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

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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. Can i use a stainless steal spray bottle? I use that for my bug spray i make with essential oils instead of glass ones i use in the house

    1. I wouldn't think it is a problem but I am seeing studies showing a reaction b/t stainless and sodium ascorbate so to be safe I wouldn't do it unless you do further research.

  2. Hi, thanks for a great article! I live in Cambodia and my city has highly chlorinated water. Whilst I am grateful for this because it kills many of the nasties in the drinking water obviously it brings other issues. Even after boiling my water and filtering I can still smell a strong chlorine smell. I am going to try boiling longer because apparently this reduces Chloramine but I think it will also help to add Vitamin C. I can't wait to try your spray for after showers etc, as well as swimming of course! I just have one question, is the product of Sodium Ascorbate you recommend from iHerb the same product that I could put in my drinking water? If so, would you happen to know quantities?

    1. Hi Emma--I hadn't heard about using this to denature chlorine in drinking water but I guess it could work. Sodium ascorbate is safe to use internally. I have read that you can use ascorbic acid as well and that it's 2.8 parts to 1 part of chlorine so you would need to know the amt of chlorine in the water.

      Here is some information on using both: https://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/html/05231301/05231301.html

    1. Hi there--I just updated the post. I'm reading that after 1-2 days it will lose its effectiveness but I haven't researched that enough yet. Thanks for reading!

  3. Don't
    you spray it on after your post swim shower..rather than before the shower?

    and I cannot find Sodium ascot ate for sale anywhere.

    plus
    where do I get the spay you mention? i prefer not to use Amazon, however
    Many thanks

  4. This sounds amazing, I can’t wait to try it! Do you recommend using it before or after showering after getting out of the pool?

    1. Hi there - thanks! The post has instructions but you use it after swimming--you can go back to see the information in the post. Thanks for reading and hope it works well for you!

  5. I'm not that much one of those people who engage with an article, to be honest ,but this one is truly eye-opener! Just bookmarked a few of your other posts for down the road. All the best

  6. I usually have a shower before going to the pool and apply some oil.
    Is it ok to use the spray on oily hair after swimming.

    Tks.

  7. Silly question, but you mention apply spray after, rub, then shower. Does the chlorinated water need to be on skin for spray to deactivate? I was swimming, showering, then spray/rub. Thanks for your clarification.

    1. My understanding is that the spray works to deactivate the chlorine by putting it on your skin when the water is still there.

  8. I currently use a body oil with essential oils after swimming. but I love this idea. could I add the vitamin C to my current oil or does it need to be a spray?

    1. Hi there - thanks I think that should be OK if it dissolves well for you. No need for it to be a spray. However, you would have to wash it off so it might not come off as easily.

  9. Sodium ascorbate seemed to get the chlorine smell out, but I think it dried out my hair. Natural suggestions for restoring moisture and resilience to hair?

    1. I'm sorry! Most likely I would think that the chlorine did it, but maybe you are right. I personally use Beautycounter shampoo & conditioner and Giovanni Leave in Conditioner - mentioned in this post. https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/haircare-ingredients-to-avoid/

      I sometimes use some argan oil as well. My hair is quite dry but this seems to help.

      Oh - this post has some great DIY Hair Masks that should help! https://wholenewmom.com/whole-new-budget/diy-hair-masks/

  10. Hi Adrienne,

    This is really helpful. Thanks for sharing!
    So my question is: Can I just use the bottled spring water instead of filtered water?

    Thanks,

    Kaitlyn

  11. Do you have any idea if this helps protect against allergies to chlorine? I love swimming but over the years I have become so sensitive to it that I cant be around it at all, but I absolutely love being in the water

    1. I would think possibly since it denatures it but not sure so maybe try it and see how it goes?

  12. Hello. I’ve got a Natural vitamin C powder made from acerola cherry. Can I use that, will it have the same effect? Thank you.

        1. I don't think it will work b/c it's a whole food product. Might be messy too b/c of the color. I can't figure out the science behind it. I see the reaction that ascorbic and sodium ascorbate lead to but I don't know about the food based vitamin.

  13. How long can this be stored? I can only find small spray bottles (50-60mL) and my is crap so I can't work out what the amount of vitamin C for that much water would be. Could I create a jar and pour what I need into a small spray as I go?

    1. I really don't recommend storing water based products longer than 4 days so be careful. Just divide the total amount and make a smaller amount.

      1. Is there a suitable preservative that can be added to stabilize the liquid suspension for longer than four days?

        1. You would want a full spectrum one probably but some others could help. Actually I am looking at commercial ones and they don't have preservatives so it's possible that the vitamin C does a good enough job so perhaps it's not needed. I can't be on the hook for that but it might be good enough :).

  14. Wish I could swim in ocean. Or, . .have my own pool, and not use chlorine.

    I have a uterine fibroid, that I wonder if it was in part caused by this.

    Really need the excercise of swimming.
    I hear saline pools still have chlorine. Get worse in saline. Tighter skin feeling in chlorine. What to do ? My face looks like **** since stint of swimming.

    1. Hi there. The Cl info on salt pools is confusing. I can imagine that your skin can feel bad in either. Sorry you are having that situation.