Snorting Listerine: Bad Idea?

I’ve long been a fan of using Listerine as an oral antiseptic: instead of flossing, I shoosh the stuff between my teeth in the morning, and have not had a tooth/gum infection since I started doing this (and I used to get them all the time).

Then I took to using Listerine at the first sign of a cold. One day I figured: the next time I get that tickly feeling at the back of my throat, I’ll start gargling the stuff as far to the back of my throat as I can without swallowing the stuff (which I did once by accident; it is HORRIBLE). Gargle, gargle, gargle, two or three times a day.

It may have been coincidence or selective memory at work, but since I have taken up this practice about 3 years ago, it seems to have helped on many occasions to ward off the sore throat and chest cold, but unfortunately leaving the nasal congestion.

Then last year I thought to myself: if Listerine can fight the good fight in the gums and throat, let’s carry the fight to the nasal cavity. I’d already been in the practice of snorting a small amount of water and holding it for 5-10 seconds before blowing my nose to, er, improve the yield in my Kleenexes. So I figured I’d add some Listerine to the water (about a 50/50 solution) and see how it went. After all, the nasal cavity connects with the throat, as anyone who has snorked milk out their nose while laughing or seen it happen can attest; maybe flushing some Listerine through that area would help.

Again, it may have been coincidence, but last winter I did the snorting and gargling of Listerine trick three times when I felt the onset of a cold coming on, and each time the symptoms stopped getting any worse and went away after 2-3 days. I’ve even grown to like the burning sensation: “Yes! Fire! Fire is the cleanser!”

When I mentioned this “trick” to coworkers who were coming down with colds, most thought I was crazy. No one ventured to try my method. They pointed out that the nasal tissues are very sensitive, which 's why people snort cocaine and other drugs. Also, if this were really effective, wouldn’t it have been discovered and promoted by the Listerine folks themselves in their advertising?

It so happens that I began to feel under the weather just today, and just did my first hit of the winter. I hope I’m not risking permanently losing or dulling my senses of smell (and taste) with this “treatment”… Am I?


But putting alcohol and the other ingredients up into your nose and sinuses can’t be a good thing. Alcohol is a drying agent. Is it drying out your mucus membranes?

Listerine contains about 27% ethanol, 54 proof. That’s got to hurt some even diluted 1:1.
Look up Nasal irrigation.

I wouldn’t go so far as call it a stupid idea. Listerine does kill germs and the germs in your nose do contribute to illness. It would tend to dry your mucous membranes out if it was used often in high concentrations but if you already have a runny nose, then I doubt that is a problem.

I think this is one idea that only well designed medical studies would be able to flush out (har!).

I say that your one man study has to run completely on your own intuition until you can get others on board with your brilliant discovery. Your last name isn’t Salk is it? If it is, that could get confusing in the history books.

Nasal irrigation

He’s some guy with a radio show, apparently, and has apparently received succesfull advice about inhaling boiled Listerine vapor from a doctor:

I have found a product called AYR, available at most drug stores, helps much better.

Snorting Listerine is going to burn-out your sinuses, and probably destroy your sense of smell to some degree. This has to be a bad idea.

To cleanse your sinuses of any virus causing pathogen, you should pour warm salt-water in your nose, and try to get it into your sinuses as much as you can stand.

The salt-water in question should be only slightly saltier than your tears, and only a few degrees warmer than room temperature. Water out of your home’s water heater is too hot, so let it cool some before you do this. Using greater salinity, or hotter water will have messy and painful results. My friend tried this with hot, very salty water, and she aspirated the water all over the kitchen.

The going theory is that by doing this you will increase the salinity of the surroundings to where a virus causing microbe cannot live.
Gargling with salt water has been an old-wives tale for years, which has some merit.

I have gargled, and “snorted” this with varying results. But in all cases I was able to keep going to work, and I did not feel as miserable while I had the cold.

I know that there was another general question related to this posted a couple of years ago.

Unless you’re doing it frequently, even though you do dry the mucus membranes, they do heal.
Of course, if you do it regularly, it could cause scarring of those mucus membranes, then you would find changes in taste and smell.
It’s likely the alcohol cools the tissue, making it inhospitable to the cold virus, as well as the simple act of irrigation washes them out.
Ficer67, your friend didn’t aspirate “all over the kitchen” Aspiration is the act of breathing foreign material into your lungs.

Do you have a cite for this “going theory”? I do quite a bit of medical reading, and have never run across it. As I said above, it’s the act of irrigation, just washing the virus away that may shorten the cold symptoms.
Also the saline solution you describe is similar to the salinity of normal body fluid, irrigating with a mild saline solution simply makes the process more comfortable. plain water burns more.

We discussed this topic in general questions some time ago. The best I can give you is a link to this discussion:

Just in case it doesn’t work, try searching for a thread entitled, “An old wives tail to consider”

Where did you get the nick, “Pickunurse?”

That is “Picunurse,” typos will be the end of me

I rather hope that my end comes in the form of an old wive’s tail.

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit nurse

What about something less painful like hydrogen peroxide I put it in my ears and gargle at the first sign of a cold and it seems to help a lot.

Well thats why they make citrus listerine now. Actually once at a party I took a shot of citrus listerine…yeah I was really drunk.

I’d be worried that this represents an incremental scale of Listerine (mis)use… where next for our friend robardin? Listerine eyewash? Listering enema? IV Listerine?

Use as directed unless otherwise instructed by a qualified medical practitioner (NB: this is not the same as unless otherwise instructed by a random stranger on the internet).

I cannot imagine snorting listerine. It’s pleasant stinging sensation in my mouth would be sheer hell in my nasal passages and more than likely do more harm than good. And who wants to smell listerine all day? GAH!

Instead, may I humbly and enthusiastically recommend: SinoFresh for bacteria blocking thingamagig.

Another one that is also very to excellent ( YMMV) good is Sinus Rinse for flushing out the nasal cavity.

Both are less damaging to your snozola.

I was given a box of that by my doctor after a sinus surgery. It works wonders.

I stand behind that product.

It’s kind of nasty to use however.

What’s that caveat/disclaimer you always read wutg Mutual Fund prospecti? “Past history is not an indication of future performance”? :wink:

That said… I’ve been making a lot of fried chicken lately, and it is the same color as while being cheaper than than peanut oil… :eek:

Helps much better that WHAT?

The only AYR product I could find at Walgreens was a relatively gel to apply to the nostrils and lips, not inside the nasal cavity. IMHO old fashioned petroleum jelly AKS “Vaseline” would do the same job and much much cheaper. A big jar of generic would be less that the gel, thank you.

I use a neti-pot (sold as “Sinus Cleanse.” Heat 8 oz H2O to 150 deg.F, cool to just warm to the wrist, add 1 tsp sea salt of any non-iodized table salt, add not more that 1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda as a buffer. Irrigate up to every two hours.