What to Wear in a Hot Tub (Beware of These Swimsuit Contaminants)

Jennifer Rhodes

By Jennifer Rhodes · Updated

What to Wear in a Hot Tub (Beware of These Swimsuit Contaminants)

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When it's time to head to the hot tub, what do you wear? If you're thinking of wearing a swimsuit, there are some things that you should know.

When you hear people talking about hot tub attire, you might think they mean having a cute swimsuit to show off. But while that's an important part of enjoying the hot tub experience, the attire dilemma goes a bit deeper than that. The first thing you need to know is that wearing a swimsuit in a hot tub is actually not recommended if you can avoid it.

However, we know that going without a swimsuit is not always practical. In this article, we'll go over some spa-safe alternatives.

Should you wear a bathing suit in a hot tub?

If you refer to the same swimsuit you use in a pool, lake, ocean, or the beach, then the answer is no. Swimsuits can not only carry contaminants like minerals and biological agents; they may also be full of detergent and sunscreen.

You don't want to bring any of that into your hot tub.

Over time, these contaminants can build up and cause the hot tub to get cloudy or produce foam. It also increases the risk of bringing in something dangerous which could lead to slime, mold, or algae growth.

It might not be good for the swimsuit either: the material may not be able to stand up to the hot tub chemicals, and can fade and wear over time. This is especially true for expensive swimsuits—a luxury that is a waste if you're going to let it get ruined by a hot tub.

So, what are your options?

Option 1: Go for the birthday suit

After all this back and forth about swimsuits, you may be wondering if you can just forgo the hassle and use the hot tub naked.

Well, the answer is: absolutely!

Bathing in your birthday suit is a great way to avoid ruining a swimsuit, while also saving your hot tub from detergent or other contaminants it could introduce.

The only concern you could face hot-tubbing naked is that a neighbor may see you. You can easily solve that problem by putting some kind of roof over your tub.

Of course, going naked won't be possible for everyone. If you're uncomfortable with that, then there is another option.

Option 2: Have a separate, dedicated swimsuit

Sometimes it's not a question of if you can wear a swimsuit in a hot tub, but rather, which is the right one.

The answer to this is to buy a separate suit, which you keep only for hot tub use.

Get a suit that's made from thick, durable fabric that can stand up to the chemicals and heat—but also not one you care about too much.

In addition to having a separate suit, you also need to take care of it properly. Just like when swimming in a lake or pool, you'll want to rinse your suit after using it in the hot tub. This will remove any chemicals left on it and prevent unnecessary damage.

If you are unsure if a guest's bathing suit is clean, ask them to rinse off before getting in the hot tub. The more care you take, the better (both for the swimsuits and the hot tub).

Can you wear regular clothes in a hot tub?

Don't have a swimsuit handy?

Some people figure that they can just jump in a hot tub wearing whatever they want. Underwear, sportswear... maybe even going so far as to wear a cotton t-shirt and denim shorts.

Please, don't do that.

Not only will the chemicals in the hot tub fade and possibly degrade your clothes, but the fibers and dyes that will leach out can also be damaging to the hot tub.

Also, the whole point of a hot tub is to be comfortable and relaxed. Stiff jean shorts are the last thing you want to try to relax in!


If you're a person who is happy not to wear a swimsuit in the hot tub, then going without one is an option. However, be aware that neighbors might see you and there's always potential for unwanted exposure if anyone else can access your backyard area.

If this concerns you or isn't practical for other reasons (you don't have any place private enough), another alternative would be to buy a separate suit just for use with the hot tub—and make sure it gets rinsed after each time it's worn. This will keep contaminants from building up on the fabric.

Most importantly, if your swimsuit has been worn in a lake or the ocean, you should avoid wearing it in a hot tub. This is because untreated water can introduce contaminants into your spa that could lead to algae growth.

Even detergent left in a swimsuit can be a problem. This can cause foam when agitated by the hot tub jets.

Finally, if a suit is dirty from previous use, then bacteria and fungi can grow on it—which may transfer to your spa. Ew! For this reason, always try to insist that guests rinse off before entering your hot tub.

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