Knowing how to clean and maintain a hot tub is going to be an essential part of the process of owning one. Hot tubs are extremely susceptive to damage from continuous use, especially if your water’s properties aren’t good enough for the materials used in the hot tub. People also tend to leave contaminants behind them when soaking in the hot water which furthers the potential damage to the spa. To avoid all that, regular cleaning and maintenance check-ups are required and in this article, we will go over the process of cleaning the hot tub, as well as a few other important topics.

If you want to check out some of the best inflatable hot tubs currently on the market, click here! Now, let’s first start with the cleaning process, and then we will get into the various things you can do to maintain the hot tub clean and healthy…

The Three-Step Process To A Clean Hot Tub

This process is fairly simple and involves three parts (which are sometimes referred to as the “Three C’s”). Those are cleaning, circulation, and chemistry!

Cleaning

No matter your hot tub type, it will definitely start building up scum after a few weeks or months of continuous usage. Outdoor models tend to be much more susceptible to that since they may have debris flying into them. The main focus points of your cleaning should be the seats and waterline. While some parts can be cleaned with a full hot tub, cleaning your spa should be primarily done when its emptied out.

When it is full of water, you can only clean above the waterline and the outer shell. Cleaning that weekly with a mix of warm water and white vinegar does the job wonderfully! Despite all that, make sure that you give your hot tub a top-to-bottom clean as often as you can. You also shouldn’t ignore the tub cover which can be easily cleaned with a bleach and water mix.

Water filters should also be a part of the cleaning process since they are prone to a build-up of various contaminants and minerals. Rinsing them with hot water should be enough for your weekly clean-ups but even now and then you can use a filter cleaner to spray them. That should give them a deeper level of cleaning. If that isn’t by your taste, you can soak them in any type of jet or filter chemical cleaner. That should be done when you drain the tub and you should always rinse them after the process.

Water circulation

Flowing water will almost never get contaminated, at least not as quick as it would if you don’t circulate it. This is why you should circulate your hot tub’s water as often as you can, as that will make it go through the tub’s filters which will ensure that it stays in tip-top conditions.

Some tubs have automatic functions that can be set up to circulate the water at certain intervals. If you have one of these, set it to circulate 3-5 times a week or simply set it to circulate every day if you use the tub daily. Those programs typically take up to 30 minutes.

To further improve the water quality and help the tub’s filters, you can also use oil-collector sponges. They are great at soaking in all the oils that are floating in your water be it from humans or from things you used inside the tub. Tennis balls also do a great job at that!

The third part is to maintain proper chemistry levels of your hot tub. Let’s talk about that now…

Understanding and Controlling Your Hot Tub’s Chemistry

Testing hot tub

Just like with pools, hot tubs require constant care for their water quality. Having clean and fresh water in your tub will ensure that the other elements will be easier to maintain and will also take more time to reach their cleaning points.

There are a few key terms and aspects that you need to learn when it comes to your hot tub’s water chemistry. Those are pH, alkalinity, sanitizer use, shocking, and testing all of that properly.

pH Levels

The pH of your hot tub’s water is basically telling you whether the water is too acidic or too alkaline. Ideally, you should aim for a pH of around 7.5 which is more or less neutral. If your water is below that, it means that the tub is too acidic which might degrade the tub’s parts and can even cause skin irritations. Contrary to that, values above 7.5 mean that your water is too alkaline (or basic) which can make it look cloudy and will reduce most of the sanitizers’ effectiveness.

Alkalinity

How alkaline the water is can be individually tested and is very important since this greatly affects how well your sanitizers will work. Different tests have different referent values but most commonly alkalinity is measured in ppm (parts per million). Aim for having it around 130-150ppm.

Sanitizers

With sanitizers, there isn’t much to discuss since there are virtually hundreds of brands and models out there. What is important, however, is to consistently check the alkalinity and pH levels when using a new sanitizer that you aren’t used to.

