Hot Tub Smells Like Chlorine (Here’s How To Fix It)

By James Brockbank •  Updated: 06/18/21 •  12 min read

My hot tub smells like chlorine.

A hot tub that smells like chlorine is often the result of too many chloramines in the hot tub. To get rid of chloramines, add 30g (1 capful) of oxidizer to the spa. Another reason could be the pH is not balanced correctly. The pH should be between 7.4 and 7.6. Finally, if the spa water has not been drained for a long time, it could produce a foul chemical odor. Draining the hot tub is the best course of action if this is the case.

Stop wasting time and money with hot tub maintenance and confusing water chemistry! The Hot Tub Handbook and Video Course will help keep your hot tub balanced, sanitized, and crystal clear all the time.

Check out my list of high-quality hot tub products to help keep your hot tub clean and running great all year long!

One of the most frustrating things about using a hot is sometimes my hot tub smells like chlorine and not in a good way. It can be quite strong and difficult to use the spa.

My recommended product to help you test your spa water for accurate pH, alkalinity, bromine, and chlorine readings is the AquaCheck Trutest Digital Reader.

I did some research on chlorine and how it can sometimes affect the quality of the water of a hot tub. This is what I found.

It’s not just an annoyance. It can be hazardous to your health if you are using the hot tub for therapeutic purposes.

Another important way to keep your hot tub clean is having a proper hot tub cover, luckily I have some great tips for you on which covers might be best for your needs. Check out our full article on the subject for more information.

When a hot tub smells like chlorine, there is too much free available chlorine in the water, and this can cause skin irritation, eye damage, or even respiratory problems.

There are many reasons why a hot tub might smell like chlorine, but luckily I have some tips on fixing it!

Let’s get started!

What Causes a Hot Tub to Smell Like Chlorine?

There are many reasons why a hot tub might smell like chlorine. The first is that the water may not be balanced and has too much free available chlorine. To get rid of chloramines, add 30g (1 capful) of oxidizer to the spa. Another reason could be the pH is not balanced correctly. The pH should be between 7.4 and 7.6. 

This can happen if you have been adding too much shock to your hot tub or an accident during chemical additions (e.g., spilling some liquid). It can also happen when someone gets into the hot tub with lotion, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, perfume, and aftershave on their skin, in which case these chemicals will mix with the water and cause a sharp odor from all of this combined chemistry.

The hot tub liner can also cause a strong chlorine smell in a hot tub. Liners are made of PVC and can produce chlorine fumes, which accumulate in water with little circulation or filtration to get rid of it.

Lastly, a hot tub might smell like chlorine because there is too much chlorine product being used for sanitation purposes (e.g., sanitizer tablets) or due to an increase in bather load without adding additional chemicals as needed. In this case, your water chemistry becomes unbalanced.

I recommend SpaGuard Enhanced Shock for a chlorine oxidizer.

Should I Smell Chlorine In A Hot Tub?

A hot tub should not have a strong chlorine smell. It should smell clean and fresh. The chlorine will be present, but it shouldn’t overpower the senses or cause coughing or discomfort. If this is happening to you, then there might be a problem with your water chemistry.

Proper water chemistry will prevent a strong chlorine smell because chlorine will be present, but it should not be overpowering or cause coughing or discomfort.

Hot tubs might smell like chlorine because there is too much chlorine product being used for sanitation purposes (e.g., sanitizer tablets)or due to an increase in bather load without adding additional chemicals as needed. In this case, your water chemistry becomes unbalanced.

You could also address the biofilm problem by cleaning and sanitizing the pipes thoroughly. Proper cleaning of the pipes helps to eliminate biofilm build-up. Ensure that you are adding enough sanitizers alongside any pungent treatment to your hot tub.

When emptying the hot tub, add Oh Yuk Cleaner to clean out the hot tub pipes.

Is It Safe To Go In A Hot Tub With High Chlorine?

No, it is not safe to get in a hot tub where chlorine amounts are higher than three parts per million (3ppm). Levels above this level could lead to reddish, itchy eyes, irritated skin, and possible respiratory problems. Levels over five parts per million (5ppm) can lead to chlorine poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.

You only require a small amount of chlorine to sanitize your spa successfully, so it’s possible to overdo it if you’re not careful. On the other hand, an excessive amount of chlorine can damage your hot tub and irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs. Thankfully, reducing the chlorine levels on your hot tub is relatively easy to do.

But that’s only the start of proper water chemistry. Keeping it balanced and ensuring that the hot tub is safer to soak in is incredibly important.

When used correctly (and in the correct amount), sanitizers such as chlorine and bromine kill undesirable bacteria and other organic material from your hot tub.

However, if the degree of chlorine is overly high, it can cause undesirable problems both physically for people and also for your hot tub itself.

If you feel like your hot tub might have high chlorine levels, it’s essential to test the water and examine what is going on. Hot tubs with higher chlorine tend to smell strongly of chemicals, while low chlorine will produce a mild floral or “clean” scent.

If someone says that their hot tub smells too strongly of chlorine, they are smelling more than one thing – chemical cleaners or sanitizers can have a similar smell as chlorinated water in a pool or spa area.


How To Lower Chlorine in My Hot Tub?

To properly lower chlorine in a hot tub, you must first try and reduce it naturally. Adding freshwater or leaving the spa alone for a day or two will allow the chlorine levels to dissipate. However, if you need to use your spa right away, adding 1 ounce per 100 gallons of water of chlorine neutralizer will allow the chlorine to dissipate rapidly.

