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Hot tub maintenance is an essential part of safe spa care. Since the water in your spa is warmer than in pools, it’s harder for water sanitizer levels to remain properly balanced.

Make sure you clean your hot tub filter and spa cover and regularly balance your hot tub water. Keep the water clean and prevent mold and algae from growing on your spa cover and headrests to keep your hot tub clean and clear all year.

Keep reading if you want to know everything you need to keep your hot tub safe and balanced.

What Are the Keys to Proper Hot Tub Maintenance? 

The critical component of proper hot tub maintenance is to keep a regular cleaning and testing schedule. Like maintaining a swimming pool, your hot tub needs to have balanced pH and alkaline levels to keep good water quality.

Proper hot tub care includes the following weekly maintenance tasks:

  • Washing the hot tub walls
  • Cleaning out any debris
  • Regularly running your hot tub filter to maintain adequate water circulation
  • Cleaning your hot tub filter
  • Adding chemical sanitizer
  • Periodically shocking the hot tub water

A proper hot tub maintenance schedule includes weekly cleaning and water quality testing. As long as the water chemistry is balanced and hot tubs are debris-free, you’re more than halfway towards a clean hot tub.

Occasionally, you’ll need to drain or shock your hot tub water to rebalance the water. Rebalancing your water is especially necessary if you use your hot tub often or if you’ve left your hot tub sitting unattended for a while. We will go over the details of properly draining and shocking your hot tub in a later section.

How Often Should You Clean Your Hot Tub? 

You should clean your hot tub every week to keep the water quality high and free from contaminants. To clean your hot tub, wipe down and clean the walls, floor, steps, headrests, water jets, and spa cover.

You can use a pool or spa brush to clean the deeper areas of your hot tub and the steps. To clean the walls, use a kitchen or pool sponge to carefully wipe down and remove algae or chemical buildup. Use a chlorine tablet to remove calcium hardness along the water line if you need extra chemical assistance.

Check the water jets and give them a quick wipe-down with your sponge. This should remove any chemicals, calcium hardness, or algae that cling to the jets.

Last, use a bleach or chlorine solution to wash your headrests and hot tub cover. Try your best to avoid getting any bleach in your hot tub’s water, but otherwise, it’s perfectly safe to use bleach to wash these areas since they’re not under the water line.

Bleach is one of the best options for cleaning chemicals to sanitize these areas. Bleach is a potent chemical for killing off algae, mold, and fungal spores that cling to these surfaces. Be especially careful to clean away any dirt or sand that attaches to the corners of these surfaces since they’re critical areas for mold and algae to cling and spread.

How Do You Clean Your Hot Tub Filter? 

Hot tubs usually have a strainer filter cartridge that can easily be removed from the holder. To clean your hot tub filter, start by locating the filter cover. This is typically on the ledge of your hot tub or in a compartment along the outside of the hot tub.

Open the compartment lid and unscrew the filter cartridge. Read your user’s manual before removing anything from the filter system to ensure you follow the proper directions to care for the system.

Most filtration systems in hot tubs are easy to clean with chlorine or bleach. Once a week, remove the filter and spray the filter gently with a garden hose to loosen any clinging debris, mold, chemicals, or algae.

Once or twice a month, soak the filter in a chemical soak to thoroughly clean any lingering germs or bacteria. This is fairly simple and involves adding a chemical solution to a tub of water large enough to submerge the filter cartridge fully. After a few hours of soaking, remove the filter and spray it with a garden hose and return it to the filter system.

Is it Important to Use a Hot Tub Cover?

A hot tub cover is very important to the safety and longevity of your hot tub’s lifespan. Unlike when maintaining your swimming pool, where covers are optional, covers make hot tub maintenance significantly easier and more efficient by preventing debris from getting into the water.

Use your hot tub cover at all times when not using it. This will not only protect the hot tub water chemistry but will make maintenance much easier. A cover will also prevent the sun’s UV rays from penetrating the water and disrupting your chlorine or bromine levels.

Keep your hot tub covered during the day unless you’re using it. Regularly clean your cover to ensure the fibers are damaged by decaying leaves or dirt. Use a vinyl protection spray to extend the lifespan of your cover and prevent cracks in the fibers because of sun damage and becoming dry rot.

How To Balance Your Spa’s pH and Water Chemistry? 

Your hot tub or spa needs a regular maintenance schedule to keep it clean, but don’t forget to check the water chemistry every week! Just like with a swimming pool, your hot tub needs to have the proper range of pH and alkalinity to prevent damage to the systems and keep the water safe and clean.

