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Hot Tub Care for Dummies – A Beginners Guide to Basic Upkeep

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is going crazy for hot tubs. And why shouldn’t they? Jacuzzis have been around for a long time, but it’s getting easier and easier to set up the perfect hot tub system at home. It doesn’t matter if they are the high end models like these, or the cheaper tubs that we review. It’s more affordable to run and look after a hot tub in 2022 than you might think.

However, it’s worth remembering that you’re doing more than just filling up a paddling pool. Good hot tub maintenance is crucial if you’re going to get the best out of your jacuzzi for years to come. 

These are just some of the questions we will be answering in this article:

What Do You Do When You First Get In A Hot Tub?

There’s no need to worry. In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about setting up your tub. We’ll also look at in-depth care tips, from water chemistry basics to regular spa maintenance and the range and usage in which you should use.

Testing the water means doing more than just putting a toe in. However, it’s easier than you think to run a hot tub once you’re used to the absolute basics. Let’s get started.

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Hot Tubs for Dummies: The Basics

Let’s start with the basics when it comes to spa treatment for beginners. A hot tub is more than just an overly warm bath. To keep your tub bubbling and at a healthy, hygienic standard, you’re going to need to be careful about cleaning. Even the most simple of hot tubs need chemicals adding to them to help keep things clean. However, there are a variety of different chemicals out there you can use, which might make the whole affair seem a little complicated, at least at first.

However, don’t worry about PH level and calcium hardness just yet. Let’s focus on getting your hot tub up and running. Luckily, it will probably take you less time than you imagine.

Setting Up A Hot Tub for the First Time

So – you’ve bought a hot tub. Fantastic! It’s likely you will have a full inflatable hot tub set up guide available to you if you’ve bought a tub from a leading brand. If not, don’t worry, as getting started is fairly simple. Before we dive into the specifics, here’s a general itinerary you are likely going to need to follow.

Make sure your hot tub is powered off. However, be ready to power on shortly – so make sure everything is plugged in and good to go.

Start filling up your hot tub via the filtration system with your hose. You may wish to use a garden hose to do this.

If it’s your first time filling up your hot tub, be sure to remove your rests and pillows. Leave the top of the tub off.
You’re going to need to fill your tub up to the recommended level with water before powering on. You should also make sure your filters are off at this point.
Then, it is important you sanitise your tub. You must do this the first time you use it, and whenever you are coming back to it after a period of non-use. Adding chemicals to your hot tub first time around doesn’t have to be tricky.

In this guide, we’ll look carefully at some of the ways you can sanitise your tub. However, for now, let us assume that you are using chlorine. You will need to only add enough chemicals to your tub as dictated by its size. This is so that you get the perfect water balance. You’ll need a neutral balance of 7 on the PH scale. Otherwise, you could make your tub too acidic, or too alkaline.

In this guide, we’ll look carefully at some of the ways you can sanitise your tub. However, for now, let us assume that you are using chlorine. You will need to only add enough chemicals to your tub as dictated by its size. This is so that you get the perfect water balance. You’ll need a neutral balance of 7 on the PH scale. Otherwise, you could make your tub too acidic, or too alkaline.
Experts recommend that you leave your hot tub to sanitise for at least an hour. You should check the PH scale during this time, making sure that it is at the perfect level. You should run the pumps during this time.

During future use, you may not need to run your pumps for as long. Around 20 minutes may be enough. However, always follow the advice of your hot tub installer or manufacturer.

If using chlorine, once the pumps have run for an hour, use a reducer to bring things back down to a safe level. Too much chlorine is going to be harmful to any bathers.
For future use, you may wish to put your cover on to allow the temperature to rise to where you need it to be. The best modern hot tubs will heat up in a matter of minutes.
Once your water is at a healthy, safe level, you’re free to enjoy it!

Hot Tub Chemicals Guide

Now we’ve looked at how to set up hot tub’s for the first time, it’s worth looking a bit closer at how you can maintain it. You will likely find that most models will come with a reliable hot tub cleaner kit which you can use to monitor your PH levels and help to keep things safe.

Servicing your hot tub properly means doing more than just cleaning. You’ll need to ensure that your filters are free from debris and that your chemical levels are always safe from use to use. It also means making sure you have the best hot tub chemicals to use.

Don’t panic! 

As we progress through this guide, we’ll consider all your chemical options, and what is likely to work best for you.

cleaning a filter with a hose

A Quick Guide to Hot Tub Circulation and Filtration

It’s always a good idea to run your hot tub filters and filter cartridges regularly. If a filter clogs up with dirt and debris, it may get harder for you to fill up your tub, and you may find that it runs less efficiently. Therefore, most experts will suggest you run your filter systems for around eight to nine hours a day. This may sound like a lot, but it will make all the difference in the long run.

You may also need to regularly clean your filter cartridge units. This, again, will help to make sure your hot tub performs at its best. The best thing to do if you’re unsure about when and how to clean your hot tub filter units and cartridges is to follow your instruction manual. It just makes sense! However, do keep reading, as it’s worth getting accustomed to the general rules of thumb.