I recommend Thio-Time Chlorine and Bromine neutralizer to help balance your spa water.

Why Testing Chlorine is Important

Chlorine levels in your hot tub should always be at a healthy level. To make sure your water chemistry is correct, it is best practice to regularly test your pool or spa water. This will ensure the amount of sanitizer added will not make the water uncomfortable or potentially damage the hot tub.

A test system I highly recommend is the Exact Industrial Test System. This system is great for hot tubs and pools and gives your a highly accurate digital readout of your water chemistry compared to other methods.

If you’re looking for a simple testing kit I recommend these water test strips from JNW Direct Pool and Spa to test your chlorine. The total chlorine should be between 1 and 5 PPM (parts per million).

These test strips also test water hardness, bromine, alkalinity, cyanuric acid, and pH.

The chlorine tablets recommended above last up to one week. The recommended amount is seven tablets per 2,500 gallons of pool water.

If you plan on having a pool or hot tub party, ensure that your chlorine levels are where they need to be. If not, this would be the best time to add chlorine to your spa or pool.

Check out our article on how to fix hot tub foam for more information!

Consider Using a Water Care Monitor

Monitoring the health of your hot tub can often be challenging if you are not testing the water on a regular basis. This can also be a problem if you go on holiday or you are unable to take care of your hot tub due to mobility issues.

The pHin Smart Water Care Monitor for pools, hot tubs, and inflatable spas continuously tests the water and alerts you when to add chemicals with the integrated mobile app.

This water care monitor also takes constant readings of the temperature inside your hot tub. This will give you peace of mind while away from your spa.

The mobile app will inform you when to add chemicals such as chlorine, and how much chemical is recommended. This is done by entering your hot tub or pool’s unique dimensions.

Simply scan the bar code of any chemical brand and the pHin app will calculate how much chemical is to be added to the water. Most products and brands are recognized by the application.

The pHin device will sample water more than 1000 times per week to give you an accurate reading compared to using test strips.

The pHin device works with different water types including chlorine, bromine, and saltwater hot tubs, swim spas, inflatable hot tubs, and pools.

This unique device comes with a lifetime warranty to ensure your water remains clear and ready for you to use at all times.

How Soon Can I Use a Hot Tub After Adding Chemicals?

When adding chlorine, wait 30 minutes before testing the water again. For non-chlorine shock, wait 10 minutes. For chlorine shock, wait 20 minutes. Always test the levels before entering the hot tub. When you add chlorine or bromine to your hot tub water, wait a minimum of 12 hours before using it to allow the sanitizer to take proper effect.

Chemicals in your hot tub water can be a delicate balance. So it’s crucial to maintain the levels of pH, Alkalinity, and Chlorine or Bromine, also known as sanitizers.

You should wait 12 hours before entering the hot tub when you’ve added either chlorine or bromine to allow it to take effect properly. When you first fill up your hot tub with fresh water, make sure some shock treatment is available to help shock the spa water from the beginning.

After adding chemicals like pH up and down and alkalinity reducer, there is no waiting time before the hot tub can be used again. If these types of adjustments for PH levels or alkalinity levels are made, then follow instructions that come with those products about how long they need to sit in your water before use.

Check out our full article on using a hot tub after adding chemicals for more information.

spa tool kit

Chlorine Fumes From a Hot Tub

Chlorine can cause health problems when inhaled. Inhaling chlorinated water vapors exposes one Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) and Disinfection By-Products (DBPs). These chemicals could be hazardous to the delicate tissues in the lungs. In addition, the hot water and close quarters to the spa water vaporize chlorine, VOCs, also DBPs. This toxic vapor is then inhaled.

This chemical vapor is particularly difficult for asthmatics, but it can cause severe lung and sinus issues for those with healthy respiratory systems. This is why having proper chlorine levels inside your hot tub is incredibly important.

If you’re having problems with an overheating hot tub, it can also be quite frustrating. Check out our full article on the subject for more information.

Is it Bad to Use a Hot Tub Without Chemicals?

Yes, it is. Not only can the bacteria multiply quickly, but in time your shell will become discolored and slimy from corrosion of your equipment. In addition, simple steps like adding water treatments regularly at least once per month will significantly improve your hot tub water chemistry. Problems with spa water can be caused by dirty filters and chemicals that are not often replaced. Total sanitizer should be between 3 and 5 parts per million (PPM). Shocking the hot tub with a chlorine oxidizer will also help.

What Can I Use Instead Of Chlorine In A Hot Tub?

Bromine is an excellent alternative to chlorine because it is more effective, longer-lasting, and gentler on the skin. It also reduces the need for frequent checking of water quality since it dissolves slowly. However, this requires a costlier investment than chlorine which has less expensive upkeep costs in terms of frequency added.

When you use hot tub shock, the bromine is regenerated and reactivated. This means that it stays in your water longer to continue to work hard for you—it will need less frequent maintenance!

Bromine is a great way to keep your pool water clean for longer, and with its easier reactivation, you’ll be able to affordably maintain the level of sanitation that’s right for you.

Hot Tub Smells Like Chlorine: Conclusion

Hot Tub Smells Like Chlorine

A hot tub that smells like chemicals is often a result of poor chemical balance in the spa water. To resolve the problem, ensuring proper water maintenance remains a top priority.

I hope you found this article on Hot Tub Smelling Like Chlorine helpful.

Check out this great article from about ways to properly maintain your hot tub.

Have you ever tried using a hot tub that’s cold? It’s actually a great way to relax! Check out our full article on the subject for more information.

Thanks for visiting

James Brockbank

Keep Reading