9 Things to Consider Before Using a Hot Tub

Outdoor hot tub with water churning inside

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

If you own a hot tub or spa, then you probably know all the things you should and should not do in and around the feature—think issues of safety, care, and maintenance.

Or do you? For instance, what is the highest temperature for setting the water safely? Is it ok for pets or kids to enjoy a dip? And what about some of the things you can do to keep your hot tub clean and hygienic?

If you are not in the know regarding any of the above, have no fear. These tips will get you up to speed STAT.

Pets and Hot Tubs are Not a Good Mix

You love your dog, so of course, you want to bring the pup everywhere when possible. Unfortunately, a hot tub can be too hot for pets to handle, and the risk for injury is not worth the dip. Apart from that, the excess hair from a pet can cause clogs in the hot tub. Even though clogs are a regular occurrence, purposely bathing with pets can make the problem worse and may require professional to fix. Finally, let's talk about your pet's claws. Their nails can scratch the surface of a vinyl, plastic, or acrylic hot tub, causing the protective coating to peel off. The damaged surface can cost hundreds of dollars to fix. 

Avoiding Getting an Infection from a Hot Tub

There are lots of germs in hot tubs — think about it — whenever someone soaks in the tub, their body fluids and grime are instantly added to the water. It can be especially problematic in shared spas in gyms and hotels where many people take a dip in between hot tub cleanings. It is the primary reason people with open sores or skin infections should not use a hot tub. The hot water is the perfect environment for spreading viruses, primarily if sanitizer levels in the water are not maintained. The same goes for rashes and other injuries. Consult a doctor to get the green light before stepping back into a hot tub.

What is the Right Temperature for Hot Tubs?

Newer hot tubs have factory-set temperature maximums of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Most bathers find that 100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit is a comfortable and therapeutic level. Keep in mind; Higher temperatures can place undue strain on the cardiovascular system. To avoid any potential projects, be sure to monitor the temperature accurately. If you or your guests feel a little off, lightheaded, or overly hot, it is best to get out of the tub. Check the temperature before returning and make sure you cool off and drink plenty of water.

Hot Tub Safety for Parents and Children

If you are a parent, you already know that leaving kids alone near anything they can wade or swim in like a lake, pool, or even hot tub is not the best idea. Consider this a gentle reminder. Very young children can quickly become overheated and drown in hot tubs and spas. In fact, children can drown in just a few inches of water, and every year several do. Probably the greatest drowning danger arises when a child climbs unnoticed into an unsecured or unattended area with a pool or tub. If you own a hot tub, it is best to keep it covered when not in use. It is also a good idea to learn CPR and to invest in floatation equipment. Then you can teach your children to always wear their life jackets before going near the pool or hot tub.

Avoid Horseplay in Hot Tubs

Everyone becomes a kid again in the water, and casual horseplay can quickly get out of hand, with someone getting hurt. Space is super limited in the hot tub, and there is not enough room to do things typically done in a swimming pool like diving, cannonballs, or floating around in inflatables. So for safety's sake, do not jump, dive, or bring your unicorn floating device into the hot tub. 

Invest in a Hot Tub Cover

We mentioned earlier that you should invest in a hot tub cover (if you do not have one already). In most parts of the United States, it is required by law to be equipped with ​an anti-entrapment drain cover. Here is a round-up of our favorites to buy.

cover on outdoor hot tub

Do Not Use a Hot Tub During Extreme Weather

Storm clouds mean it is time to get out of the water. Never use your spa during extreme weather conditions, for example, electrical storms — not to mention hurricanes or tornados.

Do Not Soak in Hot Tubs Alone

While those rules posted near public spas don't seem precisely scientific, some just make good sense — like not using the hot tub alone. If you have been indulging, taking prescription medication, or have low blood pressure, or any other medical condition, it would be wise to wait for a companion to join you for a soak. A good rule of thumb, consult with your doctor before using a hot tub regularly.

What to Do Before Entering a Hot Tub

What are the two top things you should do before enjoying a soak in a hot tub? You can work up a sweat in a hot tub, so the first is to drink a couple of glass of water to make sure you are adequately hydrated. Second, take a shower. Rinsing off body oils and personal care products like deodorant will help keep the water in your hot tub clean and balanced.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Are Hot Tubs Safe If You Have Heart Disease? Cleveland Clinic.

  2. Press E. The Health Hazards of Saunas and Spas and How to Minimize Them. American Journal of Public Health, 81,8,1034-7, 1991, doi:10.2105/ajph.81.8.1034