DIY After Swim Chlorine Neutralizing Spray

Today I'm sharing with you a simple recipe for something to make your summer a safer one -- an After Swim Chlorine Neutralizing Spray, aka a DIY After Swim Spray.

It works great, is easy to use, and when you make it yourself, it's super frugal too!

Swim spray in a spray bottle, goggles, and pool towel on a table

It's summer....and with that comes a time at the beach -- and the pool.

And with the pool comes exposure to tons of chlorine, something that I am not a fan of.

Chlorine is a problem in so many arenas of our life.  It's in our tap water, it's in bleach that so many uses in household cleaning applications, and it's in use heavily in most swimming pools. If you have the privilege of frequenting a salt pool instead of a chlorine pool, your exposure to chlorine is much less, but it is still something to consider.

In any case, chlorine is a friend only in the sense that it kills bad stuff like bacteria and viruses.

Clearly, it has its place.

Who really wants to swim in a pool where some kid might have done something .... you know.....), and there are all kinds of things in our water that we don't want coming out of our taps.

However, chlorine in and of itself carries with it its own health concerns.

We all know how when you spend too much time in a chlorinated pool, you tend to have some seemingly harmless effects such as red eyes and maybe a rash.

However, the health implications go beyond that.

Chlorine carries with it the following potential health risks.  Chlorine can:

- dry out your hair
- cause breathing problems
- cause dental erosion
- dry out your skin
- cause still births
- cause bladder cancer
- lead to rectal cancer
- cause cardiovascular disease
- cause allergies through sensitization

Sources: 

https://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA361110/dangers-of-chlorine.html
https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/chemical_terrorism/chlorine_general.htm
https://www.medicaldaily.com/toxic-water-asthma-and-other-health-dangers-swimming-chlorinated-pools-246927

Wow.

I don't know about you, but after reading that list, I'm really really concerned about chlorine exposure -- more than I was before.  Did you have any idea it could be that problematic?

I know for myself, I have a hard time walking by the swimming pool in a hotel.  I just don't. want. to. be. there.

Simply way too much chlorine.

Anyhow, this past year we moved into a new (to us) home.  One of the lovely things about our new place is that there is a community pool.  I didn't think we'd love it since I'm no longer into sunning myself (I way overdid that in my teen years) and don't really like chlorine (probably is very similar to the chemical sensitivity that makes me react to artificial fragrances), but this year we have really enjoyed it -- especially my boys.

We pay a little extra for the boys to have swim lessons at the pool and one of the requirements is that they must shower after leaving the pool.  I'm glad for that, but I don't want my boys using the toxic shampoo and such that is provided, so I send them with non-toxic options.

However, this year I really have noticed that the chlorine smell still lingers, even after their prolific use of the natural products I send with them (I can tell by how little is left after not that many trips to the pool!).

Turns out that normal shampoo and other cleaning products leave behind a chlorine film.

Not good.

Besides the issues above with chlorine and health issues, my oldest has Asperger's Syndrome and we already know that he has detox issues, so I really don't want the extra toxic burden on his body.  And with all of the toxins in our environment, it makes sense to additional ones as much as possible.

I want the chlorine to be gone!

Vitamin C Neutralizes Chlorine

Apparently what happens is that the vitamin C reacts with chlorine to form dehydroascorbic acid and hydrochloric acid.

Hydrochloric acid? That's stomach acid.  And while I love it for helping out with digestion and it worked wonders on my rosacea, do you really want this on your skin?

Don't worry - - from what I have read, the amount produced here is not of concern.

What Kind of Vitamin C to Use for this DIY Swim Spray?

Two kinds of Vitamin C neutralize chlorine -- sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid.

While either version of vitamin C - ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate - will work for this after swim spray, there are several reasons why sodium ascorbate is the better choice here.

First, ascorbic acid will lower pH, while sodium ascorbate will not.  When you are spraying something on your skin, better to spray the non-acidic item than the acidic one.

Secondly, sodium ascorbate dissolves much more readily than does ascorbic acid.

DIY Swim Spray with beach towel and swimming googles

This spray is great because it's very inexpensive to make. You can, of course buy it pre-made, but this is the easy peasiest of the easy peasiest.

And it doesn't sting.

What kind of bottle to use for this Vitamin C Spray?

