Hot Tub Etiquette: 10 Simple Rules You Should Know

If you’re reading this, l assume you just got a hot tub or are using someone else’s hot tub. So today let’s talk some ground rules and acceptable behavior.

I don’t want this post to come across as do-this, or don’t-do-that, because every situation is different. Some people are really chill about hot tub rules, others not so much. No matter what, always understand hot tubs can be dangerous if used improperly.

But…hot tubs can be a ton of fun. Here are a couple of hot tub etiquette best practices to ensure everyone has a great experience.

1. Follow posted usage instructions

Above all, always follow the owner or property’s hot tub usage instructions. Most of these ‘hot tub tips’ I’ll cover later can be found on an owner’s posted instructions.

I’ve been at homes where the owner asked us to add some chemicals after each use. You may or may not be required to check chemical levels or add chemicals if renting a place with a hot tub, so know the expectations before check-in.

Some people will send you an email, others have laminated printouts to follow. Hotels typically use signage.

2. Wear a swimsuit by default

Unless in private, always wear a bathing suit when using a hot tub in public. As I recently wrote about in this post on whether or not to use a hot tub naked, there is a time and place for enjoying your own private hot tub at your own home.

Aside from wearing a bathing suit, with time, a hot tub can damage some bathing suits easier than others. Materials like spandex can fade or wear out when exposed to hot tub chemicals, so it’s best to use an old bathing suit if you have one.

So all in all— wear a suit, preferably an older one!

3. Don’t enter dirty

Yes, showering is recommended prior to entering a hot tub…although most people don’t. If you have sand, dirt, or a ton of sweat on your skin…go ahead and shower off first.

Even if you own the hot tub, dirt makes a hot tub’s chemicals work overtime. For public hot tubs that aren’t sanitized frequently, you increase the risk of bacteria forming if you use them without showering.

A properly maintained hot tub can tolerate normal day-to-day dirtiness…but don’t take a dip if you’re absolutely soiled and filthy.

And I shouldn’t have to add another tip…but it’s never cool to get romantic in a public hot tub—especially anything sexual. Most people don’t want to head to the spa or hot tub late at night and have walked in on a couple of people in the middle of it. I know my wife wouldn’t want to hop in after that!

4. Don’t eat messy foods

It’s wise not to eat or drink in a public hot tub. After all, would you want someone else’s beer or chip crumbs floating around when you enter? For private hot tubs, you’re better off sticking to simple foods.

Apples, fruits, and veggies can work if you have a tray or a bar that’s attached to your hot tub but single-serve foods are better. Smoothies with lids or self-contained foods in pouches are generally a safe choice.

5. Best stay away from alcohol

Although a common violation, don’t get intoxicated in a hot tub. It’s best to stay outside the hot tub if you’ll be drinking because heat exposure can some people feel dizzy or lightheaded if normal hot tub session times are not adhered to.

Feeling lightheaded—combined with alcohol—is simply a recipe for disaster you should avoid no matter where you’re using a hot tub.

News outlets continue to report hot tub deaths each year, resulting from people having too much wine. Hot tubs can be make you dehydrated after prolonged use; adding alcohol to the mix doesn’t help.

Aside from alcohol, glass beer bottles and wine bottles can quickly turn a fun evening in the hot tub into a frantic scramble to remove broken glass.

6. Don’t cram people inside

No one wants to use a hot tub after you’ve crammed 11 people in there.

As normal hot tub etiquette, always follow the recommended seating capacity…usually indicated by how many seats (or places to sit) you can see.

Hot tubs will generally have a capacity rating of:

  • 2-4 people (Small)
  • 5-7 people (Medium)
  • 7 or more people (Large)

Adding more people may also overflow your hot tub; you can easily damage your surroundings and cause a chemical imbalance if water overflows. The more people, the more oils and the risk of bacteria.

7. No pets

Although it may seem cute to watch a small dog paddle around with you in a hot tub, don’t do it. Dogs can overheat much easier than humans and even develop skin conditions due to chlorine or bromine found in hot tubs.

While some people let their dogs swim in a pool, hot tubs are a completely different animal to avoid (pun intended).

8. Don’t enter with cuts and sores

Speaking of bacteria, don’t enter a hot tub with big bandages and unhealed sores or cuts is a no-no for a couple of reasons:

  • Guests will be grossed out
  • You can pick up a Staph infection pretty easily if the hot tub is dirty

Healed up cuts? You’re probably okay. But anything fresh…stay out of the hot tub for a while. Hot tubs aren’t designed to treat skin conditions or heal wounds, so don’t use them in this manner.

9. Be careful with the cover

Never sit on a hot tub cover! Most hot tubs have folding covers with an insulating material inside, and may easily crack. Hot tub covers are prone to get damaged.

Hot tubs are a responsibility to own and maintain—keep that in mind if using a hot tub you don’t own. You want to make it easy for some time to invite you back over!

10. Keep your belongings close by

I used to use a spa at an apartment complex back in the day and can tell you petty theft is pretty common. Always bring the bare necessities for your hot tub dip. No need to worry about bringing your wallet or other valuables if you can help it.

If at a hotel or other public place with a hot tub, lock up your belongings in your room and don’t risk it.

One last note

Hot tub etiquette means being aware of the customary code for society—or in this case, other people (the owner or other guests) that want to enjoy a hot tub after you.

Even though acceptable hot tub behavior can vary depending on who you ask, know the room and err on the side of caution. Things can get weird if you don’t take common sense into account!

If you’re creating some house rules after thinking about his subject, you may want to check out my post on hot tub privacy options for yourself and your guests.

If you have any pressing hot tub questions or projects you’d like information on, send me a note here. I’d love to hear from you!

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