What You Can Do to Stay Healthy in Hot Tubs

Key points

  • Many hot tubs are open year-round.
  • Hot tub operator staff and health departments alone cannot prevent all hot tub-related illnesses.
  • Hot tub users can take steps to protect themselves and their families from germs when using hot tubs.
man in hot tub

The risks

Germs can spread through hot tub water and cause respiratory, skin, or gastrointestinal illnesses. Hot tub users are at risk for these illnesses if they swallow, have contact with, or breathe in mists or aerosols from water contaminated with germs.

Steps to take

Keep the following steps in mind to help protect yourself and others from illness and injury when using a hot tub:

Follow rules for healthy and safe use

  • Don't swallow the water.
  • Stay out of the water if sick with diarrhea.
  • Don't let children less than 5 years old use hot tubs.
  • Don't drink alcohol before or during hot tub use.
  • Shower before you get in the water.
  • If you are pregnant, talk to a healthcare provider before using a hot tub.
  • Keep the number of people in a public hot tub (such as at a hotel or gym) below or at maximum capacity.

Observe the hot tub and its surroundings

  • Water temperature should not be higher than 104°F (40°C).
  • Check the water for proper disinfectant levels (chlorine or bromine) and pH, using test strips.
  • Tiles should not be sticky or slippery.
  • A properly chlorinated hot tub has little odor. A strong chemical smell indicates a problem.

Talk to hot tub operators and owners

Ask the following questions

  • Are chlorine or bromine levels and pH checked at least twice a day?
  • Are these levels and pH checked when the hot tub is most heavily used?
  • What are the latest inspection results for the hot tub?
  • Are staff who are trained in hot tub operation available during the weekends when the hot tub is most heavily used?

Share the above tips with operators and owners to help prevent illnesses.