How to Get Rid of Phlegm: Causes, Home Remedies for Phlegm in Throat, Chest and Lungs

Phlegm is often an annoying aftermath of colds and upper respiratory tract infections. While it does not pose any serious health problem it may turn problematic. If not removed, phlegm may clog bronchial tubes and cause secondary infections. Below, find out how to get rid of phlegm in your throat, chest and lungs. Learn more on easy effective home remedies for phlegm.

What is Phlegm?



Phlegm is a thick gooey liquid secreted by mucus membranes particularly that which is expelled by coughing. Phlegm usually refers to mucus produced by the respiratory system excluding the nasal passages. It consists of glycoproteins, lipids, immunoglobulins and other substances.

Composition, smell and color may vary depending on genetics, climate and the state of immune system. Color may be pale, yellow, green, dark brown or grey depending on its constituents.

What Causes Phlegm?

It is important to note that phlegm is not mucus. Mucus is the normal protective layer of the airway, eyes or urogenital tract. It is produced by goblet cells and sub mucosal glands and consists mainly of water

Phlegm on the other hand is usually secreted during infection and inflammation along the airway. It contains mucus with bacteria, dead inflammatory cells and debris. The most common causes of phlegm in the throat and chest include:

  • Phlegm and mucus from allergies.
  • Post nasal drip. This occurs when excessive amount of mucus accumulates in the nose and back of the throat. Buildup of mucus and phlegm overnight may cause congestion in the morning
  • Phlegm after Flu or Cold. During a cold or flu, the body naturally produces a thin layer of mucus. Once the body begins to fight the virus, the thin mucus turns thick and yellow or green. This is due to the addition of dead cells and, bacteria, or debris.
  • Overuse or damage of vocal cords. Vocal cords need a thin layer of mucus to work best. However, this layer may get too thick due to overuse or damage.
  • Excessive smoking. Due to the later stages of a smoker’s cough, the cough may be wet bringing up phlegm every time. This is usually worst in the morning when you wake up.
  • Chronic Bronchitis or COPD. Yellow or dark green phlegm is usually a sign of lower respiratory tract infection.
  • Due to acid reflux. Reflux of the stomach contents into the throat causes tissue injury. This causes symptoms such as increased phlegm and post nasal drip.
  • Phlegm after surgery. After surgery such as tonsillectomy and thyroid surgery, patients find it hard to take deep breathes due to pain. This causes mucus to collect in the lungs

How to Get Rid of Phlegm in your Throat, Fast without Medicine

Getting rid of phlegm can be frustrating. The problem may take longer than expected to manage. Here is how to get rid of phlegm in your throat and chest without medicine

1. Gargle with Warm Salty Water

Gargling with Salty water is a cheap and easy way to irritating phlegm and mucus in your throat. Warm water soothes and moisturizes an irritated throat. Salt on the other hand serves to kill infection causing bacteria hence reduce the production of phlegm.

Gargle wtih salt water to get rid of phlegm

Gargle wtih salt water to get rid of phlegm

  1. Add a quarter teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water
  2. Mix thoroughly
  3. Gargle with the warm salty solution without swallowing
  4. This remedy is best done in the morning but can be repeated throughout the day

2. Coughing eliminates phlegm from throat

It is ok to loosen mucus from your throat by coughing. Find a lone place such as a bathroom and cough out chunks of mucus from your throat. Be careful as coughing too hard may cause tissue damage.

3. Drink Warm liquids to Get Rid of Phlegm Stuck in Throat

Drink up warm liquids to break up phlegm stuck in throat. Throat mucus loosen up as the liquids pass down to the esophagus. Warm chicken soup, warm tea or water is all you need. This also ensures you stay hydrated making it easier to expel thick phlegm.

4. Inhale Steam to Get Rid of Phlegm and Blocked Nose

Steam Inhalation to Get Rid of Phlegm

Steam Inhalation to Get Rid of Phlegm and Blocked Nose

Steam inhalation helps to keep nasal passages moist. It also keeps phlegm, mucus and snot in liquid form making it easier to eliminate. You can use these remedies several times a day.

