How To Get Rid Of A Cold - Home Remedies, Best Medicines & Top Tips

How To Get Rid Of A Cold - Home Remedies, Best Medicines & Top Tips


Achoo - it's time to learn how to get rid of a cold, once and for all!

Today we're sharing the best home remedies, medicines, and general top tips to get you feeling yourself again in no time at all.

How do you get a cold?

Woman sneezing
Achoo! ©MediaDefense

Colds are extremely common. Adults average two to four colds every year, while children can get as many as 12.

Why do we get so many? Well, there are more than 200 viruses that can cause them. Anytime we come in contact with one of these viruses - whether that be inhaling particles from an infected person's sneeze, or touching a contaminated doorknob - we risk picking up the virus.

The most common cold-causing virus are Rhinoviruses, which can live up to three hours on surfaces and hands.

 Think you have a cold? Then you'd better read this...

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Common cold symptoms in adults

If you're feeling a little under the weather, you can do a quick self-diagnosis by checking your symptoms against the list below.

  • Blocked nose
  • Mild headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Slight body aches
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue/feeling of unwellness 
  • Mild fever

How to get rid of a cold

We have both good and bad news to share. The bad is that common colds are actually incurable.

The good is that there are lots of common cold remedies that can be extremely useful for easing the symptoms, and some say, evening speeding up the recovery process.

General tips for treating a cold

Woman sleeping common cold
Get some shut-eye. ©Pixabay

Whilst almost everyone has their own weird cold remedies, there are a few things that most people, from doctors to grandmothers agree on:

  • Act fast 
  • Get lots of sleep
  • Keep warm
  • Drink lots of fluids (water is preferred)
  • Eat lots of nutritious food

Common cold remedies

Treating a cold is actually a very personal thing. Many of us have cold remedies that have been passed down through the generations, or a certain treatment we've tried that's done just the trick.

You can use a mixture of home remedies for colds, and cold medicines and see what you prefer - just be sure not to overdo it.

How to get rid of a cold - home remedies

We love home remedies here at Expert Home Tips. Not only are they simple and cheap to do, but we believe natural - wherever possible - is best. Try out these cold remedies next time you have cold symptoms.

1. Sweating out a cold

This one couldn't be easier, and some people find it effective. Whilst the last thing you may feel like doing when you have a cold is hitting the gym, it could actually do you the world of good.

Sweating out a cold may not only make you feel uplifted physically but also mentally, thanks to the rush of endorphins produced through exercise.

2. Gargle with salt water

Gargling with salt water to treat a sore throat is a home remedy most of us have tried in our time.

Surprisingly, it does actually seem to work. Dilute a little table salt in lukewarm water, gargle, and spit out. Repeat a few times a day to soothe a sore throat.


Want a really wonderful way to treat a cold?

3. Have a detox bath

epsom salts
Epsom salts are seriously relaxing.

Colds can be stressful. A nice way to help ease the strain is taking a detox bath. Sprinkle some Epsom Salts or a few drops of your favourite essential oils into the water, and you'll leave feeling much more relaxed.

4. Chew on some lovage seeds

Want to know how to get rid of a cold, in a completely natural way? Lovage seeds could be the answer.

Lovage seeds are native to Southern Europe, but they're relatively easy to get hold of in the UK too. They're known for being one of nature's best antibiotics - chewing on the seeds or making them into a tea from which to gargle have been known to soothe the throat, much like a lozenge.

5. How to get rid of a cold with a spoonful of honey

how to get rid of a cold with honey
Mmm, delicious!

There are lots of surprising uses for honey. It's completely natural, and can be extremely beneficial, both inside and out.

Having a teaspoon of honey before going to bed has been proven to reduce coughing and improve sleep for those with common colds.

6. Have a hot shower

A hot shower almost always makes you feel better. When you've got a cold, not only will a shower help you to feel clean and refreshed, but the steam can help clear the airways and make breathing easier.

7. Will chicken soup cure your cold?

When you're sick, it's more important than ever to give your body the nourishment it needs - even if you don't feel like eating much.

