What that chlorine smell at the pool really means

Many of us have been taught to appreciate the smell of clean like the smell of bleach or chlorine. Maybe not necessarily to the degree of hospital clean, but clean to the point stinky smells are, well, not so stinky.

The smell of chlorine when walking into a public swimming pool area is supposed to be the smell of clean, but this is one health belief that truly is a misunderstood myth. The reason is because when you smell “pool clean”, is what you’re actually smelling are chemical reactions with human grime.

Yewww, right? You may not want to take a deep breath of that fresh pool smell any more. Good thing no one makes pool smell as an air fresher. Moving on…

Chlorine is added to swimming pools to disinfect the water. When you walk into a pool area and are taken back by that smell of “clean”, what you’re actually smelling is chloramines.

During the disinfection process, chloramines are produced from the chemical reaction of chlorine disinfectants and human grime in the form of oils, perspiration and urine (nice, no?).

If you enter a swimming pool and the smell of chloramines (chlorine) makes your eyes water, that’s a sign it has been improperly treated, not that there’s too much chlorine in the water. That is another health myth. When your eyes burn, it’s because there’s not enough chlorine in the water to properly disinfect the grime.

Improperly treated swimming pools can leave you with all sorts of irritated body parts including your lungs, eyes and skin. On the other hand, a well-maintanined swimming pool will have no smell.

If you have a swimming pool or regularly visit one, the best way to avoid that pool smell is to have users shower before hopping in for a swim.