Facebook

How to Clean a Hot Tub and Pipes

Updated
Don’t let your hot tub gross you out instead of chilling you out. 

No matter how spa-like you want your hot tub experience after a long day at work, or a staycation, that’s not always the case. These tubs can get really dirty for a variety of reasons, like hard water deposits or dirt. But what’s even more serious is the gunk that comes from the jets into the water.

We’ll show you the best ways to clean a hot tub using a variety of household and store-bought products. Then, we’ll answer some other burning questions that will help you get your tab back to pristine condition.

How to Clean a Hot Tub With Distilled White Vinegar

  1. Fill the tub with water two inches above the highest jets.
  2. Turn off the air induction valves.
  3. Add ½ cup of distilled white vinegar.
  4. Run the jets at the highest capacity until there’s no gunk coming out.
  5. Drain the tub and refill with cold water.
  6. Run the jets for 10 minutes again.
  7. Drain the tub and wipe it clean.


Are Jetted Tubs Sanitary?

You’re probably wondering, are jetted tubs even sanitary in the first place? This depends on the brand you choose. Many brands have a self-cleaning or special technology to ensure the tub is sanitary. For example, they might have a water purification system in place to help keep the jets sanitary.

Still, if you don’t keep your tub clean, there’s a good chance that it will be home to some nasty — and potentially dangerous — bacteria (1). The main reason for this is the lining of the pipes in which water is trapped for long periods of time. When the jets are switched on, the bacteria in the pipes are pushed into the tub.

Not only is this rather gross, but it can also lead to a range of diseases such as UTIs, septicaemia, pneumonia, and various skin infections.

So as well as cleaning your tub, we recommend cleaning out your pipes frequently. All of our methods tackle both the tub and the pipes.

How Often Should You Clean a Hot Tub?

It depends on how often you use it but we recommend at least every five uses. Of course, you should be cleaning the surface and interior of the tub once a week as you routinely clean your bathroom.

How to Clean a Hot Tub

Let’s look at some of the most effective ways to clean your hot tub so you can avoid the nasty bacteria and dirt!

Top Tip

Always refer to the manufacturer’s manual before reading these tips in case they advise against any steps or products in our method.

Distilled White Vinegar

White vinegar on the wooden table top

You can use distilled white vinegar to deep clean your hot tub. The acidic properties of distilled white vinegar will help to deep clean the tub.

  1. Fill the tub so the water is about two inches above the highest jets.
  2. Turn off the air induction valves by turning them fully clockwise. This prevents the water from circulating anywhere but the tub’s internal plumbing. That way, you can concentrate the water to do the deepest clean.
  3. Pour ½ cup of distilled white vinegar into the bath water.
  4. Run the jets at the highest capacity for 15 minutes. You’ll see dirt and debris coming into the water.
  5. If after 15 minutes, there is still gunk coming out of the jets, keep the jets on until stuff stops coming out.
  6. Drain the tub and refill with cold water at least two inches above the jets again.
  7. Run the jets on the highest setting for 10 minutes again for a final rinse.
  8. Drain the tub and wipe it clean.

Bleach

Woman holding a bottle of laundry softener

If your hot tub is showing signs of mold, then you should use bleach. For example, this can show up on the outside of the jets, or black particles can come out of the jets when you turn them on. This method is very similar to the above method.

  1. Wear protective gloves and eyewear since bleach is a harsh chemical.
  2. Fill the tub so the water is about two inches above the highest jets.
  3. Turn off the air induction valves by turning them fully clockwise.
  4. Pour ½ cup of bleach into the bath water.
  5. Open the windows for good ventilation.
  6. Run the jets at the highest capacity for 15 minutes or until dirt and debris stops coming from the jets.
  7. Drain the tub and refill with cold water at least two inches above the jets again.
  8. Run the jets on the highest setting for 10 minutes again for a final rinse.
  9. Drain the tub and wipe it clean.

Watch Out

Some manufacturers don’t recommend bleach as it can dry out parts of the tub, so read the guidelines first.

Dish Soap and Baking Soda

Another household product you can use to deep clean your tub is dish soap.

  1. Fill the tub so the water is about two inches above the highest jets.
  2. Turn off the air induction valves by turning them fully clockwise.
  3. Add two tablespoons of liquid dish soap or four tablespoons of powder dish soap to the bath water.
  4. Run the jets at the highest capacity for around 15 minutes or until no more dirt and debris comes from the jets.
  5. Drain the tub.
  6. Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda into the tub. Let it sit for a couple of minutes.
  7. Use a dampened cloth to scrub the tub down, loosening any grime and residue.
  8. Gently scrub the faucet and drain with the dampened baking soda cloth.
  9. Refill the tub with cold water at least two inches above the jets again.
  10. Run the jets on the highest setting for 10 minutes again.
  11. Drain the tub and wipe it clean.

Biofilm Remover

Product Image of the Oh Yuk Jetted Tub Cleaner for Jacuzzis, Bathtubs, Whirlpools, The Most Effective Jetted Tub Cleaner, Septic Safe, 32 Cleanings per Bottle - 1 Gallon

A biofilm remover is a specific product designed to deep clean the pipes and plumbing of a hot tub. It’s named because of biofilm, the buildup of bacteria, mold, mildew, and other gunk.

  1. Fill the tub with water at least two inches above the highest jets.
  2. Turn off the air induction valves unless the manufacturer states otherwise.
  3. According to the packaging instructions, add the advised amount of biofilm remover to the water.
  4. Turn the jets onto the highest power for 30 minutes.
  5. Let the water sit for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn the jets on for 30 minutes again.
  7. Drain the tub.
  8. Sprinkle baking soda generously over the tub.
  9. Use a damp cloth to scrub the tub’s interior. Use a toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies around the jets.
  10. Refill the tub with cold water and run the jets for 15 minutes.
  11. Drain the tub.
  12. Wipe one more time with a damp cloth.

How Do I Get Rid Of Black Mold in My Hot Tub?

There are many hot tub cleaners that can help remove mold. Biofilm is one option, as well as something like Oh Yuk. If the manufacturer allows, try bleach. Distilled white vinegar is also a viable option since it can kill up to 82 percent of mold (2).

In combination with your cleaning solution of choice, be sure to use a toothbrush to clean the jets themselves.

When in doubt, contact a professional plumber to help out. They may need to replace the pipes.


Rinse and Relax

Now that you know how to clean your hot tub properly, you can rinse it down and relax fully. No more black gunk or nasty bacteria seeping its way into your bath water and ruining your self-care time.

You can use distilled white vinegar, bleach, dish soap, biofilm remover, or another hot tub cleaner. Whatever you choose, your tub should be sparkling clean once again.

Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!