Chicken soup is always a great option. It's healthy, warming, wholesome and also easy to make, eat and digest. No wonder granny always uses to recommend it!


Check out this weird home remedy everyone should try at least once:

8. Garlic for a cold

garlic clove broken
Are you brave enough?

This one is not for the lighthearted, but there is a lot of research to back it up.

Garlic is a natural antibiotic and decongestant, making it an ideal common cold treatment. The catch? It's only effective in its raw state. If you're brave enough to give it a go, peel and crush a whole garlic clove and get chewing!

9. Get lots of Vitamin C

 The first thing many people do when they feel a cold coming on, is reach for the Vitamin C. Some people prefer orange juice, whilst others take supplements from the chemist.

Although there's no doubting clementines are a healthy, tasty treat, there's been nothing to prove that Vitamin C helps to reduce cold symptoms.

10. Chest massages

Cold symptoms can vary from person to person, and cold to cold. If you have a particularly bad cough, a chest massive can really help to reduce the strain.

Check this video out to learn how to get rid of a cold using acupressure - it's easy, and free!

11. Ginger tea

homemade ginger tea recipe

Many of us have experience 'swollen glands' during a bout of the common cold. There are many different home remedies for alleviating the pain, but ginger tea is by far our favourite.

Ginger is thought to contain as many as twelve antiviral substances which reduce inflammation, thin mucus and soothe coughing.

How to make ginger tea: Follow Cook For Your LIFE's easy tutorial to try making your own remedial tea today.

12. How to get rid of a cold using eucalyptus oil

You may not yet own any eucalyptus oil, but by the time you've read this you're sure to want some.

A few drops of eucalyptus oil added to hot water provides an extremely relaxing and effective decongestant when inhaled. Just be sure to close your eyes, as the fumes can be surprisingly powerful!


The next cold treatment is seriously unexpected...

13. Meditate

yoga mat and block at home
Take some time out to get your head together.

Colds can be extremely stressful, especially as they often seem to arrive at the most inopportune of moments!

Stress can lead to poor sleep and other issues, which will only slow down your recovery process. Meditation is an excellent way to help you chill out if your cold starts to get to you.

Taking a few, silent minutes out of your day can have a surprisingly dramatic impact on how you feel, inside and out. You'll leave the room feeling more positive and ready to take on the world - take that, nasty cold!

14. Lemon water

Another wonderful way to treat a cold naturally is using lemon. Lemon has antibacterial properties and provides effective relief for sore throats.

Pop a few slices in a mug of hot water and drink to experience its soothing effect. 

Discover these other 15 reasons to drink lemon water - you'll be amazed at what this simple home remedy can do for you!

How to get rid of a cold - over the counter medicines

If you'd prefer to skip the home remedies and go straight to your local chemist, there are three different treatments you can try.

1. Throat lozenges

If your symptoms include a sore throat, a throat lozenge could help ease the pain. Place the lozenge on your tongue and try to let it dissolve slowly, without sucking too much to reap its full effects.

They should leave you with a slightly-numbed mouth and ease discomfort. (They usually taste pretty nice too!)

2. Saline spray

A blocked nose can be extremely irritating, especially if it prevents you from breathing properly. To target the nose directly and provide almost-immediate relief, pick up a saline spray.

The spray is injected inside the nostril and will help to clear mucus so you can breathe easy.

3. How to get rid of a cold using pain relief

medication in hand
Always check with a pharmacist before taking medication. ©Flickr

The most common choice for most people is combination pain-relief tablets. These usually contain a combination of paracetamol, caffeine and other drugs.

They will ease any pain or discomfort you have, alleviate tiredness and generally act as a bit of a sickness 'pick-me-up'.

PLEASE NOTE: You should always check with a qualified pharmacist before taking ANY medication. This is particularly important when mixing treatments, as double-dosages can result in intense fatigue and other unpleasant side effects.

What you shouldn't do when you have a cold

There are some common misconceptions about the right way to treat a cold - are you unknowingly a culprit? Find out below:

1. Don't blow your nose when you have a cold

Woman with a cold blowing nose
Try & resist blowing! ©MaxPixel

This one might come as a bit of a shock, but blowing your nose will actually worsen cold symptoms.

