Sticking to a regular hot tub maintenance schedule is key to keeping your hot tub clean and hygienic – as well as prolonging its lifespan.
Read on to discover the easiest way to maintain your hot tub, including a simple maintenance schedule every hot tub owner should stick to for the very best results.
The Dangers of Poor Hot Tub Maintenance ☣️
Firstly, slipping into your hot tub is a lot less luxurious if it isn’t kept clean. Fail to take care of your hot tub and it will lose its allure as a peaceful sanctuary.
Plus, untreated spa water is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If you slack on sanitising your hot tub’s water and you’ll quickly run into serious problems, from cloudy water and hot tub foam to algae blooms and white water mould. These can be a pain to fix, but they’re very easy to prevent if you just stick to a basic maintenance schedule.
Contaminants in dirty hot tub water will also build up in your spa’s filters, meaning your hot tub circulation pumps will have to work harder to pull the water through its filters. This added strain can seriously reduce the lifespan of your pumps, meaning you’ll have to go to the effort and expense of replacing them sooner.
What Do I Need to Maintain?
There are only a few things you need to maintain to make sure your hot tub is always in good working order.
Taking a few minutes each week to wipe and clean your hot tub’s shell will keep it looking new and presentable, as well as help prevent the buildup of bacteria.
Regularly circulating the water helps keep it free of contaminants by passing it through your hot tub’s cartridge filters.
Most modern hot tubs automatically circulate their water through their filters daily (usually 15-20 min daily cycles), helping keep the spa water clean and bacteria-free.
If you have an older hot tub without an automatic daily cycle, make sure to run it for fifteen minutes every day to make sure the water gets filtered and any contaminants get cleared.
Expert Tip: Consider tossing in a few tennis balls or scum absorbers into the water after you soak. The soft fibres will remove the impurities e.g., oils, creams, and soaps left from your body, greatly increasing the cleanliness of your hot tub water.
Hot Tub Water Chemistry
No matter how often you wipe your hot tub down and circulate its water, there’s no getting around the fact your wet, warm hot tub is the perfect place for bacteria and algae to flourish.
Luckily, controlling and preventing bacteria growth is as easy as keeping your spa topped up with enough sanitiser and hot tub chemicals.
When chlorine is added to water it creates hypochlorous acid, which kills bacteria. Once this hypochlorous acid has reacted with other elements, it deactivates and leaves behind chloramines, which create that distinctive chlorine smell.
You need to maintain your hot tub’s chlorine levels between 3 and 5mg/l (milligrams per litre). Any lower than this and the concentration won’t be strong enough to effectively kill bacteria. Any higher and it can damage your hot tub’s components and irritate your skin, eyes, and lungs.
Chlorine comes in the form of granules and tablets. Chlorine tablets are placed in a floating dispenser and dissolve gradually over time, while granules are added directly to the hot tub water every time you need to bring your chlorine levels up.
Just like chlorine, bromine dissolves in water and kills any bacteria that are present.
Bromine has a lower pH than chlorine, which means you need to add more each time you top it up –between 4 and 6mg/l (milligrams per litre).
However, it also acts more slowly, meaning you don’t need to top it up as often. Plus, it doesn’t create chloramines, which means it doesn’t create that swimming pool smell.
And because it’s a bit softer on the skin, bromine is a good option for people with sensitive skin.
However, it’s a bit more expensive and not as readily available as chlorine, which you’ll find in any reputable hot tub dealership across the country
No matter which form of sanitiser you opt for, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure it works as effectively as possible.
And never use chlorine and bromine at the same time, as this can cause a dangerous reaction. If you want to switch from one sanitiser to the other, drain and deep clean your hot tub, then use the new sanitiser in a fresh batch of hot tub water.
If your hot tub’s pH levels aren’t right, your sanitiser (chlorine or bromine) won’t work properly. In extreme cases, the water won’t be safe to use and can even erode the components of your hot tub, such as the pumps and piping.
A safe pH range for a hot tub is between 7.2 and 7.6. This is very slightly alkaline, which helps the chlorine and bromine work more effectively.
