Chlorine in Washington, DC's water

March 20, 2015


Chlorine Time for DC's Water

According to PoPville, Washington, DC's water will be chlorinated from March 23 to May 4th.  

Isn't Washington, DC's water always chlorinated?

No.  Washington, DC's water is normally treated with chloramine not chlorine.  This is noteworthy because residents in DC will be exposed to a completely different chemical than what is normally present in household water.  That different chemical, chlorine, is more reactive than chloramine.  Residents will almost certainly notice the difference.

Change from Chloramine to Chlorine

Normally, Washington, DC's water is disinfected with chloramine rather than chlorine.  According to DC Water, "The annual switch in water disinfection is part of a routine program to clean and maintain drinking water systems in the District of Columbia, Arlington County and the northeastern portion of Fairfax County. During the temporary switch to chlorine, local water authorities will also conduct system-wide flushing to enhance water quality. This program is a common practice for many U.S. water systems that use chloramine during the majority of the year."


Chemically speaking, chlorine dissolves in water as HOCl, which is technically called hypochlorous acid. Whatever you call it, chlorine is more reactive than chloramine.  

What DC Residents Should Expect from the Chlorine Switch.

Chlorine smell after Showering in Washington DCBecause chlorine is more reactive than chloramine, Washington DC residents may expect that their shower and bath water irritates hair and skin more than before.  They may also notice that they "smell like chlorine" after showering because the chlorine in the water can react with hair and skin on the timescale of the shower.  This creates a layer of lingering chlorine, which the person can detect by smell.  Swimmers call this the "lick test."  Lick your arm and sniff it.  Does it smell like chlorine?  If so, you still have chlorine on you.

This phenomena results from using a disinfectant that is more reactive towards nitrogen-containing molecules.  The chlorine rapidly bonds to the amino groups present in the proteins that make up a person's hair and skin.

What is SwimSpray writing about DC's Drinking Water?

SwimSpray is rapidly becoming the world's expert in chlorine-related side-effects.  We have studied how chlorinated swimming pools and hot tubs can have detrimental effects on human hair and skin.  We have spent years figuring out how to solve those chlorine problems.  In the case of DC's drinking water, the problem is almost exactly the same.  Our hope is that people might adopt the very simple solution.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix to chlorine-related side effects.  For DC residents plagued with chlorine problems, they can use the same technique for managing chlorine side-effects that is trusted by regular swimmers: Rinse with concentrated, pH balanced vitamin C just before finishing the shower.  For those who prefer the bath, simply spray 20-30 sprays of SwimSpray into the bath water before bathing.

Questions?  Just let us know by emailing

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