Is it Bad to Use a Hot Tub Without Chemicals? (Yes, Here’s Why)

By James Brockbank •  Updated: 06/15/21 •  13 min read

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.

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!

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

I have sensitive skin, and if you’re like me, looking for an alternative to chlorine can be important to you, but consider some of the topics in this article first.

Check out our article on how soon you can use a hot tub after adding chemicals for more information on water care.

Some people prefer to use alternatives instead of chemicals when they clean their hot tub. Some don’t work as well, but others can help reduce the need for traditional chemical treatments by up to 50%.

We’ll find out more in this article.

Let’s get started!

How Do You Keep a Hot Tub Clean Without Chemicals?

Alternatives to chemicals are more effective than chemical treatments. UV systems, saltwater treatment, and ozonation can be used for sanitizing the water chemistry without using chlorine or other harmful substances. Of course, the filters need to be in top condition, with bathers showering before entering the tub if they have anybody odor on them!

Some Alternatives to Hot Tub Chemicals

Let’s face it. There is no way to avoid the use of chemicals in any sanitation system. Some alternatives still need a few traditional sanitizers and some water shocking.


Modern saltwater pools work by using a process known as “electrolysis,” which converts the sodium chloride in your spa into chlorine or bromine. However, this may not be a pure alternative because it still relies on traditional sanitizers to do its job well!


Ionizers are gentler and comfier, cheaper than traditional sanitizers. They’re also gentle on your hot tub equipment. The ionizer works through water purification using ultra-low voltage charge, which releases the copper and zinc ions into the water, killing off harmful microorganisms and mold.

Ionizers provide gentler yet affordable cleanliness for spas or pools that do not require chemicals to work their magic.


The ultraviolet system in your hot tub sanitizes the water as it passes through UV bulbs via a tube. The radiation process destroys 99.5% of bacteria that live and breed in this environment, making it safe for you to soak up all those healing benefits from your hot tub!


Ozonators are a great last resort against harmful microorganisms that typically only traditional sanitizers such as bromine or chlorine can kill. But, they aren’t something you buy and simply use by yourself. You’d need to contact an expert for the installation of this product.

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.

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.

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 looking to lower chlorine in your hot tub, check out our full article on the subject.

What Is The Best Hot Tub Sanitizer for Sensitive Skin?

Bromine tablets for hot tubs are used to sanitize spa water by producing bromamines. This compound disinfects water without producing an odor or irritating eyes or skin. You must keep the bromine levels between 3-5ppm (for 3ppm, add 12g to 1500 liters of water). Bromine is considered to be more stable and effective in hot tubs compared to chlorine.

Bromine is very effective at killing microbes and bacteria that would otherwise cause health problems. Every kind of solid contaminant on your skin gets dissolved in the tub water. Your hot tub filter won’t be able to catch these solids. But don’t worry, bromine is good at destroying them.

While chlorine is used commonly for sanitizing swimming pools and water disinfection, bromine is often used for hot tub sanitation. Although a bromine sanitizer is more expensive than a chlorine one, it does offer some more benefits.

Bromine tablets break the dissolved contaminants by ionizing them. This causes new waste products to form, which are called bromamines. As the amount of these waste products increase, the water becomes stinky. These waste products also reduce the sanitizer’s effectiveness, which needs to be regained by shocking.

Bromine works efficiently for much longer than chlorine, even with bromamines. But the temperature of the water must be high enough. Therefore, the effect of reduced effectiveness is much more significant when using a chlorine sanitizer.

Hot tub owners commonly prefer bromine tablets because they work better than chlorine over high temperatures. Bromine tablets are gentle on your skin, but it can be a challenging job removing them from your skin.

I recommend these Bromine Tablets from Spa Depot to add to your hot tub.

For the dispensing of tablets for both chlorine and bromine, I recommend this easy-to-use dispenser is the Chlorine and Bromine chemical dispenser by U.S. Pool Supply.

Are Saltwater Hot Tubs Good For Your Skin?

Yes, saltwater hot tubs are good for your skin. With the correct salt, water, and chlorine mixture in the spa, your skin will feel soft and not irritated. Also, saltwater is a more natural disinfectant than water loaded with chlorine.

Saltwater hot tubs have many benefits, including:

  1. No Bad Smells
  2. Fewer Hot Tub Chemicals
  3. Improved Wellness
  4. Fewer Drains
  5. Affordability
  6. Ease of Use
  7. User-Friendliness
  8. Water Conservation
  9. Simple Instructions to Understand

Traditional hot tub chlorination leads to chloramines entering the hot tub water, making the water irritating and unpleasant over time. In addition, chlorine is weakly acidic and can affect the skin and eyes. People have discovered this pitfall and are looking for healthier and more comfortable purification mechanisms such as saltwater systems or bromine.

