.
There were years when I did this every single day. More recently I've felt like I cannot possibly add another thing to my pre-bedtime routine; it's hard enough to take an extra minute for flossing. However, you can bet that if I had any chronic schnozz problem I would be doing this on the regular. In conclusion: neti pots are rad. Clear nasal passages: radder still. Taking control of your respiratory health: raddest of all.