Use a high quality plastic bottle. Plastic of course to prevent any breakage around the pool area where bare feet could end up with painful slivers in them--high quality so that the optional essential oils and vitamin C won't or won't be likely to cause leaching of the plastic.

Notes: The essential oils in the spray are mostly for fragrance purposes, but they are nourishing to the skin so they have that added benefit as well.

You should notice that your hair and skin smell much better after using this spray than if you only showered using shampoo and soap.

Please note that there is no full spectrum preservative in this product so it might not have a very long shelf life. However, the commercial swim sprays don't either so the vitamin C itself might be enough. Use your best judgment.

Please also note that the essential oils are optional and you should use an essential oil emulsifier with them should you choose to use them. There is a lot of information on the internet that is incorrect about what is a good emulsifier and what isn't.

I hope to have more information on that in the future but in the meantime, do your own research and make your best judgement. Of course, by all means, leave out the essential oils if you like.

Where to Buy Sodium Ascorbate

You can get the powder that I use on Amazon or here at Iherb. If it's your first time using Iherb, you will get a discount with your first order.

Bottle of swim spray , pool towel and goggles

After Swim Chlorine Neutralizing Spray

5 from 3 votes
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Ingredients

Optional Essential Oils

Instructions

  • Using a funnel, add water to a glass bottle or stable plastic spray bottle.
  • Add the ascorbic acid.
  • Add essential oils (if using).
  • Put lid on bottle and shake to combine.
  • After swimming, spray the solution all over, including on hair.
  • Rub the vitamin c spray in, making sure to cover all of your skin.  If the Vitamin C doesn't cover your skin, it won't protect it.
  • Shower as usual.

Notes

To find out why I chose the essential oils company linked to above, you can go to the start of the "best" essential oils series, or find out more about my choice for the best essential oils company.
 
NOTE: You might want to use this solution within 1-2 days of making it as it might lose its effectiveness after that.
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholenewmom or tag #wholenewmom!

Don't Feel Like DIYing?

Here is a great brand of store-bought swim spray on Amazon.

store bought swim spray

Do you and your family swim often?
Have you ever used an After Swim Spray to neutralize chlorine?

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127 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    really love the swim spray.chlorine is a big issue with me ,it really makes me itch! when i try to sleep at night after swimming ,its hard to go to sleep because of the itching. Iwas buying rose hip oil (very expensive).

    1. So glad to hear how this is helping your skin--AND your wallet :)! Hurrah! Chlorine is so not good for you - your skin was telling you ;).

  2. I'm much enjoying this recipe, and I use it every morning. I do have a question. How long does the After swim spray stay viable? I use it rather quickly, so I'm inclined to make 2 or 3 cups or more at a time. If I keep it for a month will it still neutralize Chlorine?

    So far it works well for me so I use it on my hair, heels, nails, fingers and shoulders. Issues with all of them have turned around, and I'm very thankful.

    1. Hi there. I'm so glad you like it and wow...that's so interesting about your results. What are you noticing turning around?

      I don't know how long it will last--some sources online say 1-2 days, others say that it might lessen effectiveness after that and that store bought sprays are more stable, but many / most store bought sprays have the same ingredients, so I don't know what to say about that. I think if it's working for you and not smelling off then you should be OK but please use your best judgement.

      1. 5 stars
        The main issue was my cracked heels, but brittle fingernails and skin problems on my fingertips were also bothering me. My hair was often stiff after swimming as well. Also my shoulders would be very itchy, and my wife tells me I had a rash on my shoulders.

        To be fair, I can't be certain it's all about the spray because I'm doing other things too. I use before swim and after swim lotion on my heels and I spray my hair down before and after my swim, with this spray. I do believe it helps, and I will continue until I see evidence otherwise.

        All that has improved and I've not noticed a smell or reduction in effectiveness yet. I'm making 2 cup batches, so I'll know soon if the spray gets gamey or weak. I hope not, since mixing it up every couple days wouldn't work for me.

        All the best,
        Steve

        1. How interesting. Yes, could be from the chlorine and could be that the vitamin c is acting like a great antioxidant in those areas for you. I'm so glad to hear this! Thanks for taking the time to share! Would be interesting to know how you end up with your experiment as far as shelf life goes :).