The saltwater hot tub is the solution to your skin irritation problems. The system is designed to address the traditional systems gap that causes sensitivity to the eye and skin vulnerabilities. When you use a saltwater hot tub, you will be less likely to be affected by chloramines, given that the saltwater tubs generate chlorine naturally. As a result, your skin and eyes are usually free of irritation.

It would also be worth noting that saltwater hot tubs help safeguard the skin by acting like a gentle exfoliate. It helps remove the dead skin cells from the outer surface of your skin. This leaves your skin looking healthier and smoother. More so, the salts in the saltwater hot tub can improve the health of your skin by opening up the pores, decreasing the acne-causing bacteria, and balancing the oil production.

Similarly, you could minimize the traditional hot tubs’ chemical side effects when you use saltwater systems. When the chemicals and fillers for hot tub purification are minimized, the skin will be less dry. You will also be free of the lingering chemical smells when you soak in the saltwater hot tubs. By all means, therefore, a saltwater hot tub is suitable for you and your skin.

For more information on saltwater hot tubs and if they’re worth it, check out our full article on the subject for more information.

are saltwater hot tubs worth it

How Long Will a Hot Tub Last Without Chemicals?

A hot tub can last for a reasonably long time without chemicals. The water in the tub will gradually turn cloudy and start to have an odor, but this process may take a few weeks before it becomes noticeable. However, if the hot tub is being heavily used, it may only take a few days before the hot tub is unusable.

Leaving a hot tub without chemicals can be a problem because the water can turn unsafe to use. In addition, the lack of chemical treatment may result in bacteria or other contaminants forming, which could cause skin irritations and make you ill.

Eventually, you will need to drain and replace the water in your hot tub. With the presence of chemicals, this process should take less than a week to complete.

Check out our article on green hot tub water for more information.

green hot tub water

Do Natural Hot Tub Chemicals Work?

The answer is yes. But, the benefits of using them are limited and not nearly as drastic or long-lasting as those that come with traditional chemicals. Natural hot tub chemical solutions can be suitable for a short duration, but they’re never an appropriate solution for consistent use in your hot tub over time.

If you’re tired of traditional chemicals, there’s a more practical alternative that doesn’t require chlorine or bromine. One option is the Spa Marvel Trio on Amazon – it includes a cleanser, water treatment, and conditioner as well as filter cleaner to keep your spa running smoothly. In addition, spa Marvel chemistry is enzyme-based, meaning they are made up of natural compounds; these emollients moisturize skin naturally!

Spa Marvel is gentler on your skin and hot tub, so it’s fantastic for sensitive skin. It removes the contaminants that make your hot tub an unpleasant place, including odor-causing microorganisms and substances trapped in filters like chlorine or bromine residues. Plus, Spa Marvel lasts up to three months per bottle without requiring you to change water frequently!

Spa Marvel offers conditioner, cleanser, and filter cleaner.

Spa Platinum Prop Natural Hot Tub Treatment is Also Good.

Are Hot Tub Chemicals Bad For You?

No, as long as they’re used in the appropriate amounts and with care, hot tub chemicals are a safe way to keep your water clean. Many hot tubs are filled with chlorine or bromine, which can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems when misused.

These chemical levels need to be monitored for safety, so your body doesn’t get too much exposure. Another important thing is knowing what type of filter system you have in your hot tub, so you know how often it requires maintenance and cleaning. This will help keep your water clean and prevent any bacteria from forming.

The most important thing to remember about using any chemical in your hot tub is to keep it properly maintained. By keeping up and adding new chemicals on time, frequently testing the water’s pH levels, and maintaining the cleanliness of your spa. This will help minimize the health risks associated with a dirty hot tub.

If your hot tub smells like chemicals, check out our full article on the subject of how to fix it.

Using a Hot Tub Without Chemicals: Conclusion

hot tub without chemicals

In conclusion, not using chemicals in your hot tub can leave you open to many health risks.

If you’re looking for a way to keep your hot tub clean without using any chemicals, the best thing is to use an ozone machine- it will kill bacteria and eliminate odor while still keeping water sanitized on its own!
Saltwater hot tubs are also a great option, as they will not cause as much skin irritation as chlorine can.

The reality is that the hot tub without chemicals isn’t a good idea. You’re exposing yourself to extra bacteria.

There are few alternatives that don’t require the use of traditional hot tub chemicals.

I investigated a non-chlorine solution for cleaning your hot tub and the riskiest outcomes when chemical use is not maintained.

Next, I looked at an enzyme-based alternative to traditional hot tub chemicals.

If you’re interested in cold water therapy and are wondering if hot tubs can be cold, check out our full article on the subject for more information.

I hope you found this article on using a hot tub without chemicals helpful.

Thanks for visiting

James Brockbank

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