Despite the often-immediate relief we feel after blowing our nose, doctors argue it is short-lived. This is because the nose will continue to produce new mucus, no matter how much you blow.

Better, is to try a home remedy such as inhaling eucalyptus steam, or a saline spray.

2. Why you shouldn't take antibiotics when you have a cold

Despite popular belief, antibiotics are ineffective for treating colds.

Colds are caused by viruses, whilst antibiotics are designed to treat bacteria-related illness. Not only will taking antibiotics have no effect on your cold symptoms, but they may cause further complications.

Antibiotics should only be taken when absolutely necessary. Over time, the body can build up a resistance, making them ineffective in the future when you really need them.

3. Combining medications

medication for a cold
Mixing meds is never a good idea.

When you have a cold, it's tempting to want to take all the different types of medication on offer. This is not a good idea - if you want to mix any kind of medication, you should always consult a qualifiest chemist before doing so.

Do you have any of your own special cold remedies to share with us? We'd love to hear them!

Stephanie C


Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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  1. Author David Blackmore on December 30, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Hmm sweating it out in a gym. Passing your germs onto potentially fit person who doesn't have a cold. Not a good idea. ????

    1. Author Stephanie C on January 2, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Hi David. If you're well enough to work you're well enough to gym! Providing you are not coughing all over the place and wash your hands regularly, the transmitting of germs shouldn't be an issue.

  2. Author Aysha on December 30, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to a lukewarm salt water gargle for sore throat as the cayenne pepper seems to numb the throat, even my kids (8 & 10) use this as it is very effective. You can rinse mouth (but not throat) with fresh water afterwards if you like.

    1. Author Stephanie C on January 2, 2018 at 11:00 am

      Hi Aysha. I've never tried cayenne pepper. Normally I find it very spicy so not sure this would work for me... Thanks for sharing!

  3. Author Sandy on December 31, 2017 at 12:01 am

    I've always found going to bed with a glass of honey, lemon and hot water mixed with a good dash of whisky or brandy to be very effective. Also, a cut-open onion on the pillow can help relieve symptoms.

    1. Author Stephanie C on January 2, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Hi Sandy. The cut-open onion sounds interesting, and even more so is the idea of brandy - it's definitely something we could get on board with ;)

  4. Author Vee on January 2, 2018 at 2:07 am

    Hitting the gym? Why? So you can share all those germs? I don't think so. There are plenty of sweat- inducing activities you can do alone. Keep your germs to yourself!

    1. Author Stephanie C on January 2, 2018 at 10:53 am

      Hi Vee. If you are well enough to go to work, you're well enough to hit the gym! Providing you do not cough all over the place and wash your hands regularly, you won't spread germs from inside your body.

  5. Author Trevor on May 9, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    One thing not even mentioned on here probably because colds are usually winter things and one of the things to help stop you getting them and building up your immune system is vitamin D. No use taking it in small doses as per government advice of 400 iu's though as it needs a minimum of 1,000 iu's and preferably more. I take 2,000 per day in the winter minimum. Also with your mention of vitamin C, it's no good eating the odd orange, you would need to eat a lot more than that. A one gram minimum per day and preferably more. I take two milligrams per day but if I have a cold, I will take up to six. I like your garlic idea though but it does take a lot to chew it. Eat it raw but put it on some toast with a couple of cloves per day, it's an easier way to eat it.

    1. Author Joanne A on April 11, 2023 at 12:14 pm

      Vitamin D and vitamin C are essential nutrients for immune function, and getting at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D and 75-90 mg of vitamin C per day is recommended. While garlic is known for its immune-boosting properties, adding it to toast or other foods can be an easier way to incorporate it into your diet.

  6. Author Caroley on October 7, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Go to bed with a mug of hot milk and brandy at the first sign of symptoms for about a week. Helps you sweat it out and a good nights sleep. Always works for me.

    1. Author Joanne A on February 17, 2023 at 11:55 am

      It is not recommended to drink alcohol when you have a cold. In addition, there is no scientific evidence that hot milk with brandy can cure or alleviate cold symptoms.


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