Kelly Bryant | 

15 DIY Cold & Flu Remedies You Need in Your Arsenal

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Cold and flu season rears its ugly head yet again, which means it’s time to stock up on all of the items you need to combat these intrusive germs. But it isn’t just about gathering tissues and medicine. Cold and flu remedies also mean life hacks for things like getting your kid to actually take that cough syrup. Or whipping up your own Pedialyte concoction in a pinch.

We’re not going to candy coat it: colds, the flu, and whatever else ails you are not fun in the slightest. But hopefully our list of DIY cold and flu remedies will make the least wonderful time of year a little easier. And by easier we mean not having to wrestle a 6-year-old over cold medicine. Nobody needs that.

Want some DIY cold and flu remedies to have you ready for the colder months? Check out our favorite tips, and also make sure to find great medicine deals. Don’t forget to download The Krazy Coupon Lady app to get money-saving advice sent straight to your phone.


1. Dip a Dum Dum lollipop in cough syrup if your child hates the taste of medicine.

person dipping dum dum lollipop into liquid medication

Why Dum Dums? Dum Dums work best because they’re small and easy to dunk in a small medicine measuring cup. Plus, there are a bajillion different flavors of Dum Dums, so your kid likely has a favorite. Medicine looks a lot more appealing when it comes with a side of lollipop.


2. Mark on the medicine bottle to remind yourself of doses.

liquid pain reliever bottle with tracking chart

If you can’t remember what you ate five minutes ago, much less when you administered that last dose of medication, this hack is for you. Keeping track on the side of the bottle means you’ll always known when medicine was last taken.


3. Rub Vicks on the bottom of your feet, then put on socks before bed to ease a bad cough.

vicks vaporub being held by packaging box

Vicks contains eucalyptus oil, which has antibacterial qualities and is used as a decongestant. Rubbing it on your feet offers a cooling effect, which is thought to provide comfort when you’re feeling hot and gross while battling a cold. It won’t, however, break a fever. This is purely for your comfort.



4. Control the spread of germs by attaching an empty tissue box to a full one with two rubber bands.

person in bed blowing nose with two tissue boxes nearby

Once you’ve gone through a tissue box (and during cold and flu season, we all finish plenty), use that empty as a trash bin for your next round. Rubber band the new box together with the empty box. Then use the empty to stash used tissues. Instant, disposable trash can!


5. Wash hands to keep germs from spreading, and limit kids’ soap use with a rubber band.

person pumping hand soap with rubber band to control flow

Don’t ask us why, but kids love to go nuts with hand soap. While we are all for routine hand washing to keep germs at bay, make it harder for them to plow through an entire bottle. Wrap a rubber band around the pump so that only a small amount is dispensed at once.


6. Disinfect toys in the dishwasher.

placing toys in the dishwasher to disinfect

One easy way to de-germ a bunch of toys at once is to place them in the dishwasher. These playthings become gross quickly. While cleaning them may feel like an unwanted step, it really cuts back on exposure to cold and flu germs in a household.


7. Use your Crock-Pot as a humidifier.

pouring water into slow cooker

Fill your Crock-Pot about three-quarters of the way up with water, cover, and turn the setting on high. After about an hour, let the moisture escape into the air. Make sure to refill the pot with room temperature water as needed — and don’t let the pot run when there’s nothing in it!



8. Make your own Pedialyte to stay hydrated.

person pouring drink into glass

If you have the below ingredients, there’s no need for a pharmacy or grocery run when you can make your own Pedialyte for hydration.

What You Need

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Orange or cranberry juice for flavor


  1. Heat 2 cups of water so that it’s hot enough to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  2. Stir in salt and sugar until dissolved.
  3. Pour the hot water mixture into a pitcher or lidded container.
  4. Refrigerate until cool.
  5. Add a splash of orange or cranberry juice. Stir well.
  6. Serve cold and store remaining “Pedialyte” in the fridge.

person adding sugar and stirring for homemade pedialyte

Related: How to Clean the Mold & Funk Out of Water Bottles


9. Drink warm Jell-O and honey to relieve a sore throat.

person holding strawberry jell-o box in store

Instead of chilling your Jell-O mixture, heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds with some honey. The gelatin in the mixture will soothe your sore throat. It’s a nice alternative to tea if you’re craving other flavors.


10. Or eat marshmallows.

person with sore throat in bed eating marshmallows

Much like Jell-O, the gelatin in marshmallows helps coat your throat and relieves soreness. Plus, who doesn’t love a reason to eat marshmallows? You probably already have these treats lying around for hot cocoa, so pop a few for a little throat relief.


11. Drinking pineapple juice also soothes sore throats.

whole pineapple and glass of juice

Some people claim that drinking pineapple juice is five times more effective than cough syrup. The bromelain in fresh pineapples has anti-inflammatory properties and fights infections.



12. Treat dry skin and chapped lips with honey.

person applying honey to chapped lips

All that sneezing, congested mouth-breathing, and nose blowing can cause chapped skin. Apply honey for instant, natural moisture. Bonus: it tastes sweet (and not just like sweet relief).


13. Eat ginger.

person cutting up ginger root

There’s a reason you’ll find ginger in most (if not all) drinkable immunity shots. Ginger helps battle cold and flu symptoms: it encourages clearer sinuses, eases muscle pain and inflammation, and detoxifies. Just beware that this stuff has a kick, so start slow.


14. Create your own vapor rub shower melts.

A person making homemade vapor rub shower melts

To make these effective shower melts, you’ll need an ice cube tray, vapor rub like Vicks, cornstarch, and food coloring (only if you’d like on that last one). Once your mixture solidifies in an ice cube tray, place a cube in the shower. The warm water will help release soothing vapors.


15. Fill a white sock with heated sea salt to relieve an earache.

person heating up bowl of salt and pouring into sock

Earaches are truly a nuisance, so we really appreciate this cold and flu remedy. Sea salt is naturally antibacterial, and the heated salt will help draw moisture and toxins out of the infected ear.

What You Need

  • 1 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1 large white sock
  • A rubber band
  • A microwave-safe dish


Heat the coarse sea salt in a microwave-safe dish for about three minutes (longer if the salt isn’t hot after that amount of time). Fill a large, white sock with the hot salt and tie a knot with the loose end (or use a rubber band). Test the temperature of the sock by placing it on your inner wrist (don’t use near your ear in case it’s too hot). Place the salt sock over and under the infected ear and lie down.

person heating up bowl of salt and pouring into sock




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