How are spa tubs cleaned between treatments?

We can't tell you how you can get your hands on a tub like that, but we can tell you how to keep it clean.
We can't tell you how you can get your hands on a tub like that, but we can tell you how to keep it clean.
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Some people like to work out or watch reality TV after a stressful day. But for a fortunate few, slipping into a relaxing spa tub helps to shed the weight of the day. The experience isn't so relaxing, however, if your tub isn't clean.

A spa tub, also known as hot tub, can be very easy to care for and maintain if you know what you're doing and very difficult if you don't, according to James Sturgeon, industry expert and owner of Premier Hot Tubs in Alpharetta, Ga.


One of the best long-term tips Sturgeon has to offer current and would-be spa tub owners is to buy and install an ozone generator. For between $400 and $600, you can purchase a quality generator, which will pay for itself in about two years in terms of money saved on chemical purchases.

What can a spa tub owner do in the short term though? On a weekly basis, Sturgeon recommends gathering the following items to clean and sanitize your spa tub:

  • Test strips for measuring alkalinity, chlorine and pH levels in your tub
  • Non-chlorine shock treatment
  • Regular granulated chlorine
  • Sodium bicarbonate treatment
  • Calcium inhibitor
  • Special purpose cleaning pad
  • Spa wand

Now you're ready to conduct routine weekly maintenance with the following steps:

  • With jets running, add about 2 ounces of non-chlorine shock treatment for every 250 gallons of water. This treatment will oxidize the contaminants in your spa, making it possible for them to be tested and sanitized after about 15 minutes of exposure.
  • Use your test strip to measure the level of chlorine, pH and alkalinity (sometimes called total alkalinity) in your water.
  • If your pH level is within the optimal range between 7.2 and 7.6, don't adjust alkalinity because adjusting one will affect the other. Optimal alkalinity falls between 80 and 120 parts per million, but again, if alkalinity is measuring slightly outside of that range while pH levels are fine, just leave it alone.
  • Adjust chlorine levels using regular granulated chlorine treatment for spa tubs. The optimal range is about 1 to 3 parts per million.
  • Test again, to be sure that your levels are now optimal. If not, make necessary adjustments.
  • Once your levels are optimal, adding 2 ounces of calcium inhibitor will help to prevent the hot water environment from staining and scaling the inside of your spa tub.
  • Finally, use your spa-tub surface-safe cleaning pad to wipe down the water line and remove any loose debris from the foot wells using a spa wand.

That's just the weekly maintenance. Read on to see what else will make your spa tub happy.


More Maintenance for Your Spa Tub

Using a spa tub may be relaxing, but maintaining a tub that you actually want to luxuriate in takes a bit more work. Here are a few other tricks for treating it right.

  • Every two weeks, if you own a filter that permits cleaning, you should wash it with a high-pressure hose. Before removing it, make sure your filter is free of debris. It's also a good idea to have two filters, so that you'll have one to install temporarily while you're cleaning the other one.
  • One a month, you may want to apply a UV-screening treatment to the tub's cover. Doing so may extend the cover's life.
  • Every two months, soak your filter in a filter-cleaning solution in order to break down organic matter. Remember to hose it down again before reinstalling it [source: Sturgeon].
  • Every three months, add a bottle of concentrated sequestering agent to prevent iron and other metals from building up in your spa and leaving unsightly stains [source: Sturgeon].

Following these steps will keep your spa tub clean and hygienic between the required semiannual treatments, when the whole interior of the tub must be drained, cleaned and reglossed, and the water lines must be completely blown out. For that procedure, you may feel more comfortable hiring a professional, but you can also do it yourself if you're so inclined [source: Sturgeon].


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Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Hot Tub Essentials. "Frequently Asked Questions About Ozone in Hot Tubs." (Accessed January 14, 2010)
  • Sturgeon, James. Hot Tub Maintenance. Personal Interview. Jan. 13, 2010.
  • Sturgeon, James. "Hot Tub Services." (Accessed January 14, 2010)