Swimming pools are great for both exercise and relaxation, but can also become a harbinger of germs if not properly maintained which is why it’s important to shower before and after swimming.

Recreational water illnesses, such as skin infections and parasites, can be spread in swimming pools by swallowing or coming in contact with contaminated water. Luckily, showering before and after swimming is actually one of the best and easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illness. Despite this, the majority of Americans (93%) would never reuse someone else’s bathwater, but more than 40 percent don’t shower before entering the pool, according to the Water Quality and Health Council.

To keep your family safe this summer, AquaMobile brings you three reasons why you should shower before and after swimming:

1. Reduce the Spread of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs):

If you don’t shower before swimming, you allow fecal matter to mix with the pool water.

Surprisingly (and disgusting to know), we all have small amounts of fecal matter on our bodies any given day. On average, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that people have 0.14 grams of fecal matter on their bodies throughout the day. Swallowing even a small amount of water with fecal matter has the potential to make you sick.

When swimmers shower, they prevent the risk of recreational waterborne illnesses that cause diarrhea, skin infections and eye infections.

Pool disinfectants such as chlorine protect and prevent waterborne germs. However, chlorine does not kill all germs immediately. Chlorine can take anywhere from a few minute to a several days to be effective
and pool disinfectants may not work in all situations. With high chlorine levels, it can take up to a week to kill the harmful cryptosporidium parasite, even in chlorine-treated water. If the pool chemistry isn’t carefully adjusted and has high amounts of impurities in it, it will be harder for chlorine to kill germs in the water.

The Center for Disease Control suggests that parents give their children several bathroom breaks often, and let children take showers after each when swimming.

2. Combining Organic Compounds in water can negatively impact your health

Organic compounds can be found in deodorants, soaps, moisturizers, sweat, detergents, and fecal matter. When organic compounds are mixed with chlorinated water, by-products are created. These by-products are gases called chloramines. Chloramines lead to that infamous chlorine smell we think is actually a sign of a clean pool. Wrong. The smell of chloramine is a sign the water isn’t maintained to the highest quality. A well-managed pool should have little to no chlorine odor.

Showering sends organic compound down the drain and will mean the chlorine and pool filtration system don’t have to work as hard to prevent illnesses.

3. Post-Swim Shower Removes Bacteria

Showering after swimming is equally important.

Post-swim showers help prevent and reduce your chances of contracting recreational water illnesses. They remove any contaminants that your skin came in contact with while you were in the pool. It also removes chlorine, chloramines, and bacteria from the body. If they are left on your skin, they can cause rashes or other irritations.

How else can you stay safe?

Here are a few more tips for avoiding swimming pool illnesses:

  • Shower before swimming and use soap. Particularly on your hands and back of the legs.
  • If you leave the pool to go to the washroom, take a rinse shower again before going back in
  • Never swallow pool water