How Soon After Adding Chlorine or Bromine Can I Use a Hot Tub?

Hot tub sanitizers like chlorine or bromine are necessary to make sure your water is free of bacteria and other contaminants. But many hot tub owners wonder how soon after adding chlorine or bromine can I use a hot tub?

Having owned 4 of them over 15 years, this is what I’ve learned:

After adding chlorine or bromine, wait 30 minutes & test the water again. Because it doesn’t kill bacteria as well as bromine, chlorine levels above the safe zone & allow the levels to drop naturally, which can take even longer. But how long always depends on what the levels read on a test strip.

But that’s just the beginning of proper water balancing.

In this article, we’re taking a deep dive into sanitizers like bromine or chlorine. We’ll explore if one is better than the other. But we’ll also how safe it is to get in after adding and how long it takes after adding it to balance the water.

Ultimately, we’re answering the question of how long you have to wait to get in after you add chlorine or bromine.

Hot tub sanitizers such as chlorine or bromine are absolutely required to keep your hot tub water fresh and clean. But these chemicals are also incredibly strong, and if used incorrectly can cause easily avoided issues. You’ll want to make sure you don’t enter your hot tub too early.

Chlorine or bromine can disperse anywhere from a handful of hours to a full twenty four hour day. This is dependent upon how much chlorine or bromine is placed in the water.

Read on to find out all things chlorine and bromine in regards to your hot tub.

How long do you have to wait to get in a hot tub after adding chlorine?

First, let’s understand what these chemicals are, and a few of the differences between chlorine and bromine.

Both chlorine and bromine are sanitizers that are used to cleanse your hot tub of unwelcome bacteria. It should be noted that chlorine is less stable in warmer temperatures.

For that reason, while you can use either one in a pool or swimming pool, chlorine is more common in pools and bromine more common in hot tubs.

Bromine lasts longer than chlorine in warmer water and does not have to be applied as frequently. Bromine dissolves slower in water, which is why it does not have to be applied as frequently as chlorine.

On the other hand, bromine is more expensive than chlorine.

Bromine is also better for sensitive skin. To learn the differences between bromine and chlorine, look at this recent article. I even cover which one is better at killing bacteria, as one is clearly better than the other for that.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

You can’t get into any hot tub or pool immediately after chlorine or any other chemical has been dumped into it. You need time to allow the chemical, in this case, chlorine, to dissipate into the water.

So how long do you have to wait after adding it?

You should wait at least thirty minutes or so.

It’s also a great idea to put the jets on, this way the water circulates and the water absorbs the chemical better. Additionally, make sure the hot tub cover is off while this happens. This allows any chemical vapors to escape quickly.

If you use a chlorine sanitizer, then add enough of the chemical until it is between five and eight parts per million. This amount of chlorine ensures the water is cleaned of any bacteria.

Chlorine is not as effective as bromine at killing bacteria. So it helps to start off high and allow it to work. Then, after a little time, the levels will go down. So don’t get in immediately.

That’s because this amount of chlorine is not safe to bathe in.

At this level, the chlorine can cause skin irritation.

Regularly check the chlorine levels until it is between 3 and 5 parts per million. At this point, it is safe to bathe in the water.

To test the chlorine level, simply place a test strip in the hot tub’s water.

Next, compare the color that appears on the test strip with the color key that came with the test strip package. Ensure you do not get dirt or water on test strips that will be used in the future, as this can impact the testing.

Can I get in a hot tub faster if I use bromine instead of chlorine?

Typically yes, assuming your added more chlorine as I recommended above to kill off bacteria.

The safety level of bromine is between 1 and 3 parts per million. By comparison, chlorine needs 3-5 PPM. Just like chlorine, you should turn on your jets and take off the cover of your hot tub.

You still want to wait 30 minutes and test the water again before getting in.

But I’ve still gotten in my hot tub faster than that using bromine since it’s far less irritating to skin and eyes than chlorine. That’s especially true if the levels are on the lower end of that 1-3 PPM.

What happens if you test the water and the level of bromine is WAY too high? Unfortunately, and I’ve done this too by being too heavy-handed with the bromine powder, you have to wait.

It can take anywhere from two hours to twenty-four hours to dissipate. Of course, that range depends on how high the levels are.

Just keep testing the water to ensure the level reaches the safety levels. Bromine and chlorine are very similar in their uses, but bromine does dissolve slower than chlorine.

