Chlorine shortage could threaten a summer of fun for pool and hot tub owners

Reports of worldwide problems with the supply of chlorine are fuelling fears that backyard hot tubs and pools will be hit

family in a hot tub on a deck
(Image credit: Aqua Spa)

Just as hotter weather hits the US and UK, hot tub and pool owners are facing fears that the worldwide shortage of chlorine, the most popular sanitizer for home use with hot tubs, swimming pools and swim spas, will affect their outdoor fun this summer.

There are already widely reported shortages of chlorine in the US, where two chemical plants, in Louisiana and Passaic, New Jersey, have been struck by Hurricane Laura and fire, in 2020 and January this year respectively.

Global supply and delivery delays caused by the pandemic, and the increase in hot tub and pool use during lockdowns, has made the situation worse, leading to the closure of public pools all over the world. 

So if you've invested in one of the best hot tubs or above ground pools for your backyard, what does it mean for you? 

water flowing into a hot tub

(Image credit: Aqua Spa)

Impact of the chlorine shortage

'There is a shortage of some chlorine products and they are products normally used with commercial pools,' says Chris Hayes, managing director of BISHTA (British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association). 'Domestic hot tub owners probably have got enough choice of chlorine or bromide products.”  

He adds that so far, we 'are not seeing pools shutting en masse in the UK. If they do, it is also likely to do with the massive energy bills they are now getting, unless they have really sustainable heating and power systems.'

woman sitting in an outdoor spa

(Image credit: DelightFull)

Prepare for price rises but avoid hoarding

The US can expect to witness a 58 per cent increase in chlorine prices this year compared to last year, according to a Goldman Sachs report on the shortage, using data from IHS Markit, a business analysis service. 

The Goldman Sachs report notes that prior to the chlorine shortage, a typical 50-pound bucket of chlorine tablets would have cost $75 to $85. In 2022, this is likely to have increased to around $250, meaning a 212.5 percent chlorine tablet price increase in 2022. 

So far, such huge price increases have not been witnessed in the UK, but there are already reports of worried buyers stockpiling chlorine tablets and chlorine powder for their hot tub maintenance, which will potentially cause prices to rise further.

hot tub underneath a stone and timber pergola at night

(Image credit: Redwood Stone)

Consider alternatives

Some hot tubs now offer a choice of sanitizing with either chlorine or bromine, an alternative chemical. You can also run a saltwater or oxygenated sanitizing system which obviates the need for chemicals. 

But if you’re thinking of making a switch, Chris advises that you must always check with the manufacturer or supplier of your hot tub first to ensure your model will be compatible with an alternative to chlorine: 'Ideally get their advice in writing too, in case a problem occurs.'

Never, ever use household bleach or disinfectant in a hot tub or backyard pool, as it will be harmful to your health and the mechanism of pumps, jets and filters.

Jayne Dowle
Freelance writer

Jayne Dowle is an award-winning gardening, homes and property writer who writes for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. She was awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021.