How Do I Choose the Best Hot Tub Sanitizer?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Outdoor hot tubs may require stronger sanitizers than indoor ones to combat debris.
Outdoor hot tubs may require stronger sanitizers than indoor ones to combat debris.

While using a hot tub is a great way to relax and enjoy soothing warmth, it can also be harmful to your health if the water is not properly maintained. Hot tub sanitizer should be used frequently to ensure the water is free from bacteria that can cause illness or discomfort. The two most common hot tub sanitizers are chlorine and bromine, though other sanitizing methods do exist. When choosing a sanitizer, you will need to take several factors into consideration, including the smell of the chemical, its effects on skin, its effects on the hot tub components, the cost, and the method by which the sanitizer is administered.

Chlorine has long been the hot tub sanitizer of choice for most consumers because it is very effective and fairly easy to use. Chlorine does, however, have a distinct smell that can be unpleasant for bathers, and this chemical has a tendency to dry out the skin, leading to itching and even rashes. Chlorine also has to be added to hot tub water fairly frequently, depending on how often the tub is used. This hot tub sanitizer generally needs to be added to the water about twice a week in a tub that is used frequently.

Bromine has become a more popular hot tub sanitizer because its smell is not as overwhelming as chlorine and it tends to be much less caustic on the skin. It is also easy to administer, since bromine usually comes in a small block that is placed in the hot tub's filter. Chlorine usually comes in granular form, and it must be added directly to the hot tub water. The granules must be dissolved before bathers can use the hot tub. Unlike chlorine, bromine usually only needs to be added to the tub about once every two weeks.

It is also possible to choose more natural sanitizers. Mineral sanitizers can be used in conjunction with chlorine or bromine, but usually not independently of these chemicals. Using a natural mineral sanitizer will drastically reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine necessary, which means the hot tub water will be clean without the overwhelming scent of the caustic chemicals; the water will also be less skin irritant. Colloidal silver is also sometimes used to help kill bacteria in a hot tub, though this should be used carefully. Regardless of the type of hot tub sanitizer used, it will be necessary to monitor the pH level of the water during use to ensure hot tub equipment will not be damaged as a result of the presence of sanitizer.

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Discussion Comments


@Grivusangel -- Thanks for the tip. I've been using bromine, and while it doesn't bother my skin or anything, I have been looking for a chemical free solution, if one existed. Nice to know one does.

I wonder if anyone ever converts their hot tub to a saltwater tub, like some people have done to their pools? Can you even do that? How much would it cost if you can? I know people with saltwater pools don't have to use many chemicals and their pool water is much more pleasant and softer without all the chlorine.


When I drain our hot tub to clean it, I swab the jets with household vinegar. That does two things: cleans out any lime deposits since we have hard water, and also sanitizes the jets. Then I flush them with plain water. It seems to work very well.

I'd be very leery about using collodial silver for sanitization. I prefer ozone and ionization to sanitize the tub. This means I don't have to use bromine and it's much easier on all the components and my skin! I'd recommend anyone looking to install a hot tub to think about the ozone/ionization process. I think it's a great alternative to the chemicals.

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    • Outdoor hot tubs may require stronger sanitizers than indoor ones to combat debris.
      By: emf_images
      Outdoor hot tubs may require stronger sanitizers than indoor ones to combat debris.