One of the many unpleasant cold symptoms, chest congestion can make breathing a Herculean task. It is a common companion of major cold and flu symptoms like a runny nose, coughing and sneezing. The natural remedies listed here can help you to safely get rid of chest congestion fast and easily at home.

chest congestion


Causes and Symptoms of Chest Congestion

  • Chest congestion is a symptom rather than a disease in itself and is chiefly caused by viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Common colds, the flu, bronchitis, pneumonia and tuberculosis are some of the conditions that may bring on chest congestion.
  • Severe chest congestion may interfere with the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood throughout the body, causing congestive heart failure.
  • Chest congestion can be described as an accumulation of fluids and mucus in the lungs. It is marked by difficulty breathing, pain, discomfort, coughing and wheezing. The cough may be dry or mucus-expelling, depending on the condition.

Prevention of Chest Congestion

  • Smoking should be avoided, especially if you’re already suffering from the flu. Tobacco smoke can act as an irritant and cause dysfunction in normal mucus production.
  • If you’re suffering from the flu and have a mild cough, avoid chilled beverages and iced drinks until you’re back in good shape. Also, avoid oily foods as they promote mucus production in the chest lining.

How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion

Popping pills right off the bat is not the right way to treat common respiratory ailments, including chest congestion. In such cases, the drugs usually do more harm than good by disrupting the body’s normal recovery process.

On the other hand, natural remedies work with the body and not against it to achieve a full recovery.

The natural remedies listed below will help you get rid of your chest congestion and breathe easy.

Method 1: Use a DIY Decongestant

This DIY decongestant has all the right ingredients to help ease symptoms and promote healing.


Due to the probiotics present in apple cider vinegar, it can help beat your congestion at its root by targeting the infection itself. Lemon juice will provide your body with vitamin C, which can help neutralize the effects of the pathogens in your body. (3)

Cayenne pepper can help clear your sinuses and thin out the mucus. Ginger will boost your immune system and prevent mucus buildup. (4)

The purpose of honey in the recipe is not just to improve taste. Honey has bactericidal properties to treat the infection and will also relieve the soreness in your throat.

Things you’ll need:

diy decongestant for chest congestion

  • Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV) (targets the infection) – ¼ cup
  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed (helps neutralize the effects of bacteria) – ¼ cup
  • Raw honey (treats the infection) – 3 tablespoons
  • Ginger powder (prevents mucus buildup) – ½ teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper powder (helps clear sinuses) – ½ teaspoon

Step 1. Simmer lemon juice and ACV in a pan

simmer lemon juice and acv in a pan

  • Pour ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice into a pan.
  • Pour in ¼ cup of raw, unfiltered ACV as well.
  • Place the pan over heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.

Step 2. Stir in cayenne and ginger powder along with honey

stir in cayenne and ginger powder along with honey for chest congestion

  • Take the pan off the heat.
  • Add ½ teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and ginger powder to it.
  • Pour in 3 tablespoons of raw honey.
  • Mix the ingredients thoroughly.

Step 3. Store and use the decongestant daily to clear chest congestion

store in an appropriate container chest congestion

  • Pour the mixture into a container.
  • Shake well before each use to get the most out of the remedy, as the powders in the recipe tend to settle.
  • Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mixture daily to relieve chest congestion.

Repeat the remedy until the congestion clears.

Method 2: Use Onion

Onion is one of the oldest natural remedies used to get rid of chest congestion. Sulfur and quercetin present in onions are responsible for the stinging and the waterworks that get going when you get near a fresh-cut onion. (4)(5)


They can also be of immense help to facilitate decongestion when you’re struggling to breathe.

Things you’ll need:

onion for chest congestion things need

  • Onion, peeled and quartered (relieves chest congestion) - 1
  • Clean towel

Step 1. Cut and heat an onion

heat an onion for chest congestion

  • Peel an onion and cut it into 4 parts.
  • Heat the cut onion in the microwave for 2 minutes.

Step 2. Make a poultice

make a polutice for chest congeston

  • Remove the hot onion pieces from the microwave and put them into a small towel.
  • Bundle up the towel to make a poultice.

Step 3. Place the warm onion poultice on your chest or back

place the poultice on your chest

  • Test the temperature of the poultice so that it’s bearable.
  • Place the onion poultice on the bare skin of your chest or back. Keep it there for 30 minutes at a time.
  • For best results, cover the poultice with a warm compress.

Do this daily until the chest congestion is gone.

Method 3: Use Steam with Essential Oils

The best way to break up congestion is to steam it out with essential oils. Steam carries the essential oil vapors through the nasal cavity to the area gripped with congestion.

