One great feature of inflatable hot tubs is their simplicity, and this includes cleaning and maintenance. This page will show you how to clean a hot tub in 7 steps.
The attached pump does most of the work for you automatically, filtering and cleaning the water and sometimes even treating hard water (if your spa comes with a hard water treatment system.
Each tub usually comes with a floating chlorine dispenser which continually floats on top of the water and, you guessed it, dispenses chlorine or bromine tablets to sanitize the spa.
These maintenance systems are built into today’s modern blow-up spas and work automatically. All you really need to do is add chemicals when needed, switch out the filters and scoop out debris like leaves, should they get in the pool.
Draining and re-filling the spa is also part of keeping your spa clean and running properly. Depending on how often and how many people use it, you may want to change the water monthly or every few months. This is also a simple procedure, which basically involves:
- Draining the tub (unplugging the drain and attaching a garden hose)
- Wiping down the tub if necessary for winter storage
- Filling the spa with water via a garden hose
What Spa Chemicals are Needed?
The chemicals you need will depend on the spa you have and the water in your location. That said, some people use this chemical kit for inflatable spas like Coleman and Intex, and it works well. Below are some general steps that typically are done on a weekly basis.
This can be a quick 5-10 minute task that requires very little effort. My friend schedules his weekly hot tub maintenance on Friday evenings while he enjoys a beer.
I call that Hot Tub Happy Hour and think that’s a great way to remind yourself to check the spa. Be sure to check with your particular hot tub manual for instructions and chemicals needed.
How to Clean a Hot Tub in 7 Steps:
Step 1: Add Chlorine
You will need to sanitize the water, usually with chlorine, so that your spa doesn’t turn into a green pond full of algae. Many spas include a floating dispenser which constantly chlorinates the water, so this step is somewhat automated.
Step 2: Test the pH Level
Use a water testing kit for this step. Most spas will include a test kit when you first purchase your tub. You can also get a package of 50 test strips for about $12. If you test your water once a week, the package should last about one year.
Your hot tub manual will specify the pH level where your water should be. Typically, the range for water in an inflatable hot tub is 7.2 to 7.8 pH. If the level falls below 7.2 pH, the water is too acidic and can corrode the inner working of the pump. Above 7.8 pH can lead to mineral deposits.
There are granules that you can add to your spa to boost or lower the alkaline level, and you can get these at your local pool supply store or at the bottom of this page.
Step 3: Clean the Filter
Some inflatable hot tubs will have one filter while others have 2. Check these regularly to wash away any debris that has accumulated in them.
Try to keep stuff from building up in the filters, since this will prevent them from working as well. Some people do this weekly, others check every few weeks. I spray mine with a hose. Some people even run theirs through the dishwasher.
Also keep in mind that filter cartridges also have a certain lifespan and will need to be replaced at some point. Again, check with your spa’s manual.
Step 4: Other Additives
Some spa packages also include a water softener solution and others offer a saline solution to eliminate the need to use chlorine chemicals. They don’t necessarily make the hot tub cleaning process any more difficult – they are just some extra things to pay attention to.
Step 5: Cleaning Your Spa
When you empty your hot tub or are draining it and refilling it, this is a good time to actually clean it with a mild soap and water. People typically use a soft cloth to wipe it down. Avoid harsh cleaners and scrub brushes, as this can damage the surface of your spa.
Note: If a spa is left filled and unattended for a long period of time (several months), it may develop mildew. You can wipe away mildew, but it can stain the sides of the tub.
If this situation has happened to you, and you haven’t been able to remove the stains with mild soap and water, try using a cleaner specifically designed for pvc-vinyl. Star Brite makes a spray cleaner that works well at removing stains and marks while maintaining the pliability of the tub material.
Also, check out the Hot Tub Scumbug Cleaner for absorbing oil and grease from the water. Just place it in your spa and let it go to work. A mini spa vacuum can also be helpful for removing dirt, gravel and small debris that land at the bottom of your tub.
Step 6: Keeping Your Hot Tub Clean
Although I probably don’t need to tell you this, I’ll say it anyway – for the other people reading it. An easy way to keep your spa cleaner is to (1) shower before entering and (2) keep the lid on when the tub is not in use.
Regular cleaning will also keep your spa running better for longer. The more use your tub gets, the more often you may need to clean it. Some users suggest draining and cleaning the tub every three to four weeks, although you may not need to drain it that often.
Step 7: When in Doubt
When you don’t know what to do, call your local pool supply store. They are happy to help because they have supplies that they can sell you (that you need anyway to keep your spa running properly).
It’s also nice to know that you have someone to call if you have a spa question. Also, don’t forget about your spa manufacturer. Companies like Intex and Coleman are really good at troubleshooting and addressing issues with that particular brand.