Is it Safe to Go in a Hot Tub with High Chlorine?

When the weather is nice, we’re all eager to jump in our hot tubs. But sometimes we can accidentally add too much sanitizer. If that happens, is it safe to go in a hot tub with high chlorine?

Here’s what I’ve learned from owning 4 hot tubs:

No. It’s not safe to get in a hot tub where chlorine levels are above 3 parts per million on your test strip. Levels above that can lead to red, itchy skin & eyes, & respiratory issues. Levels over 5ppm can lead to chlorine poisoning which adds the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. 

But that’s just the beginning of proper water chemistry, keeping it balanced, and ensuring your hot tub is safe to soak in. So let’s keep going!

The best way to keep your hot tub clean and safe is by using sanitizers such as chlorine or bromine.

When used correctly (and in the correct amount) they kill unwanted bacteria and disease in your hot tub water.

However, if the levels of bromine or chlorine are too high, they can cause unwanted issues both physically for bathers and for the hot tub itself. Keep on reading to find out all about high chlorine levels and hot tubs.

Can I get in a hot tub with high chlorine?

You should absolutely not go in a hot tub with a high level of chlorine or bromine. To check your hot tub’s chlorine levels, you should use a test strip.

Using test strips is a really easy and effective way of figuring out your hot tubs chemical balance.

To use a test strip, ideally, take a water sample from your hot tub and put it in a plastic container or clean glass. The water sample should come from the center of the hot tub and should be from about elbow deep in the water.

You should then place the test strip in the water sample and wait fifteen seconds.

But if you’re anything like me, most of the time, I just dip the strip in the hot tub itself. That’s OK and it will still give you a good idea.

The test strip’s categories will each turn a different color, and you should compare the color that appeared with the color guide that came with the test strip.

Some test strips check for just basic things like chlorine/bromine, pH, and alkalinity. Whereas other brands may also test for water hardness, calcium, and other things.

Going into a hot tub with high levels of chlorine can cause you harm. This will be further explored below.

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!

Your hot tub chlorine level should be between 1 and 3 parts per million. Bromine levels need to be a little higher; between 2-6ppm.

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

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

When they are in the recommended range, one to three 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 your hot tub surfaces quicker.

Water pillows, filters, and other surfaces can be negatively affected by high levels of chlorine in the water. Remember, bromine and chlorine are strong chemical compounds. Chlorine, however, is a little worse than bromine.

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

We’ll get more into the specific side effects of soaking in too much chlorine below.

Not sure if you should be using chlorine or bromine to sanitize your hot tub?

It’s a question that confuses a lot of people! Luckily, I break it all down for you in this recent article. After all, one is much better in hot water than cold water. But the other one is cheaper.

Just click that link to read it on my site and get some clarity.

How do I lower the chlorine level in my hot tub?

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.

You should wait at least thirty minutes or so before getting in the hot tub.

If you have put too much chlorine in your hot tub, there isn’t much you can do to lower the level. You can 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. But sunlight also naturally destroys chlorine.

The fastest way to reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine in your hot tub is to empty out all of the water in your hot tub. You must then replace it 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. After you have the fresh water in your hot tub, be careful to add the correct amount of bromine or chlorine.

Additionally, another thing you can do is dilute your water if it has too much chlorine or bromine.

Get a bucket and remove some of the water in your hot tub. Start with only one or two buckets. Once you have removed the water, fill up the same amount of buckets with fresh water, and pour it in.

Those options might help lower the chlorine levels faster.

But besides totally dumping out your water and refilling your hot tub, the only thing you can really do is wait and keep testing the chlorine level every few hours. Remember, don’t get in a hot tub with a high chlorine level.

Can high chlorine levels hurt you?

Yes, high levels of chlorine in your hot tub water can hurt you.

High levels of chlorine can cause health issues such as:

  • Red and itchy skin
  • Respiratory issues
  • Itchy eyes

High levels of chlorine may also damage your hot tub. Filters, water pillows, and internal parts may degrade due to high levels of chlorine.

Besides that, you may also feel a sudden onset of nausea and vomiting, a burning sensation in your throat, and a dull pain in your chest.

Even with the correct amount of sanitizer and/or shock, you still need to wait a little bit before getting in. 

But how long to wait depends on whether or not you’re using chlorine or bromine. Luckily I break it all down for you in this recent article. I get into exact wait times for each type of sanitizer and oxidizer.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What are the side effects of too much chlorine?

As stated above, there are numerous side effects of too much chlorine. Skin can become itchy, red, and irritated. You can have respiratory issues.  Your eyes may also become itchy.

You should never get in a hot tub with chlorine levels above 5ppm.

If, however, you accidentally soaked in a hot tub where the levels were way over that, you could actually come down with something called “chlorine poisoning”. (source)

Symptoms of chlorine poisoning include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Burning in the eyes, throat, or skin

In mild or even moderate cases of chlorine poisoning, symptoms typically go away after a day. But don’t be afraid to seek medical attention. Better to be safe than sorry.

Confused about the difference between oxidizer and sanitizer?

You’re not alone. But oxidizer, also known as shock, also impacts the chlorine levels on your test strip. So it’s important to know how the 2 interact with each other to avoid high chlorine levels.

If you want to learn more, read this recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about whether it’s safe to go in a hot tub with high chlorine levels?

To keep your hot tub safe, you must use chemicals such as chlorine or bromine to sanitize it and kill unwanted bacteria and germs.

However, if the levels of bromine or chlorine are too high, they can cause unwanted issues such as red and itchy eyes and skin, pain in the chest and throat, and more.

Your hot tub can also internally be damaged by the high levels of chlorine.

If you have put too much chlorine in your hot tub, there isn’t much you can do to lower the level quickly. You can 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 and allows the sun to destroy the sanitizer.

Overall, unless you want to completely take out all of the water in your hot tub and replace it, you have to wait a day or 2 until it is at a safe level, which is between 1 and 3 parts per million for chlorine, or 2-6ppm for bromine.

Sometimes though, we have the opposite problem; the chlorine from your hot tub keeps disappearing.

When you keep adding sanitizer and the levels never stay where they should, you might have a biofilm build up in your plumbing preventing the sanitizer and shock from doing their jobs.

Luckily, I break down how to get rid of that in this recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

 

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.

Recent Content