If your hot tub’s water falls below 7.2 on the pH scale it will be too acidic. It will corrode your spa’s components and irritate your skin and eyes.
A pH above 7.6 will make your water too alkaline, which can lead to cloudy water and scaling of the spa’s parts. It can also drastically reduce how effectively your sanitiser works, with chlorine just 20% effective at a pH level of 8.
Everything that goes into your hot tub’s water affects its pH level. Our skin actually has a pH of 5.5, meaning we actually lower the pH of a hot tub every time we take a dip.
So, check your hot tub’s pH level every day using test strips to make sure it’s always between 7.2 and 7.6. Simply add a pH increaser if it’s below this range, and a pH decreaser if it’s above it.
Hot Tub Shock Treatment
If you haven’t used your spa for a while, e.g., upon return from a holiday, it’s a good idea to fire up the hot tub jets and shock the water.
Shock treatment will eliminate and remove any chloramines, lingering bacteria, and organic compounds e.g., dead skin and oils, that are created when often due to frequent bather usage or a lack of hot tub usage.
We recommend using a non-chlorine shock product every 1-2 weeks to shock and oxidise your hot tub water and maintain your hot tub chemistry.
Water Draining & Changing
No matter how fastidiously you stick to your hot tub water care routine, your spa water will need emptying and refilling eventually.
That’s because your spa’s hot water absorbs minerals, chemicals, and contaminants that increase what’s known as the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). The more TDS in your hot tub’s water, the less effectively your hot tub’s sanitiser will work.
Keep your hot tub water clean and bacteria-free by replacing it with fresh waterevery three months – or more often if you use your hot tub more than four times a week.
Cleaning & Replacing the Hot Tub Filter Cartridges
Every time you use your spa, its filters do the heavy lifting of filtering out contaminants and keeping your water clean.
To keep them working as effectively as possible, you should:
Remove them and rinse them off with a garden hose every week.
Clean them with hot tub filter cleaner every month.
Soak them in chemical cleaner every time you change your hot tub’s water.
Replace them when the filtration material starts to disintegrate (usually between one and two years).
We also have a much more detailed hot tub filter cleaning guide with all the specifics that you can access here.
Hot Tub Care Schedule
Now you’ve got a handle on all the aspects of your hot tub that need maintaining, here’s a simple regular maintenance schedule that will help you stay on top of everything that needs looking after:
Hot Tub Maintenance for Every Day (that you use it):
Use a pH test strip to check your hot tub’s pH level is between 7.2 and 7.6. Add a pH increaser if it’s below this range and a pH decreaser if it’s above it.
If you use chlorine to sanitise your hot tub, use a chlorine test strip to check the chlorine level is between 3 and 5mg/l (milligrams per litre). If it’s below this, top it up.
If you use bromine to sanitise your hot tub, use a bromine test strip to check the bromine level is between 4 and 6mg/l (milligrams per litre). If it’s below this, top it up.
Hot Tub Maintenance Once a week:
Check the filters and give them a quick rinse them off with a hose if dirty.
Turn on all the hydrotherapy pumps, open any topside air controls, and ensure that any adjustable flow-control waterfalls or jets are turned on. If your hot tub is producing visible foam, add a touch of spa foam suppressant until the foam dissipates, then turn the air controls and waterfalls back off.
Check the water for clarity. If it’s cloudy, use a combination of fast-acting oxidisers and clarifiers to clear it.
If you’re in a hard water area, add a dose of anti-scale to your hot tub to prevent limescale from building up on your components.
Check for Total Alkalinity (TA). If TA is low, pH can easily fluctuate, making it difficult to control and maintain the ideal level for the rest of the week. Ideally, aim for a TA level of between 125 – 150mg/l – but a minimum of 80mg/l.
Clear any leaves, debris, and grit from the footwell by hand and from inside your hot tub with a skimmer net or spa vacuum.
Give the topside and waterline of your spa’s acrylic shell a quick wipe-down with a damp cloth and a spa surface cleaning solution.