  1. Put hot boiling water in a large boil/ you can steep in some chamomile tea. Hold a towel over your head and inhale in steam from the hot water.
  2. Alternatively, you can take long warm showers. Stay in a closed bathroom for 10 minutes. Be sure to moisturize afterwards as warm water robs your body of moisture.
  3. Use a humidifier to keep your mouth and throat moist and less irritated. A humidifier loosens phlegm from the lung and throat making it easier to cough up. It is all up to you to choose between warm or cool-mist humidifier to get rid of phlegm cough.

Be careful as warm-mist humidifiers could cause burns.

5. Eat Toast to Dislodge Phlegm Stuck in your Throat

Eating toast helps to dislodge mucus and phlegm stuck in your throat without spitting. It gently scrapes your throat and takes phlegm down to the stomach where it gets digested.

6. Hum Gently

It is thought that making humming sounds can help get rid of phlegm. The humming vibrations break down phlegm making it easier to spit out. Do this as a simple exercise to reduce the effects of mucus and phlegm when singing.

Home Remedies for Phlegm in throat and chest

Most of the times we get a wet cough, we rush to buy a cough suppressant or throat lozenges. A wet or productive cough should not be managed by cough syrups that are not labelled properly. Medicines that are not expectorants only allow the buildup of mucus and phlegm. Fortunately, there are equally and even better home remedies for phlegm.

Home Remedies for Phlegm and Mucus

Home Remedies for Phlegm and Mucus

These simple and easily available ingredients are also good with managements of coughs, colds and flu. Here is how to get rid of phlegm naturally.

7. Use Onions to Get Rid of Phlegm Fast

Onions doesn’t really sound like the best remedy for nose and throat problems. It has a pungent smell.  Onions however, have excellent antibiotic and expectorant properties. These help relax your throat and get rid of phlegm. It is also an anti-inflammatory that boosts your immune system and speed up healing process.

  1. Wash and finely chop a small onion
  2. Mix it up with two tablespoons of sugar
  3. Set this aside for half an hour (the result is watery)
  4. Take one tablespoon of this mixture every three hours

8. Drink Lemon Juice to Get Rid Phlegm while Singing

Lemons are loaded with antioxidants and Vitamin C that boost immune system and effectively fight disease. It is also a powerful astringent.

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with a tablespoon of honey.
  2. Add this mixture to a glass of how water.
  3. Drink this as many times as possible during the day to reduce production of phlegm.

Lemon juice breaks up phlegm while honey soothes the throat. This is one of the best home remedies for phlegm usually recommended for singers. Do not use ready-made lemon juice from the stores.

You can alternatively suck on a slice of lemon sprinkled with salt or pepper.

9. Get Rid of Phlegm Cough with Honey

Honey is commonly used as a remedy for chesty productive coughs. Numerous studies have found that honey works more efficiently in management of phlegm cough compared to over the counter medicines.

Honey is Good for Phlegm and Cough

Honey is Good for Phlegm and Cough

Dr. William Sears, a Pediatrician and Author agrees that “honey may be more effective at breaking up phlegm than over-the-counter decongestants.”

The darker the honey, the more effective it is.

Give a tablespoon of honey to children between 2-18 years to get rid of baby phlegm and cough.

DO NOT give honey to children under 1 year.

10. Ginger to Get Rid of Phlegm at Back of the Throat

Ginger and Honey for Phlegm

Drink ginger and honey tea is a good decongestant

Ginger is a natural antibiotic and anti-vital that helps to fight off upper respiratory tract infections. It is also a decongestant and expectorant that can be used by all ages.

  1. Finely slice or grate fresh ginger
  2. Add these slices to a cup of boiled water
  3. Let the ginger tea steep for 5-10 minutes
  4. Add two teaspoons of honey

Drink this several times a day to sooth the throat and get rid of phlegm at the back of your throat.

