How to dry up phlegm

Updated February 21, 2017

"Phlegm" describes the increased mucus produced in your respiratory tract in response to a variety of illnesses and activities, such as a allergies, colds, bronchitis or smoking. The cause of mucus production will influence its duration. For instance, phlegm due to smoking will likely be an ongoing problem, while phlegm from the common cold should clear up on its own within a few weeks. Whatever the source, you can take steps to help the phlegm dry up sooner.

Take an over-the-counter antihistamine to dry up phlegm in your upper respiratory system.

Take a cough medicine with guaifenesin, which is an expectorant, to help propel some of the phlegm out through coughing. Guaifenesin will loosen the phlegm so you can cough it up.

Drink 250 ml of clear fluid such as water or juice every two hours to keep yourself hydrated and help thin the mucus.

Use a vaporiser or take a hot shower to loosen the phlegm so you can bring it up with coughing. Hot beverages such as herbal tea or soup can also help to loosen phlegm.

Run a humidifier during dry weather and in winter to keep the air in your home moist.


Spit out any phlegm that comes up from a cough. Avoid swallowing it.


Get a doctor's approval before self-medicating; be especially careful if you have a medical condition. Get any chronic phlegm or coughing checked out by a doctor, since these can be symptoms of a serious illness. Avoid caffeinated beverages, since caffeine is a diuretic and consuming it can cause dehydration.

Things You'll Need

  • Antihistamine
  • Vaporiser
  • Clear fluids
  • Hot, caffeine-free beverages, such as herbal tea or soup
  • Humidifier
  • Cough medicine with an expectorant, such as guaifenesin
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About the Author

Donna Tinus has been a writer since 2005. She has a background in medical terminology and has written articles for various websites on topics such as family, finance, medicine, health, pets, gardening, beauty and relationships. Tinus holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Centenary College.