Shocking your hot tub

You might hear that term among spa enthusiasts and it really is important and helpful to your water’s quality. The spa shock consists of very large doses of oxidizer that rapidly cleans the water out of most contaminants. The shocking process itself works on three fronts:

  • It kills bacteria like p. dermatitis, legionella, non-tuberculous mycobacteria, and others
  • It removes organic contaminants such as dead skin cells, lotions, shampoos, makeup, etc
  • It removes bromines and chloramines which are the waste products of bromine and chlorine

Testing!

The key to the whole process is to continuously test your hot tub in case some of the metrics go off. For that reason, there are hot tub test strips that are for sale and can check for every aspect of your tub’s chemistry at once. Here are a few products that will help you manage everything:

Hot Tub Maintenance Tips

To get the most of your hot tub’s health benefits, you will need to repeat the cleaning processes at certain intervals. Some of the best hot tub maintaining tips I have for you were already mentioned above but it is good to have it all in once place and memorize it:

  • Make a schedule for all of the things that you need to take care of on a daily/weekly/monthly basis
  • Test your water regularly for all of the chemical aspects we discussed
  • Turn off your air valves when heating your water or when you’re adding chemicals
  • You can use white vinegar to clean your hot tub’s jets if you have no cleaning solution left
  • Use the off-peak hours to run the tub
  • Don’t forget to clean your hot tub cover. Water and a little bleach works perfectly
  • If you don’t have special oil-attracting sponges, you can use tennis balls
  • Use timers when filling and refilling the hot tub to avoid potential leakage disasters
  • Clean the cartridges using special spray cleaners
  • Stock up on all of the supplies you need for regular maintenance (new filters, pH increasers/decreasers, and others)
  • Keep the hot tub covered when not in use to avoid any dust, dirt, or other contaminants falling in it
  • Don’t shy away from draining and refilling your hot tub if you aren’t sure of the water quality

Making a schedule

With maintenance, consistency is key! This is why you should keep a regular check on all of the aspects of your hot tub. One of the easiest ways to track your maintenance routines is by using apps. You can also use a dedicated calendar for your hot tub or even a whiteboard. Still, apps are by far the easiest way since you can sync them across multiple devices and some high-tech hot tubs can even sync to the app, allowing reminders to work from both the tub and the device you’re using for the schedule.

In terms of what needs to be done when, there are daily, weekly, monthly, and other procedures that are done at certain intervals. Of course, all of that heavily depends on how much you use the hot tub and how often you fill and refill it. Still, let’s take a look at the general maintenance intervals for certain tasks:

  • Daily maintenance – Some of the most important daily maintenance steps you have to go through are to check if the cover is clean and secured in its place, check for any water temperature changes, and check for potential damage to the hot tub itself. Water temperature changes tend to happen when something goes wrong with your heating system, while potential damages can happen due to the large volume of water staying inside all the time.
  • Weekly maintenance – The things you need to do weekly are mainly connected to the water’s chemistry. Make it a habit to check the water properties on a certain day fo the week (for example Friday before you head into the weekend). Check the alkalinity, the pH, and the chlorine and bromine levels. Also, make sure you clean the area right above the waterline which might get contaminated from some of the chemicals.
  • Monthly maintenance – What should be part of your monthly maintenance routine is the chemical shock or rinse and cleaning your jets. If you use the spa very often, it might be a good idea to give it a complete cleaning from top to bottom every month in the summer season.
  • Seasonal maintenance – What should be done every 3-4 months is cleaning the filters (or changing them), clean the outside of the hot tub, and repair potential damages that you’ve observed during the past few months.
  • Yearly maintenance – System flushes are ideally done once a year as they will clean out the biofilm of your hot tub. Inspect everything about the hot tub, including its hardware and make sure that

If you also have a sauna and want to clean and maintain it properly, I suggest checking out my full article on that topic!

Final Words

Owning a hot tub is an amazing addition to any household in many ways. There are numerous health benefits associated with spas and what better way to enjoy them than with your family inside the tub with you. Still, knowing how to clean and maintain a hot tub isn’t an easy task. It includes a thorough cleaning process as well as constant maintenance and checking of the water quality and the hot tub’s structural integrity.