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9 May 2022 / Caitlin Devlin

How to decongest with essential oils

Learn how to get rid of this unpleasant symptom safely and effectively.

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Women sitting in bath with her arms resting on the side of the bath

Blocked noses can be an uncomfortable side effect of many illnesses.

From seasonal allergies to colds and flus, many things can cause our sinuses to become blocked and make it difficult for us to breathe freely.

You may have heard some essential oils described as ‘decongestant’ or ‘expectorant’, which means that they have the ability to shift mucus and phlegm that builds up in our respiratory system and expel it from the body, opening up our airways. But how do we access these benefits?

As is always the case with essential oils, it’s important to know the right way to handle these potent natural products so that we can get the best use out of them and keep ourselves safe in the process.

Here’s how to properly decongest with essential oils.


There’s a few different ways to use essential oils for a blocked nose.

Method one: Add a few drops of essential oil to a tissue and hold near to the face. Breathe in deeply through the nose several times, and then blow your nose into a clean tissue. Repeat as needed. This method allows you to directly inhale the oil, letting it get to work expelling mucus from your airways.

Method two: Add a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of boiling water. Place a tea towel over the head so that the steam is trapped. Inhale deeply through the nose, pausing to blow your nose as needed. This method uses the steam to carry the oil droplets into your respiratory system.

Method three: Add a few drops of essential oil to a hot bath and breathe in deeply through your nose as you sit in it. This method again uses steam to carry the oil vapours, with the added bonus of deeply relaxing you.

Method four: Dilute the essential oil heavily with a carrier oil. Rub onto the chest until the mixture is absorbed by the skin. This method is particularly effective for the management of cough symptoms and can encourage the expulsion of phlegm.

Women with cold sits on sofa and blows her nose into a tissue

Are there any risks?

When applying essential oils to skin, you should always heavily dilute with a carrier oil and patch test first. You should also take care when using boiling water. Aside from protecting your skin from burns or scalding, you should ensure that when inhaling steam you don’t overheat or become dehydrated, and that you allow yourself to breathe in cool air as needed.

Which oils should I use?

We’ve broken down all the best essential oils to use for a blocked nose for you, so you won’t have to go hunting.

Tea tree, ginger and peppermint essential oil are all old favourites for decongesting, but there are plenty more oils that can help to free up your airways. Discover them here.

In summary:

  • Inhaling essential oils through the nose can help to clear sinuses and allow easier breathing.
  • You can add oils to a tissue, boiling water, the bath, or even apply directly to the chest in order to feel their benefits.
  • Never apply oils undiluted to the skin and always take care when using boiling water.

Shop our range of essential oils here.

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