If your hot tub has high alkalinity, it can impede how well the water sanitizer removes contaminants. Hot tub care includes keeping the hot tub’s chemical levels balanced and at a neutral level. The ideal pH and alkaline levels are 7.4-7.6 or a neutral acidity level.

If your hot tub has high alkalinity, you need to add more acidic compounds to the water until you achieve a balanced pH level. Adding muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate is the most potent chemical for lowering the pH and alkalinity of your hot tub.

Most manufacturers recommend diluting these acids before adding them to your pool or hot tub. Diluting these chemicals is the best way to guarantee you add the right amount and don’t add too much acid to your water.

If your water pH is too low or acidic, you need to add a base compound of pH increaser. There are hot tub chemicals designed to increase the pH balance of the water. However, you can also add a little baking soda to increase the water’s alkalinity and pH.

Should You Use Bromine or Chlorine in Hot Tubs? 

Chlorine and bromine are both fine hot tub chemicals. However, most pool and spa experts recommend using bromine since it’s more stable and lasts longer in your hot tub.

Bromine is an intermediate chemical compound between chlorine and iodine. It’s an ionizer that’s effective at lifting contaminants out of the water and is less susceptible to heat and UV rays.

Chlorine dissolves pretty quickly in direct sunlight and breaks down especially fast in warm or hot water. This is why pool owners need to add extra stabilizers to their water or utilize stabilized chlorine in their pool water.

While bromine is not UV ray resistant, it lasts much longer in hot weather and water.

Bromine is resistant to heat, which is why it’s the first choice for spa and hot tub owners. Using chlorine in your hot tub is ineffective and expensive since you’ll have to constantly add more chemicals to balance the hot tub’s chemical levels.

Conclusion

Hot tub maintenance is not that different from maintaining a swimming pool. As you’ve seen, though, there are some important distinctions that you’ll have to understand before getting a hot tub.

A hot tub needs different kinds of chemicals to keep the hot tub water safe and clean. You need to invest in a hot tub cover to keep your hot tub clear of debris and prevent the bromine and water from evaporating.

Hot tub maintenance doesn’t have to be hard as long as you stick to a proper routine. Constant upkeep prevents bacteria and harmful parasites from developing in the hot tub water. Bromine is the key to a healthy, safe hot tub environment, and if you want to learn more about it, check out our article on the differences between bromine and chlorine!

FAQS

Can You Use Vinegar in a Hot Tub? 

Yes, you can and should use vinegar to clean your hot tub. Vinegar is an effective disinfectant and is a good tool for cleaning mold and algae from the hot tub cover, headrests, and other parts.

Vinegar is also a great tool to keep your hot tub water jets clean and free from algae and mineral buildup.

What Should You Use to Lower Your Hot Tub’s Alkalinity? 

Sodium bisulfate is a powerful compound to help rebalance the alkalinity of your hot tub. You can also buy a pH reducer or add an acidic substance to bring the overall alkalinity and pH.

What Should You Use to Raise Your Hot Tub’s Alkalinity?

Baking soda is one of the best compounds for raising the alkalinity and pH of both a hot tub and a pool. While you can use a pH increaser as well, most of the time, simply adding baking soda to your hot tub water is sufficient to raise these levels.

What Kind of Shock Treatment Can You Use in Your Hot Tub?

You should use a chlorine-free shock treatment in your hot tub. This is because chlorine doesn’t resist hot water the way bromine does, so a chlorine-based shock won’t sanitize your hot tub effectively.

How to Balance the Water in Your Hot Tub and Keep it Level?

Consistently testing your hot tub with test strips or water test kits is the best way to keep your hot tub balanced. You want to avoid allowing your hot tub water chemistry to become off balance and getting algae or mold growth.

The sooner you catch a low or high pH balance, the quicker you can fix it and prevent any major issues with your hot tub. Keep test strips or water test kits stocked so you never have to guess, and add bromine regularly to ensure proper hot tub maintenance.

How Often Should You Drain Your Hot Tub?

You should drain your hot tub at least once a year. Since hot tubs have higher water temperatures in smaller areas than pools, it’s more prone to over-contamination. You can use tennis balls to gather up body oils and soap in the water, but this isn’t enough if you use your hot tub all the time.

Draining your hot tub allows these oils and bodily fluids to be flushed out and replaced with clean water. If you notice your hot tub looks or smells bad and no amount of chemicals is fixing the issue, you may need to drain your hot tub more than once per year.