Are Hot Tub Chemicals Bad For You? What You Need To Know

Hot tubs can be a great way to bring the family together on a slightly chilly evening. They can also help your muscles to relax and help you to relieve stress. But are the chemicals in the hot tub causing more damage than good?

Standard hot tub chemicals like chlorine can cause damage to your skin and hair. But running your hot tub without chemicals isn’t an option either. So instead, look into using bromine or another salt system to purify your hot tub water, or monitor and keep the chlorine low. 

Curious about the options for sanitizing your hot tub without chlorine? Let’s look at what is available on the market and how long you should wait to use your hot tub after adding chemicals. 

Can Hot Tub Chemicals Harm You?

Portrait of young carefree happy smiling woman relaxing at hot tub during enjoying happy traveling moment vacation life

Most hot tubs rely on chlorine to keep them clean, but chlorine can cause damage to your body as well as to your swimsuit. At higher concentrations, chlorine acts like bleach, removing the color from your swimsuit and damaging the elastic, so it doesn’t fit as well over time. 

As far as your body goes, chlorine dries out your skin and can sometimes make you feel itchy. It will also make your hair dry and cause it to break easier. Because your scalp is already susceptible to being dry, this combination caused by chlorine can lead to dandruff. 

But it goes deeper than the surface. If chlorine gets into your body (which it does through your pores), it can destroy tissues, and some believe it can affect your fertility. In addition, those who are asthmatic often find themselves struggling to breathe because of the fumes chlorine gives off. 

Therefore it is safe to conclude that hot tub chemicals like chlorine can harm you technically, but before you panic too much, it’s important to note that drinking water in most developed nations already contains chlorine.

So while you may want to avoid chlorine in your hot tub (especially if it damages your hair and skin), you will not be able to avoid it altogether. It’s more about using the right amount of chemicals in the hot tub and not overdoing it. And before we get too far into other topics, we’ll go ahead and let you know that all you need is a simple chlorine test strip (on Amazon) to measure the chlorine in any hot tub, pool, or other body of water whenever you want.

Is There an Alternative to Chlorine in a Hot Tub? 

You don’t have to use chlorine in your hot tub. There are several alternatives, one of which is a slightly less abrasive chemical alternative called bromine from the same family as chlorine.


Bromine is more expensive than chlorine, and it doesn’t act as fast, either. This is good news for you, however, because this slower killing of germs makes it much easier on your skin and hair. 

It also has fewer fumes, making it a better choice for someone who has asthma. However, it still causes some slight damage.

Salt System

A salt system is an option if you want something almost entirely chemical-free. Salt systems come in many forms, from tablets to filtration systems, and they use more natural methods, like changing the makeup of the water, for sanitizing your hot tub. 

However, these salt systems tend to be expensive and need more work than just adding chlorine, which is why most hot tub owners stick to the chlorine in their hot tubs even though they know it isn’t great for their health. 

Oxygen Tablets and Activator Liquid

There is also a third option: the water is sanitized using a combination of oxygen tablets and an activator liquid. While they are much better for your skin, they do take quite a bit of time to activate, and your hot tub will need a full empty and sanitization before you switch to this method. 

Regardless, there are several less and non-chemical options available for your hot tub that can be worth looking into if you are nervous about the damage to your body caused by chlorine.

How Long After Putting Chemicals in a Hot Tub Can You Get In? 

Woman having a spa day moment in modern bathroom indoors

It can be hazardous to get in a hot tub too soon after adding chemicals like chlorine or bromine. To keep you and your family safe, you should wait 30 minutes after adding chemicals before getting in your hot tub. 

But this doesn’t mean you should jump in after 30 minutes. Instead, after the 30-minute timer goes off, you should test the water and ensure the PH balance is proper. If you use an alternative to chemicals, like salt tablets, you may need to wait even longer before you test. 

Check the box of any chemical or tablet you plan to use in your hot tub and ensure you wait the time they specify. Then, as a good practice, always check the water with a test strip before you get in. 

Can You Use a Hot Tub without Chemicals? 

Because hot tub chemicals are so damaging, many people wonder if they shouldn’t just skip them altogether. But, unfortunately, this is a terrible idea. 

High Water Temperature

Most hot tubs are between 25°C and 40°C, the exact range where bacteria likes to grow. So if you fill your hot tub and don’t add chemicals, the water will likely look cloudy after use. 

Then, within a day or two, bacteria will form, making the water murky to look similar to sludge. Anyone who uses the hot tub at this point will likely become ill. 

Human Bacteria Transfer

Not to mention that humans naturally carry bacteria on their skins, so every time you, or friends, use the hot tub, you introduce bacteria into your environment that could be deadly. So even though you may be scared of damaging your skin with chlorine, death from a bacterial disease from your hot tub is much worse. 

Bugs and Diseases

Standing fresh water also attracts all types of bugs, like mosquitos, which can carry diseases like Malaria, West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, and Zika. Many of these diseases can cause long-term complications worse than what can happen with exposure to chlorine. 

Therefore, you cannot use your hot tub without chemicals. This doesn’t mean you are restricted to using chlorine or bromine, though, because, as mentioned above, there are alternative filtration systems. 

You can look into one of these systems and find the most natural one that will also protect you and your family from bacteria and diseases. 

Final Thoughts on Hot Tub Chemicals Being Bad for You

Overall, chlorine and bromine hot tub chemicals are harmful to you, but so is running your hot tub without any chemicals. You are much better off choosing some sort of chemical than letting your hot tub become a breeding ground for germs. 

Take the time to find the chemical or salt system that works best for you, and ensure you give your system time to sanitize the water before you climb in. This will keep you and your family healthy while you use your hot tub. 

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