Be aware that compared to chlorine, if you use bromine, your water may be cloudy afterward.

This is because unlike chlorine, bromine does not oxidize the same way chlorine does. I typically shock my hot tub about once a week. Since hot tub shock IS an oxidizer, my water is almost always crystal clear.

My favorite non-chlorine shock is by Leisure Time (click to see the current price on Amazon).

It’s almost all 5-star reviews on Amazon with over 800 of them. It’s also an Amazon’s Choice product too.

What is a safe level for chlorine or bromine in a hot tub?

As I mentioned above the safe levels for chlorine and bromine are different from one another. You can typically get away with a lower PPM using bromine. That’s because it’s more stable in hot water than chlorine and more effective at killing bacteria.

But here’s a quick glance:

  • Chlorine range for pools = 1-3 ppm
  • Chlorine range for hot tubs = 3-5 ppm
  • Bromine range for pools and hot tubs = 2-6 ppm

If you bathe in a high level of chlorine or bromine, there can be unpleasant issues.

First, even with bromine if it’s too high, you’ll get that chlorine smell like when you swim at a public pool.

High levels of chlorine can cause problems with hair, skin irritation such as rashes or itchiness, itchy eyes, and possible respiratory issues.

Additionally, high levels of either chemical can cause corroding in the hot tub’s pipes and equipment.

Is it safe to go in a hot tub with high chlorine?

Simply put, no, it is not.

High levels of chlorine will cause itching and rashes. To get the chemicals that will be the gentlest on your skin and help you avoid hot tub rash, you should read this recent article I wrote.

It talks about the best hot tub chemicals for sensitive skin. But I even get into the once instance where your test strips may show normal levels of chlorine or bromine when the levels are really much lower.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Remember, when sitting in a hot tub you are bathing in a soup of chemicals. You certainly don’t want to be in one that has too high a level. Nobody wants negatively affected health, we just want to relax!

Keep testing your hot tub until the chemical level is between 3 and 5 parts per million.

Anything higher than that is not safe! Chlorine decreases as time goes on, so you’ll just have to wait until the levels are safe to soak.

What happens if the chlorine level is too high in a hot tub?

Chlorine or bromine levels are important and should be watched closely.

When chlorine levels are in the recommended range, 3 to 5 parts per million, they effectively kill bacteria. When the levels are higher than this, they can cause all types of issues.

High chlorine levels can degrade the surfaces of your hot tub and equipment faster.

Water pillows, filters, and other surfaces can be negatively affected by high levels of chlorine in the water. Bromine and chlorine are strong chemical compounds.

Hot tub equipment can be negatively impacted by prolonged high chlorine or bromine levels. Pipes, the lining, and other equipment can degrade.

But, it can cause health issues such as red and itchy skin, in addition to itchy eyes.

High levels of chlorine and bromine are just as bad as an out of balance pH level. In a recent article, I get into exactly what the downsides are of your pH being too high.

Surprisingly, a hot tub with super high pH can be just as bad to soak in as one with chlorine levels too high. Luckily, it’s not too hard to fix though.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How long does it take for chlorine levels to drop?

The length of time it takes for chlorine levels to drop is entirely dependent on the amount of chlorine that was added to your hot tub or spa.

You only need a small amount of chlorine to sanitize your hot tub or spa.

This means that it’s really easy to put in more chlorine than is necessary. Many people think that their chlorine levels are too high without actually checking it.

People assume that the overwhelming smell of chlorine will tell them they have overdone it, and have too much in their hot tub.

The only way to truly know if you have too much chlorine in your hot tub or spa is to use a test strip on the water. Depending on the readout of your test strip, you will want to add or reduce the amount of chlorine.

As previously stated, the time it takes for chlorine levels to drop in your hot tub is dependent upon the amount you’ve put in the hot tub.

It can take anywhere from two to twenty-four hours. If the levels are astronomically high (hopefully not!) then it could be anywhere from twenty-four to forty-eight hours.

But there are some things you can do to speed that up which we’ll get into below.

How can I reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine in the water quickly?

There are a few ways you can quickly reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine in your hot tub water.

If you have a saltwater chlorine generator, turn it off. This is a very effective way to decrease chlorine levels if the levels are only slightly above normal.

Another way to reduce chlorine and bromine levels is to take off your hot tub cover.

