How to Use a Mucus Extractor on Kids

A mucus extractor, also called a bulb syringe, clears the nose of a child who has trouble blowing into a tissue.

Use one to clear your child's nasal passages, allowing him to breathe easier when sick and preventing mucus from running out his nose. Mucus extractors are inexpensive and available at many baby supply and drug stores, making them an affordable and indispensable addition to any parent's medicine chest.

Removing Mucus

Place your baby on her back and tilt her head up slightly.

Squeeze the bulb portion of the mucus extractor to remove the air. Gently insert the tip into your baby's nostril and release the bulb. The suction that is created pulls mucus from the baby's nose into the mucus extractor. Expel the mucus into a tissue.

Wipe the tip of the mucus extractor with the tissue and repeat as needed. Clear the other nostril in the same way.


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Clean the mucus extractor before and after use to prevent passing germs into your baby's nose. Fill a small container with warm, soapy water and soak the mucus extractor for several minutes. Squeeze the bulb into the water and suck some water into it.

Shake well and squeeze the water out. Repeat with clean, warm water.

Hang the mucus extractor, tip down. Air dry before storing.


A mucus extractor is generally safe, but may cause injury if improperly used. Avoid inserting the tip too far into your baby's nostril, which may cause inflammation and bleeding. Place the mucus extractor one-quarter to one-half inch inside your baby's nose to get the job done, according to the Baby Zone website.

In some cases, a mucus extractor works better if you angle it slightly when you place it in the baby's nostril.

If mucus is difficult to remove, place a couple of drops of saline in the baby's nostrils before using the mucus extractor.

Most babies don't like having their noses cleaned, which often makes it difficult to safely use a mucus extractor. If this is the case, the Baby Center website recommends stopping and trying again later.

Mouth Extractor

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Some mucus extractors work by placing one tube into your child's nostril and another into your mouth and connecting both to a small container.

To use, create suction by breathing in through the tube in your mouth, which pulls the mucus through the nasal tube and into the container. Some parents report more success with these products, but many are designed for a single use, making them more expensive and wasteful.