The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of essential oils make them effective against the infection that’s causing the congestion. (1)

Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are the most appropriate choices when it comes to decongestion, as both are effective in clearing out the nasal passages.

Eucalyptus oil is considered an excellent expectorant. Not only does peppermint oil soothe and calm the body, it also has analgesic properties.

Things you’ll need:

steam with eseential oils for chest congestion

  • Water – 2 cups
  • Eucalyptus essential oil (clears nasal passage) – 5 to 10 drops
  • Peppermint essential oil (soothes and calms your body)– 5 to 10 drops

Step 1. Boil the water and pour it into a bowl

boil water and pour it into a bowl for chest congestion

  • Pour 2 cups of water into a pan and bring it to a boil.
  • Pour the steaming hot water into a bowl.

Step 2. Add in the essential oils

add in the essential oils to the water for chest congestion

  • Put 5 to 10 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils into the bowl of steaming water.

Step 3. Steam out the congestion

steam chest congestion

  • Cover your head with a towel, making a sort of tent to trap the steam.
  • Bend over the bowl to breathe in the vapors of the essential oils. As your nasal passages start opening, breathe in as slow and deep as you can.

Repeat 2 or 3 times daily until the congestion goes away.

Method 4: Use a Vapor Rub

# Vicks Vapor Rub

Vicks Vapor Rub is a common household name and is considered a cure-all for a majority of cold-related ailments. Some of the active ingredients in the popular brand formula are eucalyptus oil, turpentine oil and camphor, all of which are considered very effective decongestants.

When applied on the chest, you can breathe in its vapors. This helps the active ingredients reach into the body easily and work to relieve congestion. (2)

Single-Step Treatment: Apply Vapor Rub on your chest and breathe

apply vicks vaporub to clear chest congestion

  • Take some Vicks Vapor Rub on your fingers and rub it over your chest and throat.
  • Cover the area with a towel or a thick cloth.

Repeat the remedy until you find relief from congestion.

 Note: The normal Vicks formulation is not suitable for children under age 2.

# DIY Vapor Rub

If you’re wary of the popular vapor rub brands and don’t trust the ingredients that they might be using, a DIY vapor rub is just what you need. It’s simple to make, easy to use and can be applied to people of all ages without fear of any side effects.

diy vaporub

It contains choice essential oils in a skin-friendly base of coconut oil and shea butter. Eucalyptus and peppermint oils, known for their benefits against colds, congestion and mild fevers, are the main constituents.

Lavender and lemon oils lend more than calming effects to the rub and work as an antihistamine and an immune-booster, respectively. This recipe also contains tea tree oil for added benefits.

All you need to do is gather the ingredients, whip them up, store the resulting vapor rub and use as needed until your chest congestion is treated completely. This gentle formulation can be safely used on children.

Note: Do not apply this DIY vapor rub directly over or under the nose. For infants or small babies, rub a small amount on the bottoms of their feet only and put their socks on.

Tips to get relief from chest congestion

  • If the DIY homemade decongestant proves too strong for you, reduce the amount of cayenne pepper and ginger powder to half.
  • When stored in a cool and dark environment, the DIY decongestant can keep for a long time.
  • Shea butter can be substituted with cocoa butter in the DIY vapor rub recipe or skip it all together, if need be. A simple coconut oil base can be used in a pinch.
  • Add beeswax to the DIY vapor rub to give it a firmer texture.
  • Some other essential oils that can be used to make a DIY vapor rub to get rid of chest congestion include thyme, basil, rosemary, pine, clove, marjoram and chamomile.


  1. Choi SY, Park K. Effect of Inhalation of Aromatherapy Oil on Patients with Perennial Allergic Rhinitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. Published 2016.
  2. Scientific Research Publishing. Efficacy of a Topical Aromatic Rub (Vicks VapoRub®)-Speed of Action of Subjective Nasal Cooling and Relief from Nasal Congestion. Open Journal of Respiratory Diseases. Published January 26, 2015.
  3. Khalil AMSM, Gamal RM. Article Detail. International Journal of Advanced Research.`s-nocturnal-cough-and-their-sleep-quality-as-well-as-their-parents/. Published June 2015.
  4. Journals I, Invention.journals. Cough Suppressant Herbal Drugs: A Review. Issuu. Published August 2016.
  5. Wright CI. Natural Remedies for the Relief of Cold and Flu Symptoms: The Evidence for Garlic, Onion, Chilli and Chocolate . Journal of Traditional Medicine and Clinical Nuturopathy. Published July 2015.

Summary of How to Get Rid of Chest Congestion

get rid of a chest congestion

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