Hot tubs, according to new research, are exactly as gross as you've always been warned — and in fact may be even more horrifying than you would imagine.
In an explainer for The Conversation, microbiologist Primrose Freestone at the University of Leicester noted that while hot tubs have ample historic precedent and are known for their healing properties, our modern iterations are pretty disgusting.
"When we enter the waters of a Jacuzzi whatever we have on our skin we deposit into the warm water swirling around us," Freestone wrote. " This includes the 100mg or so of faeces that is usually present between our buttock cheeks. This means that while you’re relaxing in the warm water, you’ll likely breathe in or swallow your Jacuzzi partner’s body’s bacteria, viruses and fungi."
If that wasn't vomit-worthy enough, the British microbiologist added that this shitty effect — pun very much intended — increases with each additional person that enters the tub.
"The more people in the Jacuzzi, the higher the levels of faeces and sweat shed into the water (and urine if anyone has peed in the water)," she wrote. "And these bodily deposits can be used by the bacteria as direct nutrients."
While hot tub owners are encouraged to change the water every three months and treat it with "microbicides (which kill germs) such as chlorine, bromine, or other disinfectants to control bacterial numbers," those chemicals themselves also can be hugely irritating to the eyes and skin of soakers, which is why those who use them are advised to shower afterwards.
While private hot tubs are one thing, public or semi-public Jacuzzis, Freestone writes, "can potentially be very high in infection-causing bacteria (germs), particularly if water is recycled" because public facilities often fail to comply with personal hygiene and water treatment guidelines.
"Improperly maintained public Jacuzzis can lead to outbreaks of infections by human-associated bacteria which survive well in water," she continued, noting that everything from E.coli and the MRSA-causing Staphylococcus Aureus bacterias to Legionella pneumoniae, the germ behind Legionnaire's disease.
"Legionella bacteria are particularly found in the water droplets within the Jacuzzi steam," the microbiologist continued, "and inhaling the contaminated steam could lead to the development of life-threatening pneumonia."
The message is pretty clear: if you must soak, do so in a private hot tub — or risk literally contracting a disease.
More on gross stuff: Unfortunate Redditor Says They Had Diarrhea in a Sensory Deprivation Tank
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