✓ Evidence Based

How to Get Rid of Phlegm: 10 Easy Ways

Do you often wake up with a stuffy nose or have excess phlegm? Many people suffer from excess mucus production, but there are many simple ways to diminish phlegm and keep it away for the long-term.

Phlegm is a thick substance that is present in the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. The levels of mucous produced depend on the current state of the immune system. For example, when someone has a cold, they will produce more mucus or phlegm.

There are many medications available to help stunt the production of phlegm, but did you know that there are other natural solutions that can prevent the buildup of mucus from producing in the first place?

How to Get Rid of Phlegm?

From avoiding food triggers to starting to develop habits you instill in your daily routine, check out these simple ways to diminish phlegm for good.

1. Stay Hydrated

Human bodies house nearly 60 percent water, so hydration is a critical component to keeping the body functioning well. Drinking enough water is essential to a healthy body and mind.

Drinking enough water can help to get rid of phlegm because it helps further flush out excess mucus production. (1) It can loosen mucus, helping it move through the respiratory tract faster.

While water is vital to drink, it is not the only liquid that can help to get rid of phlegm. Tea, fresh juice, and broths can help flush out mucus as well. Even lemon water can be a helpful addition for many. Many herbal and regular teas can help, such as peppermint, green, licorice, thyme, and more.

The next time you have too much phlegm, make sure you stick to the basics first and stay hydrated to help boost your immunity and decrease mucous.

2. Gargle with Salt Water

Saltwater or a saline solution can be helpful to get rid of phlegm because it helps remove mucus from the respiratory tract.

Gargle with warm salt water to get the most benefit from this solution. All you need to do is mix some sea salt with warm water, gargle the water for a minute or two, and spit it out.

You can repeat this several times throughout the day to get the most out of this natural way to get rid of excess phlegm.


3. Apply a Warm Compress to the Face

Heat can be a game-changing solution when it comes to remedying a cold, excess mucous, and even headaches. This method also helps to flush mucus out of the respiratory tract.

An easy way to utilize a warm compress is to get a washcloth and run it under hot water, letting it cool a bit before applying. Another way is to invest in an herbal microwavable heating pack.

Herbal heating packs tend to stay warmer for longer, and they can be helpful for cramps, headaches, as well as getting rid of phlegm. (2)

4. Avoid Dairy and Spicy Foods

Did you know that certain foods can cause excess mucus buildup producing more phlegm? Certain foods like dairy and spicy foods as examples can lead to more mucus. (3)

Dairy can be inflammatory food for many people, causing excess mucus and even digestive issues. (4) Many foods include dairy, even products you may not think of. Always read the food labels on any products if you are sensitive to dairy or develop an allergy to it.

Many people develop lactose intolerance later in life if not diagnosed at a young age. It is harder to digest certain types of dairy as well. Cow’s milk is harder to process than goat’s milk, for example. Cow’s milk has a different form of casein, which makes it harder on the digestive system.

Spicy foods can also bring up issues by producing more phlegm. One study in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that there is a correlation between cough reflex and eating spicy foods in healthy individuals. (5)

5. Use a Nasal Spray or Saline Solution

Nasal sprays are a popular over-the-counter solution to help flush excess mucus out of the body. There are two main ways to utilize nasal sprays.

You can opt for a nasal spray easily accessible in a local drugstore or try a saline solution like a neti pot. A neti pot is a tea pot-like device in which saline and water get mixed. Insert the neti pot at the start of the nostril, and the solution runs through to the other side.

Either of these solutions can be highly effective at getting rid of phlegm as well as helping reduce respiratory conditions. (6)

6. Pay Attention to the Air Quality

Phlegm can build up depending on the quality of the air in your environment. Keeping the air moist can help. Other things that can help are investing in an air filter.

Air filters can provide much-needed relief for those with too much phlegm. That is because air filters can get rid of excess dust and toxins in the room.

Particle pollution in the air can cause excess phlegm buildup (7), causing inflammation in the lungs and airways. Investing in an air filter and possibly a dehumidifier can help prevent mucus production.

7. Elevate Your Head when Sleeping

Excess phlegm can build up when you are sleeping, so it is critical to elevate your head as much as possible to help relieve congestion.

That is because a cough typically follows when you have excess phlegm. Excessive coughing can drastically alter a good night’s sleep.

Rest and at least 7-9 hours of sleep are essential to have every night, especially when you are feeling under the weather. Never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep to help beat a cold faster.

8. Blow Your Nose and Cough it Out

That may sound like a simple and obvious solution, but many people repress phlegm when it comes up, which can create issues, such as sinus infections, and more.

It is crucial to keep tissues in reach when you are suffering from too much phlegm. Suppressing a cough is another habit that can make it more difficult to get rid of phlegm. It can lead to further health obstacles, so always let the cough go.

Get rid of mucous or phlegm as soon as possible, right away if you can. That will help to ensure you will not get an infection or health complication later.

9. Try Adding Eucalyptus to the Bathroom

Eucalyptus is a powerful plant that has many health benefits, including producing healing properties in the air when exposed to steam in the shower.

One way to get the benefit of eucalyptus is to hand a plant around your shower head. The steam will naturally release the healing oils in the plant, allowing for better breathing.

The aroma that comes off can make it feel like you have turned your ordinary shower into a relaxing spa. Try this simple solution or grab some eucalyptus oils if that is more convenient to reduce phlegm buildup.

10. Avoid Trigger Foods and Drinks

Milk and spicy foods are not the only culprits of excess mucus production. Foods that cause acid reflux can trigger phlegm buildup even more, also including spicy foods.

Other foods differ from person to person, but often include coffee, high fat and highly processed foods, citrus fruits, carbonated drinks, chocolate, red meat, and more.

Diet is the number one most important part of keeping a healthy body, and reducing excess phlegm is a part of that. Always be sure to find a diet you can stick to for the long-term. Stay healthy and mucous free by eating fresh, whole foods to nourish your body well.


Getting rid of phlegm can have many simple solutions from changing the way you sleep, adding new natural habits, being mindful of your daily diet, and more.

If you try all these solutions and still suffer from excess phlegm, make sure to reach out to your doctor or healthcare professional to see how they can help you.

While natural solutions can help get rid of excess mucous, other solutions can help as well. A healthcare professional can help you get to the bottom of the reason for excess mucous and sometimes offer necessary medications if you have an infection.