How Long Is Too Long in A Hot Tub?

Ending a stressful week with a long soak in a hot tub can be truly invigorating. You let all your troubles melt away, but if you feel like something else might be melting as well, then you have been in that hot tub for far too long. But how long should your hot tub session last?

Generally, the length of time you should stay in a hot tub is between 15 and 30 minutes but this does depend on variables such as the water temperature and your age. The hotter the water the less time you should spend in the hot tub without taking a break.

But there’s a lot more to this.

How long should you stay in a hot tub
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So how long should you stay in a hot tub?

There are no hard and fast rules about how long you can safely stay in the hot tub. It may affect some people differently from others depending on their tolerance for heat.

There are only certain guidelines for using a hot tub safely that include awareness of possible symptoms that increase the risk of potential problems.

How long it is comfortable to use a hot tub varies from person to person so you should be aware of the warning signs of overheating and the various potential problems caused by soaking in water too long.

The following should be simply used as a rough guide. Ultimately the choice of how long to use the hot tub without a break is up to you. If in doubt, get out!

If you’re going to soak in temperatures between 100°F (37.5ºC) and 104°F (40ºC), don’t stay longer than 15-30 minutes.

If you are healthy, then using a hot tub at temperatures around your body temperature (98.6ºF) should mean you could stay in for longer without any ill effects.

It’s better to be on the safe side than risk your health so, if in doubt, ensure you are not using your hot tub for too long – no longer than 15-20 minutes at a time.

What happens if you stay in a hot tub too long?

Although it may sound very melodramatic, and perhaps far-fetched, it is possible for death to occur in extreme cases when the “wrong people” ignore the warnings and spend too much time in a hot tub.

Dehydration can occur when being emersed in really hot water for a prolonged period of time due to excessive sweating. This could lead to a number of related problems such as fatigue or nausea.

Symptoms could be worse when drinking inadequate quantities of water.

Although many people do it, drinking alcohol in a hot tub is generally not recommended as not only could the symptoms described below happen quicker but those that are drinking alcohol may be less likely to notice them if they do. Having said that, I certainly have in the days when I drank alcohol and I am not alone there.

You may get pruney fingers if you stay in too long. This is when your fingertips particularly get wrinkled and is caused by the blood vessels contracting when immersed in water for long periods. According to WebMD pruney fingers is not at all harmful though

why can t you stay in a hot tub long
Drinking alcohol in a hot tub is generally not recommended

The danger signs of overheating

Here is a list of possible symptoms of overheating in a hot tub to look out for.

Safety is important when using a hot tub, so be mindful of the following:

  1. Nausea
  2. Headache
  3. Fatigue or weakness
  4. Feeling Dizzy
  5. Confusion
  6. Irritability
  7. Thirst

Even in young, fit, healthy people, these symptoms can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition known as heatstroke. So if you are older, and perhaps not in particularly good health, you should take particular care and watch out for any of these symptoms.

To avoid any of these, keep to the recommended hot tub soak time.

Factors that affect how long to stay in the hot tub

Hot tub temperature

Your body will feel happy at around a pleasant 98°F (36.5ºC), so when you soak in water that is above 100°F (37.5ºC), there is a risk of overheating. The reason for this is that body/blood temperature is 98.6ºF (37ºC) so anything above this feels hot (and anything below feels cool).

Under normal circumstances, perhaps when exercising, or if the weather is just hot, as you heat up your body will try to cool itself down through perspiration. As the perspiration evaporates it cools down the body.

Of course, if you are getting hot because you are sitting in a hot tub, although you will still sweat, it will not help to cool you. But the higher the hot tub temperature, the greater the amount you will sweat, so the quicker you will dehydrate.

When your hot tub is at its hottest (say 104ºF), your body just can’t keep up so your body’s core temperature will start to rise and you may start feeling unwell. As your body temperature increases, this may lead to overheating, raising of blood pressure and eventually even heat stroke.

Outside temperature

what happens if you stay in a hot tub for too long

If it’s summer, then a nice, slightly cooler, soak than normal is a great way to stay refreshed, but still be wary of staying too long, as the heat from the sun and the water are may still cause your own temperature to rise.

If you use your hot tub outside in the wintertime, this can potentially allow you to stay in for longer periods, particularly if you do not immerse your whole body in the water. Having your upper body exposed to the cold air will help keep your core body temperature lower for longer.