You can alternatively chew or raw slices of ginger several times a day to reduce production of mucus.

11. Use Turmeric to Get Rid of Phlegm without Throwing Up

Turmeric works by destroying bacteria that cause excessive mucus production. It is also an immune booster that speeds up healing.

  1. Add one tablespoon of turmeric to a glass of warm water or non-dairy milk. Drink this two to three times daily.
  2. Add turmeric and a pinch of salt to a glass of water. Use this solution to gargle several times during the day.

12. Eat Cayenne Pepper to Clear Phlegm

Cayenne pepper and other spicy foods stimulate a runny nose. They decongest and help loosen up phlegm from the throat and nose.

The best way to eat cayenne pepper is including it in your dishes.

13. How to Reduce Phlegm with Essential Oils Fast

There are a number of essential oils that are beneficial for the respiratory system. They can be effectively used for cough, pain relief and to reduce the viscosity of phlegm.

Essential Oils for Phlegm

Essential Oils for Phlegm

  • Eucalyptus oil loosens any mucus in the lungs and reduces inflammation in the respiratory system.
  • Cedar wood relieves respiratory muscles and loosens mucus in the lungs.
  • Tea tree oil treats underlying infections and clears bronchial congestion.
  • Myrrh reduces mucus accumulation in the lungs.
  • Sandalwood is an effective treatment for infections in the upper respiratory system. It relieves build up lung muscles as well.
  • Angelica has expectorant properties that expulse phlegm from the lungs.
  • Frankincense oil clears the lungs and regulates breathing.
  • Pine oil can help to loosen and get rid of mucus and phlegm from respiratory tract with its expectorant properties, thus helping curing cough and colds.

Here is how to use essential oils for phlegm and mucus

  1. Use a diffuser
  2. Make a balm
  3. Massage using oil to relieve chest congestion
  4. Add essential oils to a hot bath

Tips on How to Remove Phlegm from Throat

  • Avoid irritants. Hazardous fumes and irritants such as paint and cleaners. These trigger a natural response by the respiratory system to produce phlegm.
  • Blow your nose regularly. Letting phlegm to stay in your throat allows it to dry up- hence harder to eliminate
  • Nasal rinse
  • Avoid dairy products. The fat content in milk may cause phlegm and mucus to be thicker
  • Stop smoking. Smoking dries up the throat. The body reacts by producing more phlegm to moisturize
  • Reduce intake of chocolate and processed foods
  • Do not swallow coughed up phlegm. Keep a tissue in handy to expel phlegm
  • Do not cough hard or struggle to get rid of phlegm. It can damage your throat, you may end up with bloody phlegm

Phlegm that causes you to have difficulty in breathing should be addressed immediately by a doctor.

How to Get Rid Of Phlegm in Toddler and Infants

Colds and Flu are a common childhood ailments. It may be due to seasonal allergies, common colds, viral or bacterial infection. Excessive production of mucus and phlegm are common symptoms that can be easily managed at home.

Over the counter decongestants and expectorants are not recommended for children under 2 years. Some of the home remedies discussed above can effectively be used to loosen up baby phlegm in toddlers and infants.

  • Encourage the child to take lots of fluids thorough out the day to help eliminate phlegm quickly.
  • Give thick chicken soup. It contains amino acids that helps regulate while cells that make up phlegm
  • Avoid sugary drinks such as sodas and juices
  • To get rid of mucus in newborns, squeeze two drops of saline solution into your child’s nose three to four times a day.
  • Give 1 tablespoon of honey to children to get rid of to get rid of a flemmy cough

REMEMBER: Children below 2 years SHOULD NOT be given honey!

Watch this video on how to get rid of phlegm naturally

Sources and References

Essential Oils for Cough: New Health Advisor

Throat Mucus and Phlegm: Native Remedies

Natural ways to move mucus and expel phlegm: Natural News

Baby Phlegm in Throat: New Kids-Center