Are Hot Tubs Hygienic? A Complete Guide to Maintaining a Clean Hot Tub

Hot tubs have become synonymous with relaxation, offering a haven of warmth and serenity. Yet, beneath the inviting waters lurk potential hazards if hygiene is neglected. In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve into the risks associated with inadequate cleaning, bacterial growth, skin-related issues, methods for identifying problems, and practical steps to minimize these risks.

Wellis hot tub large with jets filled with water.

The Risks of Inadequate Cleaning

Bacterial Infections
  • Inadequate cleaning can lead to the proliferation of harmful bacteria, such as Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, causing respiratory illnesses and skin infections. Regular cleaning and maintenance, including proper water testing and chemical adjustments, help control bacterial growth. Implementing a schedule for draining and refilling the hot tub water reduces the risk of contamination.
Skin Irritations
  • Insufficient cleanliness may result in skin irritations and conditions like "hot tub folliculitis" due to the presence of bacteria and contaminants.

    Encouraging users to shower before entering the hot tub removes oils and contaminants from the skin, reducing the likelihood of skin irritations. Thorough cleaning of filters, skimmers, and tub surfaces also contributes to a hygienic environment.
Chemical Imbalance 
  • Improper cleaning practices can lead to chemical imbalances, causing water to become overly acidic or alkaline, which may result in skin and eye irritation.

    Regular water testing and adjustments of pH levels, chlorine/bromine concentrations, and alkalinity help maintain a balanced chemical environment. Following manufacturer guidelines for chemical use and ensuring proper filtration contribute to chemical stability.
Respiratory Issues
  • Inadequate cleaning can facilitate the growth of airborne bacteria, leading to respiratory problems, particularly in poorly ventilated areas.

    Regular maintenance, including cleaning air vents, filters, and ensuring proper water circulation, helps minimize airborne contaminants. Adequate ventilation in hot tub areas is crucial to reduce the risk of respiratory issues.

Spotting Potential Problems

Water Colour and Clarity
  • Cloudy or discolored water is a visual indicator of an imbalance in chemical levels or the presence of contaminants. Routine checks and the use of appropriate chemicals help maintain water clarity and quality.
Water Testing
  • Investing in reliable water testing kits enables regular monitoring of pH levels, chlorine/bromine concentrations, and alkalinity. Frequent testing, at least once a week, allows for prompt adjustments to chemical levels, ensuring a safe bathing environment.
Water Color and Clarity
  • Signs of a Problem
    Cloudy or discolored water.

  • Possible Causes
    Imbalance in Chemical Levels: Incorrect pH, low sanitizer levels (chlorine or bromine), or high levels of dissolved minerals can lead to water discoloration.

  • Contaminants
    The presence of organic matter, body oils, and other contaminants can contribute to cloudy water.

  • Preventive Measures
    Regularly shock the hot tub to eliminate contaminants and maintain sanitizer effectiveness.Clean the filters regularly to ensure proper water filtration. Educate users about proper hygiene practices before entering the hot tub.

Water Testing

Importance of Testing

  • Water testing is essential for maintaining balanced chemical levels and ensuring a safe and enjoyable hot tub experience.

    Testing kits are available for pH, total alkalinity, and sanitizer levels (chlorine or bromine). Buy Here

  • Frequency of Testing
    Perform water tests at least once a week, or more frequently during periods of heavy usage. Test the water before and after adding chemicals to gauge their effectiveness.

  • Interpreting Results
    pH Levels: Maintain a pH level between 7.2 and 7.8 for optimal comfort and sanitizer efficacy. Sanitizer Levels Keep chlorine or bromine levels within the recommended range for effective disinfection. Alkalinity: Stabilize total alkalinity to prevent pH fluctuations.
Taking Action
Adjust chemical levels as needed based on test results.
Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for adding chemicals and wait for sufficient circulation before retesting.

Minimizing Risks

Proper Cleaning and Maintenance
  • Adhering to manufacturer guidelines for cleaning and maintaining your hot tub is fundamental. Routinely clean filters, skimmers, and jets to prevent the accumulation of debris that can compromise water quality.
Regular Water Replacement
  • Periodically draining and refilling the hot tub water (approximately every three to four months) is essential to reduce the build-up of contaminants. Thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing the tub during water replacement are critical steps in maintaining a hygienic environment.

Showering Before Use

  • Showering before using a hot tub is crucial for maintaining water hygiene and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. Our bodies naturally carry oils, lotions, sweat, and other contaminants that, if introduced directly into the hot tub, can compromise water quality. These substances can create a breeding ground for bacteria and diminish the effectiveness of sanitizing agents like chlorine. By showering before entering the hot tub, individuals can effectively remove these impurities, reducing the risk of skin irritations, infections, and the overall burden on the tub's sanitization system. This simple practice not only contributes to a cleaner and healthier hot tub environment but also promotes responsible and considerate use, enhancing the enjoyment for everyone.

  • Removing sunscreen before using a hot tub is essential for maintaining water quality and ensuring the effectiveness of sanitizing agents. Sunscreen contains oils, chemicals, and residues that, when introduced into the hot tub water, can create a film on the surface, reducing the efficacy of sanitizers like chlorine or bromine. This film not only hampers the tub's ability to kill bacteria and other contaminants but also contributes to cloudiness and imbalance in water chemistry. By showering off sunscreen before entering the hot tub, individuals help prevent the accumulation of these substances, ensuring a cleaner and safer environment for themselves and others. Additionally, this practice promotes responsible hot tub use, contributing to a more enjoyable and hygienic experience for everyone.

    Person checking hot tub spa filter

Before, After, and Periodic Hot Tub Maintenance

Before Entering

  • A thorough shower before entering the hot tub removes oils, lotions, and contaminants from the body. Regular checks of water quality using test strips, with adjustments made as necessary, ensure a safe and inviting soak.
  • Check sainsier level (Chlorine / Bromine)
  • Check PH level, alkalinity and hardness level

Weekly Cleaning

  • Shock with Non-Chlorine Shock to oxidise the water.
  • Take out the filters and clean with a hose pipe or Wellis Spa Wand.
  • Properly securing the hot tub cover post-use prevents debris and contaminants from infiltrating the water.

Biannually Maintenance

  • Turn off the hot tub.
  • Drain water using the drain valve or submersible pump.
  • Wipe over the acrylic shell and rinse with water.
  • Clean filters manually using the Wellis Spa Filter Cleaner and leave to dry.
  • Refil with clean water.

Maintaining hot tub hygiene is not just a luxury; it is a responsibility. By embracing regular cleaning practices, water testing, and user education, hot tub owners can create a pristine and safe environment for relaxation. The key lies in a proactive approach to upkeep, ensuring that your hot tub remains a source of pleasure while prioritizing the health and well-being of those who indulge in its soothing waters.