But don’t forget, as soon as you leave the warmth of the hot tub, the cold air will start bringing your temperature down quickly. This in itself can cause dizziness, so be careful and wrap yourself in a towel as soon as you exit.

Perhaps many Scandinavians might disagree as they seem to like nothing more than sitting in a sauna at very high temperatures and then immediately after rolling in the snow.

Sitting level

Many hot tubs have seats that are at different heights to allow you to sit to achieve different levels of submersion.

But that’s not the only reason. This is a safety measure put in place for you to move from lower to higher seats so your body can cool down. Make use of it and avoid sitting at the lowest point for too long.

If you sit too low even for 15 minutes, your body temperature will rise faster. Using alternating seat heights will allow you to stay in your hot tub longer.

Overall health

You should always check with your doctor whether it’s safe for you to use a hot tub, particularly if you have any ongoing health issues.

Generally, people who are more at risk of overheating when using a hot tub (especially at maximum temperature) are pregnant women, the elderly, people with diabetes, people who have had a stroke or have a heart condition, as well as those with low or high blood pressure. Even those with sensitive skin need to be careful.

Keep track of how you are feeling and if at any point you start experiencing negative effects, leave the tub and cool down.

Your age

how long can you stay in a hot tub

If you are a healthy adult, it’s safe for you to soak for 15-30 minutes at higher temperatures. As you get older you may find that your body cannot take such extreme temperatures for as long so you may need to stay in for less time, particularly if you have blood pressure problems.

Research shows that if you have children, you need to keep the temperature low. If it’s at the maximum of 104°F (40ºC), don’t let them stay for more than 5 minutes or even use it at all. You should read this article from kidspluspgh.com about hot tubs and children’s safety.

It’s safest to keep to the ideal hot tub temperature which is a balmy 98°F (36.5ºC), but even then children shouldn’t stay inside for longer than 15 minutes.

Have in mind that hot tubs are extremely unsafe for children under the age of 5. Always be there to supervise your child when they’re playing in the hot tub, and make sure they don’t stay in longer than 15 minutes.

I have a separate article specifically about what is the best hot tub temperature in various situations.

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How Long Is Too Long in A Hot Tub? 1

How to time your hot tub sessions

When you lie relaxing in a hot tub, letting your thoughts drift off, it is easy to lose track of time. That is certainly true for me.

Many hot tubs have an automatic timer when the pump is on high-speed mode and that is often set to switch off after 20 minutes. I use this as a method of gauging how long I have been in my hot tub.

As an alternative, you can buy a cheap waterproof timer and set this when you get in your hot tub as a reminder of how long you have been soaking.

Dretec digital timer

The Dretec digital timer is highly rated on Amazon and is waterproof for up to 30 minutes, should you accidentally knock it into the hot tub.

Important safety measures

Responsible hot tub owners should follow proper maintenance guidelines to avoid accidents. Keep it clean and tidy and check the hot tub chemicals regularly to ensure they are at the correct level. Hot tub chemicals damage skin if too high leading to hot tub rash.

And be even more careful if the hot tub isn’t yours.

What also matters is that you don’t use electronics inside hot tubs, avoid drinking alcoholic beverages and make sure you have a drain cover that will catch hair.

If you feel any of the listed symptoms of heat exhaustion, be careful when exiting the hot tub, especially if you experience dizziness.

Stay safe in your hot tub

Following the above rules of hot tub use will ensure your experience is enjoyable every time. If you want to use your hot tub for longer than 15-30 minutes, you should certainly consider taking a break between soaks.

Also read

Should you leave a hot tub on all the time?

How to shock a hot tub

Does a hot tub heat up faster with jets on?

Can you stay in a hot tub for 2 hours?

A healthy adult may be able to stay in a hot tub for 2 hours or more but the risks are not really worth it. You are far better to stay in for 20 minutes or so and then get out for 10 minutes before returning to give your body time to cool down.

How long can you stay in a hot tub at 100 degrees?

Normal blood temperature is 98.6ºF so if the hot tub temperature is 100 degrees over time your body temperature is likely to increase so even a young, fit adult should not stay in for more than 30 minutes.

Is it OK to hot tub every day?

It certainly is safe to use a hot tub every day. In fact, for most healthy people using a hot tub every day can have benefits as the hot water and the jets can soothe sore muscles and help you relax.

Further reading

You may find the following hot tub articles on this website interesting:

What are the pros and cons of a hot tub

Does sitting in a hot tub burn calories

How much chlorine to add to a hot tub for the first time