How to clean a spa bath

This article covers everything you need to know about cleaning and maintaining a jetted spa bath.

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At the end of a long day, there's nothing more relaxing than soaking in a spa bath.

Unlike outdoor spa pools or hot tubs that have built-in filtration and are designed to be left on and filled with water, with a spa bath, the water is drained after each use. The water in a spa bath does not circulate and is generally not filtered.

In this article, you’ll learn the best way to clean a jetted spa bath, what products to use, along with troubleshooting tips and advice.

We'll cover:

And more!

What is a spa bath? (How is it different from a spa pool?)

A spa bath is a large bathtub with built-in powered massage jets. A pump drives the massage jets in a spa bath. It will be plumbed in with hot and cold water faucets and a drain outlet. A spa bath is emptied after each use and its primary purpose is for cleaning. A spa bath does not require sanitiser to be added to the water, since the water is only used once.

spa bath

A spa bath / jetted bath

In contrast, a spa pool has a circulation and filtration system so the water is not changed after each use. The water in a spa pool does require sanitising daily to kill bacteria that may otherwise build up in the water. The water in a spa pool should be changed every 3-4 months or more often depending on bather load.

A spa pool is not plumbed in, it is generally filled with cold water from a garden hose and the water is heated by a heater element or heat pump unit.

A spa bath is almost always installed in an inside bathroom, whereas a spa pool usually comes with a weather-proof cabinet which means it can be installed indoors or outdoors.

Spa pool

A spa pool

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What is the best way to clean a jetted spa bath/hot tub?

To make sure you always have clear sparkling water and clean water coming through the jets – it’s important to maintain your spa bath with regular cleaning.

Cleaning a spa bath is not difficult, but it does take some time. Most jetted spa baths can be cleaned with supplies that are readily available. Follow the steps below for how to clean your spa bath.

1. Fill the bath with cold water above the jet line.

  • This will allow the water to go far deeper into the spa pool plumbing and internal pipes.

2. Remove the filters (if your spa bath has a filter).

  • Remove your spa bath filter and assess whether it is in good condition or not. If the condition is good, simply rinse and clean it, and if it looks old or damaged, replace the filter with a new one. Leave the filter out for the following steps.
  • You may also use a filter cleaning wand to clean your filters.

3. Add 50 ml of Spa Safe per 500 litres of spa water.

  • Pour it directly into the water.

4. Turn jets (pump) on.

  • Also open all jets up, to avoid stagnant water sitting behind jets.

5. Run jets for 5-10 minutes. Very dirty pipes will require a longer time.

  • This will loosen and dissolve any biofilm and organic matter that may have built up in your spa plumbing.

6. Turn the jets off and drain the bath. Rinse the bath with cold water.

  • Refilling your spa bath with fresh water without rinsing will reduce the life of your spa water and will require more chemical usage to maintain water clarity.

7. Using Spa Safe on a clean, damp cloth wipe the bath surface and surrounding area.

  • This can help remove remaining grime and residue from the shell and jets.
  • Using dental floss, you can get inside and behind the jet nozzles and clean them thoroughly.

8. Polish the bath with a clean, dry cloth for a sparkling shine.

  • This will ensure that excess cleaner and water are removed.

Should I use a pipe degreaser for cleaning a spa bath?

Yes, you should use a pipe degreaser in a spa bath. Select a degreasing product that also has a sanitising action so that the pipes remain hygienically clean until the bath is used again. You should degrease your spa frequently for the comfort and enjoyment of each guest. When the spa is used in a commercial environment this should be between each client or after each room stay.

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What is the best product for cleaning spa bath pipes?

Spa Safe is a commercial-grade surface cleaner and pipe cleaner.

Poppits Spa Safe 1 litre is widely used to disinfect commercial spa baths as required by the Department of Health to eliminate disease-causing pathogens from contaminated pipes.

This fast-acting spa pipe cleaner eliminates potential breeding grounds for fatal pathogens legionella and other bacteria.

  • It comes with an easy-to-use self-measuring bottle
  • Wipes out health-threatening bacteria, fungus, mildew, moulds and mites in pipes
  • Totally eliminates disease-causing bacteria associated with asthma, hayfever, athletes' foot and eczema
  • The degreasing solution melts away all pipe-accumulated fat and debris deposits as spa water is circulated and drained away.
  • Controls the growth of airborne bacteria in pipes that can breed & be inhaled e.g. Legionnaire's disease
  • Regular pipe degreasing assures an enjoyable and hygienic spa experience

Make sure waste water is not draining into a septic tank. Spa Safe will kill microbes in a septic tank.

