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A Rundown on Hot Tub Cleaning

Hot tub maintenance basics:

  1. Keep the water balanced: Regularly test and balance the alkalinity, pH, and chlorine levels of the water to keep it clean and safe to use.
  2. Clean the filters: Hot tub filters should be cleaned every few weeks to remove debris and bacteria. 
  3. Shock the water: Shock the water once a week with a specialized hot tub shock product to kill any bacteria and algae that may have accumulated.

  4. Drain and refill the water: It is recommended to drain and refill the hot tub water every 3-4 months to keep it fresh and clean.

  5. Clean the hot tub cover: Use a hot tub cover cleaner and protectant to keep the cover in good condition and prevent water from seeping through.

  6. Check the water level: Keep the water level at the correct level to ensure proper circulation and to prevent damage to the hot tub pump.

  7. Check the hot tub plumbing: Inspect the hot tub's plumbing regularly to make sure there are no leaks or other issues.

  8. Check and replace the gaskets: Gaskets can wear out over time, causing leaks. Regularly check and replace them as needed.

  9. Clean the jets: Use a jet cleaner to remove any build-up or clogs in the jets. 

  10. Follow the manufacturer's instructions: Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper hot tub maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Spa cleaning breakdown:

Whether you own a swimming pool or hot tub, or both, there is little you can do to underscore the hours of countless enjoyment both you and your guests can gain from it. You can make your pool or spa the absolute focal point of your outdoor leisure and entertaining. After all, there is such a thing as a pool party.

Your pool or hot tub can be your quiet retreat away from the hustle and bustle of business that goes on indoors, a way for you to get away from it all without ever really having to get away from it all. Warm summer afternoons and muggy, sultry evenings all benefit from the good company of a crystal clear, sparkling spa or pool.

Yet as enjoyable as the comforts of a hot tub can be, as a spa owner you are probably very familiar with the amount of legwork and elbow grease they can exact from you. It’s not all fun and games, and in truth, for every hour you spend enjoying the warming, invigorating caresses of your spa’s jets and water, you may have spent two or three on maintenance. On top of that, this knowledge is not intuitive, so you may have spent hours researching how to be a responsible spa owner in the first place.

At the very least, we’re here to help with that. Here at Hot Tub Club we have many years of experience dealing with all different sorts of customer concerns and conditions and we’re here to put that experience to work for you. When it comes to owning and maintaining a hot tub, there is quite a lot to keep in mind, and in this article we’re going to give you a quick rundown on what it means to keep your hot tub clean and clear.

Routine Hot Tub Maintenance 

The first thing you will need to keep in mind is that, while there is no ‘trick’ to keeping your water clear and comfortable, routine spa maintenance is your first line of defense. Engaging in routine maintenance practices will go a very long way towards preserving your hot tub (or pool) and can make your life a lot easier. Plus, it will help prevent you from developing a backlog of cleaning that you need to perform.

The first element of routine maintenance is the use of shock, both before you open the hot tub and then periodically thereafter. Shocking a hot tub at opening is essentially a standard measure in which most spa owners partake and for good reason.

In essence, before you open your hot tub you want to spike the levels of sanitizer in the water so that you can eradicate as many biological contaminants as possible before any bathers enter the water. You don’t want to be introducing swimmers to unsanitary water in the first place, and on top of that, the swimmers themselves will introduce some contaminants into the water as well. Shocking the water can help to prepare for, and deal with, this situation.

On top of shocking the water before opening the spa, it’s a good idea to periodically shock the water every so often afterward anyway, even if you maintain the water at the proper level of 1 to 3 ppm of free chlorine (if that’s what you use). Periodic shocking will help to prevent a nasty situation that we will talk about a bit later in this article.

In addition to periodically shocking your water, you should get in the habit of shocking your hot tub after you have had a lot of people in it, after a heavy rain, or after the water has been left uncovered and baking in the sun for any appreciable amount of time.

In the first place, having a lot of swimmers in the water will introduce all sorts of foulness into the water which we will talk about subsequently. Shocking will help the water cope with some of these. As far as the other two situations, after a heavy rain the runoff that enters your spa water is more than likely to be loaded with dirt, bacteria and other unpleasantries that can make the water unsanitary in short order. As far as exposure to sunlight, chlorine is particularly unstable in the face of ultraviolet radiation, and the free chlorine in water will drop off dramatically after exposure to sunlight. Shock your water after these conditions apply.

In addition to periodic shocking, you will of course have to maintain the level of sanitizer in the hot tub, whether you use bromine or chlorine. If you use chlorine as your sanitizer, you should maintain the levels of chlorine in the water between 1 and 3 parts per million. If you use bromine, you should maintain a level between 3 and 5 parts per million at all times. There may be some situations in which it is acceptable to diverge from this rule of thumb, so feel free to call us for more information. In addition, you can find other articles within our blog that are relevant to the use of these sanitizers as well as the relative benefits of each of them.

