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24 Jun 2022

11 things you shouldn't do in a hot tub

From wearing oily lotions to pouring in bubble bath, learn the things that could be putting you and your family in danger and ruining your hot tub  
Family taking a picture in a hot tub

Hot tubs are the epitome of relaxation and indulgence, a place where you can truly kick back and let the stresses of life melt away.  

They're more accessible than ever too, with high-street shops and supermarkets selling inflatable hot tubs for as a little as £200. 

But even though a dip in the tub should be all about unwinding, there are some important rules you should follow to ensure everyone enjoys their time safely and your tub remains in good condition.  

Keep reading to find out what not to do, or alternatively head over to our hot tub buying guide for everything you need to know about buying, installing and using your tub

1. Don't get in before testing the water

Hot tub chemical testing kit

All hard-shell and inflatable hot tubs need to use chemicals to make sure the water stays clean and your tub isn't damaged. But not getting the balance right can lead to itchy skin, scale build up and cloudy water.

Test the water after every one to three uses and make sure it's within the following levels:

  • A chlorine or bromine level of three to five parts per million (ppm) must be maintained
  • The total alkalinity should be 80-120ppm, with a pH between 7.2 and 7.8
  • The calcium level should be around 100-250ppm.

If it's not, our guide on using a hot tub will explain how to balance the chemicals.

2. Don't get in without having drinking water to hand

The high heat of a hot tub can make you sweat. Pair that with a sunny day and alcohol, and it's very easy to become dehydrated. 

Signs to look out for include a dry mouth, excessive thirst, dizziness or a headache.

To avoid dehydration and its potential side effects, make sure you're hydrated before getting in, avoid alcohol while bathing and keep a bottle of water to hand so you can top up if needed.

Unsure of which water bottle to buy? Here's our round-up of the best reusable bottles

3. Don't allow germs to spread

Child splashing in a hot tub

Keeping your hot tub clean is really important. Leaving dirt and grime to build up will cause germs to quickly spread. 

Hot tub rash, also known as Pseudomonas folliculitis, can appear a few days after soaking in a badly maintained hot tub. Hot tub rash is caused by the germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa and results in an itchy, red, bumpy rash. 

Fortunately the rash usually clears on its own without you needing to visit your GP but it's best to avoid it in the first place. 

What rash is this? If you're unsure about a rash or skin condition that's appeared on your child, take a look at the photos in our guide to find out what it may be. 

4. Don't leave children unsupervised

Family in hot tub

Any body of water can pose a danger to a child who is left unsupervised by an adult. 

Hot tubs can be deceptively deep and represent a real risk of drowning. 

You must ensure no child is left on their own in a hot tub and avoid being distracted if you're entertaining guests. 

If you're worried about a child venturing out to the hot tub on their own, make sure you keep a cover on the tub when it's not in use and the back door locked. 

For younger children, stair gates are also a great way of adding extra security by blocking off dangerous areas. See our round-up of the best stair gates

5. Don't get in before talking to a GP if you have a medical condition

Woman talking to GP over video call

The British Heart Foundation states: 'If you have a heart condition or have high blood pressure, it's generally advisable not to use spa facilities - including baths, saunas and Jacuzzis or steam rooms. Sudden changes in temperature can put extra strain on your heart and circulation. Before doing these activities, have a chat with your GP.'

The same advice should be followed if you have any other medical conditions that could be made worse by an increase in temperature.

From blood-pressure monitors and fitness trackers to electric toothbrushes and hearing aids, we review and recommend the best health and grooming gadgets.

6. Don't get in if you're pregnant

Pregnant woman looking out the window

When you're pregnant there's a higher chance of overheating, therefore excessive heat should be avoided so as not to risk any harm to the baby.

The NHS advises pregnant women to avoid hot tubs completely, saying: 'If you're using a hydrotherapy pool, the temperature should not be above 35u00baC. Some hot tubs can be as hot as 40u00baC, so it's best to avoid them.'

Are you or a loved one expecting a baby? Here's all our independent baby product reviews and expert parenting advice.

7. Don't get in with your baby

Woman holding up a baby

You should never take your infant or toddler into the hot tub with you. They can't sweat as well as adults, which makes them more susceptible to overheating. 

Older children can go in, but they should limit their use to between five to 15 minutes depending on the water temperature.

 Keep your little ones safe and healthy with our expert help on baby and child-proofing your home.

8. Don't wear oily lotions

Woman showering outside in a swimsuit

Wearing skincare products while in a hot tub will mean your filter needs to work much harder to keep the hot tub clean. It can also affect the pH levels. 

Showering before getting in will get rid of oily products, sweat and skin cells and help to avoid any problems. 

You should also shower after your soak to wash any chemicals off your skin and prevent any irritation. Here's all our electric shower reviews.

Here's all our electric shower reviews.

9. Don't stay in for longer than 30 minutes

Woman and boy in a hot tub surrounded by trees

General guidance from manufacturers says that healthy adults who are not pregnant can stay in a hot tub heated to 37.8u00baC for around 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Any longer and you risk overheating, and experiencing symptoms such as light-headedness, dizziness or nausea.

You should also be more mindful of the weather. When it's a hot day, you might need to cut your soaks a little shorter or turn down the temperature. And if it's a cold day, make sure you take care when you get out as the sudden drop in temperature can cause dizziness.

Make sure you protect your skin in the sun, too. Here are our sun cream reviews.

10. Don't use bubble bath

Boy in foamy hot tub

It might feel like a big bath, but don't use it like one. Bubble bath will cause excessive foam and serious damage to the tub's structure. If you want to add a little more luxury, then you can buy hot tub-specific spa bombs and crystals. 

We list some of the best hot tub accessories.

11. Don't submerge open cuts and wounds 

Putting a plaster on a knee

As long as you regularly maintain your hot tub and make sure the chemicals are topped up, the water will be clean enough for general use. However, not all bacteria can be eliminated completely so you're risking infection if you submerge open wounds or cuts.

If you get a wound wet by accident, make sure you disinfect it swiftly.

Head to our guides for more advice on buying the best hot tub.