Hot Tub Maintenance Every Month:
Remove your spa’s filters and thoroughly clean them with a hot tub filter cleaner.
Give the inside of your spa a deep clean with a damp cloth and a spa surface cleaner solution.
Hot Tub Maintenance Every three months:
‘Zap’ the water with a fast-acting plumbing cleaner to remove any residue or greasy body oils from the inside of the plumbing system, then drain your hot tub’s water.
Once empty, thoroughly clean the inside of your hot tub with a damp cloth and a spa surface cleaner solution.
Remove your hot tub’s filters and soak them in chemical cleaner, then rinse them off.
Remove your hot tub’s headrests and thoroughly clean them (and the acrylic area behind them) to remove any potential contaminants. Once dry, use a vinyl protectant such as 303 Protectant to help preserve their lifespan.
Start refilling your hot tub, then add some fast-acting chlorine granules or bromine granules to start the sanitisation process. Remember that you’re aiming for a Free Chlorine level of 2 – 5mg/l or a Total Bromine level of 3 – 6mg/l once the spa is refilled, so don’t go overboard at this stage with your chemical levels.
Once your spa is full, check and adjust pH to 7.2 – 7.6 and Total Alkalinity (TA) to 125 – 150mg/l.
If your hot tub cover is made of vinyl, wash it with warm soapy water, leave it to dry, then use 303 Protectant to protect it from UV damage and prolong its lifespan.
Hot tub maintenance every year:
Hire a specialist to conduct a full hot tub service to ensure it lasts as long as possible. This can usually be arranged by the dealership you bought your hot tub from, and is likely to set you back between £200 – £250.
Replace your hot tub filters.
General Hot Tub Safety Tips
Don’t set your hot tub’s temperature above 40℃.
This is likely to cause discomfort for users, as well as break down the chemical compounds in your hot tub’s water and make them ineffective.
Always read the labels of all hot tub chemicals e.g., chlorine granules, bromine tablets, shock treatments, etc.. and wear protective gloves and eyewear, especially in windy conditions.
Avoid using any electrical appliances or plugged-in devices near your hot tub.
Make sure you don’t handle any glass near your hot tub, there are plenty of cheap acrylic glass sets out there which are a million times safer.
Extra Hot Tub Maintenace Tips
Cleaning Your Spa Cover
Properly maintaining your hot tub cover is a fantastic way to keep your outdoor space looking brand new, help retain as much heat within your hot tub, and reduce the likelihood of needing a future replacement.
To clean your spa cover, gently use a soft brush or cloth to remove any dirt, debris, or leaves on your cover, and use warm soapy water combined with vinyl cleaner or another mild cleaning product for a deeper clean (avoid stronger cleaning products containing any oil, alcohol and detergent).
You can use a wet cloth to remove any residue left on the cover after cleaning, and be sure to dry the cover before reinstalling. Applying 303 Aerospace Protectant will also massively help protect your hot tub from UV damage, stains, and build-up of dirt, ensuring its longevity and performance.
Hot tubs can require a substantial amount of maintenance over the course of a year when you take quarterly water changes and the deep cleaning into account, but looking after your spa water after a bit of practice should realistically take you no longer than five minutes a day.
When you clean a hot tub and it’s hot tub filters this will of course take a little longer, but realistically, your regular hot tub maintenance routine should take you no longer than 30 minutes to an hour a month.
How much does spa maintenance cost on average?
If you enjoy soaking in your hot tub all year round, you can expect to spend anywhere from around £200 to £350 on spa chemicals per year. These figures are of course dependant on factors such as the type and brand of hot tub you own and how often the you use your hot tub weekly.
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I am the Content Writer and Marketing Officer at WhatSpa? Magazine. I have worked at WhatSpa? for over 8 years, and I recently graduated with Distinction from Northumbria University with a Master's degree in Occupational and Organizational Psychology.
My role at WhatSpa? is to ensure that all hot tub lovers can easily access the highest quality and most up-to-date content, news and information from within the UK wet leisure industry.