Fight Back against Biofilm


We mentioned slightly earlier in this article that periodic shocking can be instrumental in preventing a particularly nasty situation that we would get to, and here we are. Hang on tight, because this is unpleasant, but it can potentially be avoided with the right treatment and cleaning.

Most bacteria and other contaminants live freely in the water or other substances or substrates which they inhabit. When they are free floating or even itinerant in the water, it is easy for them to be oxidized or otherwise killed or destroyed by the shock or sanitizer in your spa water.

That is good news for you. Very good news, because it means that all you need to do is keep the levels of sanitizer in your water in the acceptable range and you will never have to deal with anything more laborious than a periodic shocking.

In a perfect world, that is, and a perfect world it is not. While that is good for you, it is terrible for the microorganisms that live in the water, and life is wily. To quote the famous-if-fictitious Dr. Ian Malcom, “life will find a way.”

For the reason that microorganisms are susceptible to eradication when they live singly as opposed to aggregately, many species have devised a way to unite and conquer. Or unite and survive, as the case may be.

Many species of bacteria (and other microorganisms that inhabit water naturally) will join together and live in static communities which we call biofilm. Have you ever felt the slimy surface of a rock in a river or by a bay? That’s biofilm, and the same thing can happen in your pool or hot tub.

When microorganisms join together and form a biofilm, they produce extracellular polymeric substances that join the colony together, allow for intercellular communication, and, most importantly, protect them from external attacks. We wouldn’t take the time to tell you all of this (seemingly) unnecessary details if it weren’t for the last fact.

The unfortunate truth is that when microorganisms form a biofilm, sanitizers and shock are largely ineffective at unseating and killing them. The extracellular matrix we talked about largely protects the community living within it from the outside influences of sanitizer and other substances aimed at them.

Luckily, there is a way around this, and there is a way to treat the water. With special hot tub cleaner and deep cleaning practices, you can help to eliminate this biofilm and keep your hot tub or pool clean and clear.

Good Practices, Draining and Deep Cleaning

In the first place, you can defend against the aggregation of biofilm with routine maintenance and shocking, but once a biofilm forms you will need to take more aggressive action to unseat it. You can start by using a pool brush to clean off the walls and the floor of the hot tub and removing the biofilm where it will be picked up by the filter (and may even be destroyed by the sanitizer in the water).

However, more than likely it would be a better practice to drain the hot tub and flush the lines and filter to do a more thorough cleaning of the entire system to restore the pristine clarity of the water.

There are no hard or fast rules about this, but it is a good idea to drain the water from your spa and refill it periodically, regardless of whether or not it seems like it needs to be drained. That being said, any time a biofilm accumulates, the water smells or becomes cloudy and is not responsive to less aggressive treatments, you should take the time to drain your hot tub and clean the hot tub filter.

When you have drained the water from your hot tub, you can take the time to clean the filter, which will go a long way in keeping the hot tub clean in the future. Over time and through countless gallons of filtration, the filter will slowly clog and deteriorate. If your filter needs to be replaced, replace it. Otherwise, you can use some of the hot tub cleaner specially designed for hot tub filters that you can find right here on our site.

Products like our Spa Filter Cleaner are especially formulated to restore the condition of your hot tub filter. It is designed to remove scale, metals, oils and dirt from your filter and help it return to a more operable condition. Its pH is 1.0, so it is particularly adept as dissolved scale. If scale is causing any filter based inefficiency, this cleaner can be instrumental in resolving that issue.

For swimming pool and spa walls, we sell BioGuard Off The Wall Surface Cleaner, which is designed to provide an in depth level of cleaning for the walls and surfaces of pools and hot tubs, much as the filter cleaner above is specifically designed to clean filters. This cleaner has a very low pH and can remove tough buildup including scale from the walls of your pool or spa. That being said, it is non abrasive and it is compatible with all sanitation systems and all pool and hot tub surfaces. When you drain your hot tub, you can give it the one-two punch of the filter and surface cleaner to help remove those contaminants before they can get back in the water.

Remember that even with the use of these cleaning products, it is important to follow other protocols when you drain and refill your hot tub. When refilling your hot tub, remember to shock the water before opening it again, and ensure that you balance the pH of the new water, bring the sanitizers back to the proper level and treat it accordingly.

If you’re looking for a hot tub cleaner like the ones we have presented here or want to see our full catalog of pool and spa cleaning products, you can find them right here on our site. In addition to our cleaning products, we offer many other specialty products for dealing with algae, balancing pH, keeping water clear and many, many other essential chemicals for pool and hot tubs, including chlorine and bromine sanitizer.

We also have years of experience to pair with our diverse catalog of cleaning products and other pool and hot tub chemicals, so if you need a little bit of direction, don’t be shy about reaching out to us for help. We’ve seen a little bit of everything throughout the years and customer service is one of our top priorities. After all, you can’t take care of a pool or hot tub if you don’t know the procedures to follow. 

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