Hot tubs, also known as jacuzzis and whirlpools, are great places to relax and unwind. But maintaining your spa requires a routine that keeps the water clean, healthy, and safe for bathers.

Regularly cleaning your spa or using spa maintenance services will prevent odors and build-up of metals, minerals, oils, and lotions that can cause skin irritation. It will also reduce the need for frequent shock and help your sanitizer levels stay within range.

Check the Water

The purer the water in your spa, the less work it takes to maintain it. Minerals like iron consume chemical resources necessary to balance your hot tub water and can render chemicals like sanitizer ineffective. A simple way to reduce minerals and other contaminants is to use a hose prefilter such as the Spa Marvel X10 Water Filter, which will eliminate many of them before they enter your hot tub.

You can test your hot tub's pH balance and contamination levels with a spa water testing kit like the Nature2 Zodiac. These kits contain a floater that holds bromine or chlorine tablets. The floater releases the proper level of chemicals into the water over time, which means that you will only need to test the water a couple of times per week. Alternatively, you can purchase traditional liquid test kits that will provide readings for the pH balance and chlorine levels in your spa water. These kits usually come with a container for collecting a water sample and require you to add drops of phenol red (red color) and OTO (yellow color) to the water and wait 15 seconds to compare the colors on the test strip to those on the color chart provided.

If you have a well-treated home, consider investing in a reverse osmosis system or water softener for your home, which will reduce the number of contaminants that get into your spa. If you don't have city-treated water, or if your home treatment system doesn't meet the needs of your hot tub, then you will need to test your water more often and perform a full water change every three to six months.

Another step in hot tub maintenance is to shock the water a few times a week. This ensures that any organic compounds from body oils, soap residues, and other contaminants are eliminated. Before shocking, turn off the air jets and aerators in your spa for better distribution of the chemicals. Afterward, leave the lid open and allow the chemical to work for 30 minutes before using your spa again. If you're using a chlorine-based shock, be sure to read the instructions carefully to ensure that chlorine levels don't rise too high. If you're using a non-chlorine-based product, simply follow the instructions on the bottle.

Clean the Cover

A clean spa cover helps keep water chemistry in balance and extends the life of the foam core underneath. Wipe the vinyl surface of the cover regularly to remove dirt, dust, grime, and other debris that accumulates on it over time. This can help reduce the need for abrasive cleaners, which could damage the vinyl or other components of the spa cover.

A gentle, non-abrasive cleaner can also help extend the life of a spa cover and make it easier to use. Avoid using cleaning products that contain detergents or alcohol. These can strip the vinyl's clear top layer and accelerate the cover's deterioration. Instead, look for a combination of cleaner and protectant designed to be safe on hot tub covers.

Another important step to take is to brush snow or ice off of the spa cover on a regular basis. This helps to minimize strain and stress on the cover as well as prevent the accumulation of ice which can break or tear the foam core beneath.

If your spa is located near trees or shrubs, you may want to sweep the area around it on a regular basis. This will help ensure that leaves and other debris don’t discolor the spa shell or damage the cover's vinyl.

Consider draining and refilling your spa twice to four times yearly for a more thorough cleaning. This will help to clear the water of soap residue, metals like iron and copper, organic contaminants, and other impurities. Be sure to drain and refill the spa with soft water if possible. If you have to fill it with hard water, add a spa pre-filter like the CleanScreenTM to an ordinary garden hose when adding the water to your spa to reduce mineral and other contaminants from the start. This will help to reduce the amount of chemicals that need to be added afterward to properly balance the water and sanitize it.

Check the Filters

It’s essential that you check and clean your spa’s filters regularly. This ensures that your water stays super clean and helps the equipment function well, saving you time, money, and energy.

A clean filter is the best protection against clogged pump impellers. Depending on how often you use your hot tub, you should change the filter every three to four months. Ideally, you should have an extra on hand so you can keep one in use while the other is being cleaned.

If you find that your filters are becoming dirty or clogged, try cleaning them with a filter cleaner or a garden hose sprayer. If the filter is beyond repair, replace it with a new one. When buying replacements, make sure that you purchase the same size as the original, or it may not fit. We offer a wide selection of filters, so you can easily get the right one for your hot tub.

When it comes to the shell of your hot tub, a diluted bleach solution is a great way to keep it looking good and prevent any mildew build-up. When using diluted bleach, be sure to wear rubber gloves and work in an area where there is no direct sunlight. The bleach is harsh on vinyl, and too much exposure to it can cause it to break down.

You should also consider purchasing a pre-filter to attach to your garden hose to keep impurities from entering your hot tub during fill-up. This includes dissolved metals, chemicals, organic contaminants, bacterial matter, and mold spores. It also helps eliminate chlorine by-products, volatile organic compounds, and even some heavy metals like copper.

In areas with high levels of calcium hardness, a pre-filter can be a valuable tool to help keep your water crystal clear and scale-free. When combined with a stain and scale treatment, the result is a clean, healthy hot tub that looks and feels amazing.

Test the Water

A key part of hot tub maintenance is regularly testing the water to ensure proper chemical levels. If the chemical balance is off, the water will feel rough on the skin, increasing wear on components like the heater, jets, and pumps. Luckily, testing spa water is not difficult or expensive. Several DIY test kits are available, including strip and liquid testers. Liquid test kits usually provide a container for collecting a sample. Simply dip the strip or drop a few drops of liquid in the container and compare the colors to the chart on the kit for your readings.

The main things you need to look out for are pH and alkalinity. Both of these are adjusted with chemicals such as sodium bicarbonate (spa up) or sodium bisulfate (spa down). A good test kit will also include a titrate test that lets you determine the amount of iron in the water. Iron is a common problem that can cause spa staining if it isn’t dealt with promptly. This can be treated with metal sequestrant, keeping the pH level stable, and using a hose filter when filling the hot tub.

If you’re unsure of your results or need a little help with the chemistry, consider visiting your local pool shop for water analysis. They can give you expert advice on the water in your spa and offer products to adjust your alkalinity, pH, and hardness.

Regardless of which method you use to test your spa water, always make sure that the jets are turned off, and the lid is closed before taking a sample. If the jets are running, they can skew the results.

If you have a murky spa, there are likely lotions, hair products, and other body oils in the water. To keep your spa clean and healthy, you should shower before entering it and remove as much lotion and hair product as possible. Having a spray bottle of diluted bleach on hand is also a good idea. This can be sprayed on the underside of the cover to quickly kill any mildew and mold that might be growing.