      2. I had never even heard of swim spray. But, since I have been thinking of adding swimming as a form of exercise as soon as I am able (get other health concerns taken care of) I will be sure to try it then.

  3. 5 stars
    My teen daughter-who is a competitive swimmer- loves this spray. Chlorine causes her skin to break out in a rash, so getting it off with a DIY spray is great & economical. I haven't tried it with the essential oils- we avoid lavender as it has an estrogen effect on the body which we need to avoid. I may have to try the frankincense!

    1. Hi there - I'm so glad to hear that this is a help for you! About the lavender, that's a complicated topic. Can you tell me where you got that information because I followed that for awhile in detail and even Robert Tisserand says that it's not the case. There was another study done later as well that I believe showed that it wasn't an issue. One thing to keep in mind is that the 3 case studies that started this whole thing were 3 people who weren't using the oil per se (and if they were--was it pure?) but they were using commercial personal care products with the "oil" in it--so it could have been other ingredients in there that caused the problem. Let me know - I have more thoughts.

  4. is there a time limit on how long after chlorine exposure the spray would be effective for? I'm asking because my children participate in swimming 10-11AM at daycare four days a week and I pick them up at 3:00 and have been giving them a scrub down with soap and water at that time (Honest Company soap). Daycare is already finding us "extra" about other things so I wondered if it would still be effective if we sprayed them with the Vit C spray at home and rubbed it in prior to washing or if it has to be directly after the chlorine exposure.

    Thank you!

    1. It has to be after the chlorine exposure. They should be considering using this on all of the kids. Maybe show them the post. We can wake people up one person at a time. Hugs.

  5. Adrienne, I bought Swimspray online about 3 months ago and have been using it 3 times a week.
    I have also bought sodium ascorbate and distilled water to make my own when I use up the other.
    I just recently noticed that most of the hair on my arms is gone and my hair is thinning.
    Would the Vit C be the cause or is it the chlorine?

    1. Hi there. Sorry that is happening to you. I can't imagine it's from the vitamin C. I would think that the chlorine could cause hair loss. Have you looked online for more information?

  6. Thanks for the useful article. I have been suffering from rashes and itchiness for years because of chlorine. I have tried hydrating creams and cortisone cream. That helps, but the best solution is just get the chlorine off of my skin.

    I wanted to mention that SwimSpray Chlorine removal spray that you provided the link to Amazon for contains both Sodium Ascorbate and Ascorbic Acid. So, I am not convinced that it is necessary to avoid using vitamin C in the form of Ascorbic Acid.

    The upside of that point is thatVitamin C tablets that contain Sodium Ascorbate and Ascorbic Acid can be bought at the local pharmacy for a lot cheaper that pure Sodium Ascorbate powder. I tried it on my swimsuit and it got rid of the chlorine smell. I also noted that the vitamin C tablets dissolved well in water in about an hour.

    I suggest throwing about a teaspoon's worth of vitamin C tablets into a bottle containing about a cup of water on arrival at the pool. After swimming, rub the solution on your hair and body. Then take your normal shower with soap and shampoo.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I don't think ascorbic has to be avoided--I just gave a few reasons why one might want to use sodium ascorbate instead.

      Good idea about the tablets!

  7. I have stainless steel spray bottles at home. Is there any reason I wouldn't want to use one of those?
    Also very how often would you recommend re making this?
    Thank you!!

    1. I think that should be OK. I'm reading various things about metal and vitamin C, but I think it should be OK. One place said no, but I am guessing it's fine. Sorry I don't know for sure!

  8. Hi! Thank you for this post. It came just in time for my son's 2 week swim lessons. I've been using just the sodium ascorbate and water mixture, but want to add emulsified essential oils. How much polysorbate 20 would you add to this recipe to ensure the oils emulsify?

    I've been making this batch every other day so I guarantee potency: 2TBSP water + 1/8 tsp sodium ascorbate. [This lasts about 2 days for my 5 yr olds body. :)]

    1. Hi and you are so welcome! I am not a master formulator, but my understanding is that you use a 1:1 amount of oil with emulsifier. I hope that helps!

      1. Adrienne, what happens if you use too much powder you mentioned "another problem". It that important to not make the solution strong?

        1. I'm just thinking it could be irritating possibly. I don't think it's a big concern actually so I just removed that from the post. Thanks for the heads up and the good question!