Direct sunlight helps deplete chlorine and bromine quicker. You should also run your jets while doing this.

Then, just wait and test the chlorine or bromine levels after a few hours. If the level is still high, keep waiting and testing the water.

Another way to reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine in your hot tub is to partially drain your hot tub and top it off with fresh water.

Be aware, the chemicals in your water can harm grass and dirt, it is not recommended to dump it on the ground. Luckily, I get into the best way to drain a hot tub in a recent article. Not only do I cover where to drain it, but I even share how I drain mine completely in under 15 minutes.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Make sure your jets are on and circulating the water as you top it off. That will ensure the high levels of bromine or chlorine you had are getting well-mixed with the new water.

When the hot tub is full, just check the levels with a test strip before adding anything.

Chances are, if your previous levels of chlorine or bromine were super high, you may not need to add any of that. But you may well need to adjust pH and alkalinity.

BUT THE FASTEST WAY is to use a neutralizer to bring down the chemical levels in your hot tub.

Sodium thiosulfate will break down both chlorine and bromine in your hot tub water. This ensures you can soak faster.

My favorite brand of this is In the Swim (click to see it on Amazon).

It works on bromine or chlorine and only takes about 1/3 of an oz for most sizes of hot tubs to lower your levels. Just add it to the water, turn the jets on and wait 30 minutes. Test and adjust as needed.

No matter what you intend to do, make sure you check your chemical levels!

You may inadvertently change the other levels of chemicals in your water. Be sure to check your pH and alkalinity levels.

How long do you have to wait to get in a hot tub after you shock it?

Hot tub shock is an oxidizer. I shock mine about once a week.

If you are using a chlorine or other chemical shock, then you must check the levels of the chemical before entering the hot tub. Remember, the chlorine levels must be between 3 and 5 parts per million.

And a chlorine shock will affect chlorine levels just like a chlorine sanitizer does.

You should wait at least thirty minutes, and then check the level of chlorine. If the level is acceptable, then you’re all set to go in.

If you are using a natural or non-chlorine shock then you should still wait thirty minutes before entering the water.

But I love using a non-chlorine/non-bromine shock. That way I can get the benefits without accidentally sending the chlorine or bromine levels through the roof.

My favorite non-chlorine shock is by Leisure Time (click to see the current price on Amazon). It’s almost all 5-star reviews on Amazon with over 800 of them. It’s also an Amazon’s Choice product too.

If you want to negate the wait time of the chlorine mixing into the water, then here is a simple trick.

Instead of shocking or adding chlorine before you enter the hot tub, do it after you get out!

This will ensure that you can enter the hot tub because it’ll be shocked after you get out, meaning next time you want to soak you can hop in.

Remember, you should always test the chemical levels before entering the water!

Did I cover all you wanted to know about how soon you can soak in a hot tub after adding chlorine or bromine?

Chlorine and bromine are powerful chemicals that can keep your hot tub water clean and fresh.

But it’s easy to accidentally add too much. Remember, the safety level of bromine is between 2 and 6 parts per million. With chlorine, it’s 3 to 5 PPM.

Anything higher is unsafe and should not be soaked in.

To test the chemical levels of your hot tub’s water, use a test strip. High levels of chlorine can cause damage to your hot tub’s equipment, in addition to causing red and itchy skin, itchy eyes, and possible respiratory issues.

There are a few ways to reduce the levels of bromine and chlorine in your hot tub.

You can dump all or part of the water out and replace it with fresh water. You can also use a sanitizer remover, or remove the cover and let the sunlight break down the chlorine or bromine while running your spa’s jets.

It can take anywhere from thirty minutes to twenty-four hours for the chlorine or bromine to reach safe levels. It just depends on how high they were. Always test your hot tub water before entering, better to be safe than sorry!

Speaking of being safe in hot tubs, check out this recent article I wrote about how long it’s safe to stay in a hot tub.

After all, a lot of us just get in to relax and lose track of time. But depending on how high you set your temperature, it can actually be deadly to stay in longer than 15 minutes. But just lowering it a few degrees can double that.

Just click that link to read it on my site.


Photos which require attribution:

Testing new PowerShot D10 by Patrick is licensed under CC2.0

017 Chlorine – Periodic Table of Elements by Science Activism is licensed under CC2.0

035 Bromine – Periodic Table of Elements by Science Activism is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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