Frequently asked questions

How often should I clean my spa bath?

It depends on how you use your spa bath. If only used occasionally, you can clean it just four or five times a year. If you use your spa bath regularly, it also needs to be deep cleaned at least once per month.

Use a cloth to wipe the interior of the bath out after each use.

To keep your jetted tub looking fresh, consider the products you use in the water. Though tempting, it’s better not to use bath oils and other products that leave behind a greasy residue once the tub is drained. Applying scented body products after you have finished bathing can achieve the same luxurious feeling of softness.

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How do I know if my hot tub has bacteria?

On a regular basis, assess the quality of the water. Look out for slime, a sour smell or unclear water – clear signs of a bacterial infestation. You can often see/smell the bacteria long before it becomes a serious problem. This is the perfect time to treat it before it gets worse!

What is the black stuff coming out of my spa bath jets?

The black flakes or blobs are mould and mildew. Coloured or white flakes can be a result of bacteria from human skin, oils, soaps, and other junk (use your imagination). These lovely floaties have been allowed to spawn in residual water left behind within the piping from the last time the unit was used.

This is why it is important to use a pipe degreaser and sanitiser regularly in your spa to flush out these unwanted visitors!

Can I run vinegar through my jetted spa bath?

Yes, vinegar is good to use for cleaning a jetted spa bath. Fill the tub with enough hot water to cover the jets by about three inches. Add one-half cup of vinegar to the tub. Run the jets to circulate this mix throughout the system.

Vinegar is not as strong as a dedicated spa pipe cleaner, so you may find it does not completely remove built-up organic matter.

Vinegar also does not have strong sanitising properties, so it may not kill bacteria that could be present in your plumbing system. We recommend a dedicated spa pipe degreaser and sanitiser which will do a much more thorough job.

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Can I use baking soda to clean my spa bath?

Yes, shake some sprinkles of baking soda inside on the surface of the wet tub and let it sit and dry into a paste. Then you can use a clean, damp cloth to scrub away the mould, mildew, and grime left behind. You can use baking soda on areas like the tub faucet and the drain, too, with excellent results.

Can I use detergent or dish soap to clean my spa bath?

No, dish soap and laundry detergents contain sulfates which can leave an oily film and contribute to unwanted foam and scum building up in your system.

Can I use oils in a jetted spa bath?

Essential oils aren't designed for use in jetted spa baths, so we do not recommend them.

These products can cause a myriad of problems to a spa bath's system. They deposit oil and scum inside the pipes and plumbing, causing unwanted foam and scum in the water and making it difficult to clean.

If you do want to indulge in an aromatic experience, we recommend a dedicated spa aromatherapy product that is not oil based and is specially designed for spa water.

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How Long Should I Stay Inside a spa bath?

Ideally, you should aim to time your spa bath sessions to last between 15 and 30 minutes.

Depending on the factors at play (i.e., water temperature), you might be able to extend your soak to 45 minutes.

Keep in mind that you can always re-enter your spa bath later on!

If you are new, start with shorter sessions and work your way up to longer ones as your body adjusts to the heat.

Are spa baths healthy?

Regular soaking in a spa bath may provide several health benefits, such as muscle relaxation, pain relief, and improved sleep. Some studies suggest a wider variety of health benefits, but more research is needed to determine the specifics of spa bath therapy with particular conditions.

Why are my spa bath jets not working properly?

The most common problem is debris obstructing or blocking the flow through your jets. This can be caused by oils or scum partially blocking your jets, or a calcium build-up.

To resolve this, run a spa pipe degreaser through your system and completely open all the jets to allow debris to be flushed out. If this doesn’t help, you can remove the jets and soak in vinegar to help break down a build-up of calcium, then gently scrub with a toothbrush.

How long does a jetted spa bath last?

The average life of a jetted tub is between 10 and 20 years. This is a large range that is influenced by a number of factors. These can include the frequency of use, routine maintenance procedures, and the overall quality of the tub.

Spa bath

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In Summary

Spa baths are a luxurious thing to have, but they need to be cleaned correctly to ensure the jets are functioning properly and the water remains clean and safe.

By following the cleaning tips and advice above, you should have a good idea of how to keep your spa bath fresh and inviting - ready for your next relaxing soak!

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