How long can you stay in a hot tub? Keep safe with this expert advice

Spending too long in a hot tub can be dangerous – we explain how to avoid the risks

hot tub on deck
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Knowing how long you can stay in a hot tub is important for enjoying these backyard features safely. 

From inflatable designs to high-tech acrylic models, they are a wonderful way to relax and create a spa experience in your plot. But, staying in the water for too long can be dangerous for adults and children alike and must be avoided.

So, if you're ready to snap up one of the best hot tubs, make sure you've brushed up on this advice.

people in hot tub

A hot tub can be a great way to upgrade your outdoor get-togethers

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How long can you stay in a hot tub? Your question answered

Our hot tub ideas may have got you inspired for one of your own – after all, they're the perfect way to relax outdoors and soothe our stresses and any aches and pains. However, our bodies can only enjoy the many health benefits of soaking in a hot tub when it is under optimal conditions to do so, says Christine Kingsley, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse of the Lung Institute. 'This calls for the maximum time spent in the tub to be generally limited to no more than 15 minutes when set on the highest skin-safe water temperature which is 104˚F (40˚C).'

However, underlying medical conditions such as pregnancy, heart issues, or skin issues, and other external factors such as air temperature, weather, or tub material all play a role in how the body becomes affected by hot tub soaking. So, it's critical for each individual to listen to their bodies, she says.

hot tub in landscaped garden with waterfall

Hot tubs give a plot a spa-like feel

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'Getting out of the tub immediately is necessary at any sight of symptoms,' continues Christine. These include light-headedness, nausea, skin reddening, and shortness of breath. Taking a break will allow the body to regulate its core temperature and for symptoms to subside.

Failure to do so may result in you passing out in the tub, which can leave you with skin burns or even cause cardiac arrest, she continues. In fact, according to David Clark, a personal injury trial lawyer of The Clark Law Office, heat overexposure accounts for about 10% of hot tub accidents, coming second after slip and fall injuries.

hot tub with parasol on sunny decking

Remember to protect yourself from the midday sun, too

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'Seeking guidance from your primary healthcare provider must be a prerequisite if you plan to incorporate tub soaking into your lifestyle, because they know your body and its medical history the best,' says Christine.

'Moreover, to better help the body adjust to the tub's temperature, one must stay hydrated the entire time,' she adds. The experts at The Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA) agree, advising to use non-glass products.

Although it may seem tempting, putting your head underwater is a risky hot tub mistake and should never be done, SPATA adds. 'The high-water temperature can potentially lead to loss of consciousness.'

How long can children use a hot tub for?

'Always supervise children when they are using the hot tub (and the medical advice is to avoid children under four years using the hot tub),' SPATA says.

It's important to note that they are also vulnerable to scalding burns and heat overexposure in hot tubs. 'They have smaller bodies and their skin has elevated temperatures, therefore, they can't handle heat as well as adults,' explains David. 'Their body won't be able to regulate internal temperatures, which can lead to hyperthermia.'

Be vigilant in checking that the temperature isn't too hot, and ensure they leave the tub immediately if any adverse symptoms occur. To err on the side of caution, reduce the length of time that they stay in the tub to under 10 minutes.

children in hot tub

Children should always be supervised when using a hot tub

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How long can pregnant women use a hot tub for?

Hot tubs can be dangerous for pregnant women, David says, especially during the first three months of pregnancy. This isn't just because of the heat – it's also because of the risk of harmful bacteria that can accumulate in the water (although proper hot tub maintenance can help reduce this). 

For this reason, it's best to avoid using a hot tub completely if you're pregnant. However, after the first trimester, taking a dip may be possible for short amounts of time, if approved by your doctor first. 

Even then, there are precautions you should take, explains Healthline. These include using the tub for no more than 10 minutes at a time, allowing plenty of cooling-off time in between sessions, and keeping your chest above the water level where possible.

Ready to add a hot tub to your backyard, now you know how long you can safely stay in it? Here are some of our favorite hot tub deals.

Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.