Hot Tub Water Treatment

One side to hot tub ownership many people aren’t sure about, at least, to begin with, is how to handle chemicals. Keeping water clean in a hot tub is crucial. This is especially the case when you’re going to be sharing it with other people! But do you know how to make the most of your hot tub water? What exactly does hot tub care involve?

Let’s take a look at some water basics, and consider how you can keep your water chemistry levels healthy throughout years of careful use.

test strip being held over a hot tub

How To Test Your Water Regularly

Learning how to test hot tub water is easy. You’re going to need a pH strip to analyse whether or not your tub is safe to step into or not! This will determine whether your pH level is too acidic, or too alkaline.

Hot Tub Water Balancing in Brief

The perfect PH level for a hot tub is around 7, but it generally depends on what you use as chemicals. For example, the perfect PH standard for chlorine is going to be very different from the perfect pH level for bromine. Don’t panic about the different names of chemicals just yet, as we’ll cover all the basic chemicals and tub additives shortly.

Balancing your water, however, means doing more than just keeping an eye on the pH levels. You should consider calcium hardness or water hardness. Water hardness can lead to build-up in your tub, and the knock-on effect of this means you are going to risk damaging your tub in the long run. You should also keep a close eye on the alkalinity of your water, too. If alkaline levels are too high, the water you run could end up being too aggressive.

To monitor and adjust these levels, there is a variety of different products available. For example, you can invest in alkalinity increasers, pH increasers and pH decreasers online.

pouring chemicals into a hot tub

What is a Hot Tub Sanitiser?

A hot tub sanitiser is a chemical you can add to your hot tub to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Crucially, this helps to make sure your tub is safe to use all year round. With different bodies and different germs coming into contact with the water, it’s important to make sure you sanitise regularly. This is a large part of the cleaning process. If your spa water isn’t sanitised and clean to use, you’ll risk people getting all kinds of nasty diseases. It’s probably best to not be responsible for that kind of thing!
a net next to a hot tub

What Chemicals Do I Need?

It’s a good idea to look at your various options as far as chemicals are concerned. Tub care is all about choosing the best hot tub cleaning and sanitising chemicals to fit your needs.

Generally, the two main sanitiser options for hot tubs are chlorine and bromine. Chlorine is commonly used in swimming pools. Therefore, it’s likely to be a familiar smell you’re already aware of if you go swimming a lot!

Many people prefer using chlorine when cleaning their hot tub because it’s fast-acting. You can either buy chlorine powder, which you can safely add to your water’s surface, or chlorine tablets, which you can use in a safe holder. However, you must follow the instructions on any products you buy. Generally, you must leave chlorine to work for at least two hours before doing anything further.

Bromine is popular with some owners as it tends to smell less obvious and offers a deeper clean. However, it takes longer to act, and is often more expensive.

Some people even disinfect their hot tubs with saltwater. You can buy special systems for saltwater sanitisation, which work by creating their own chlorine. Some people see this as a faster, more natural way to clean their tubs.

When it comes to checking the sanitisation level of your hot tub, be sure to use test strips. These will tell you if your spa water is at an optimal level to use. For chlorine, you should have a pH balance between 7.2 and 7.6, whereas the pH balance for bromine should be between 7.0 and 7.4.

If you’re worried about how many chlorine tablets you should use in your floater for your hot tub, make sure you read the instructions supplied with any products you buy. The same applies to how much chlorine granules you should add to a hot tub. It’ll vary depending on the size of your tub.

Shock Treatment

You might also want to take a look at shock treating your hot tub. Doing this once a week, you add a shock dose, or calcium hypochlorite, to oxidise your water. This helps to make sure you kill bacteria, remove skin pollutants and generally take out the nastiness people carry on their bodies. Even if they shower or bathe before getting into your hot tub, your guests could still be carrying all kinds of nasty little extras with them.

Shock is, once again, available for you to buy online. Here is a cool guide on how to shock your Lay Z Spa

someone collecting debris from surface of hot tub with a net

How Do You Clean Out a Hot Tub?

As well as sanitising your hot tub, you should take care of it by cleaning the water regularly, and by making sure the actual unit and cushioning are fit for purpose. It makes sense that, while your tub may be sanitary, it could still use a good clean every once in a while with an inflatable hot tub cleaner.

For example, you could find hot tub foam appearing on the top of your water. The best way to handle this is to ask people to rinse their bathing clothes down before getting in – as external detergents can settle easily on the water!

Here’s a quick look at how you can keep your water and your hot spa itself clean and safe to use.

Here is a full guide on cleaning a mouldy inflatable hot tub so you never have to get in a dirty tub again. Have it back to its glistening self in no time!

a full hot tub

Hot Tub Maintenance Schedule

Providing you run your pumps each day, clear out your filter units and sanitise your water, there isn’t much you need to worry about. Cleaning a hot tub is likely easier than you first imagine. Keeping the water balance, for example, is one element of your schedule you need to attend to regularly, and certainly if you and your family or guests are going to keep using it. Otherwise, you never know what nastiness might be lurking in the water.

A good garden hose and filter system aren’t enough. You need to be proactive about hot tub maintenance and how you treat your spa water! Otherwise, you could end up passing around all kinds of illnesses.

inside of an empty hot tub

Draining A Hot Tub

To clean out a hot tub properly, you’re going to need to drain it. Adding any kind of chemicals, tablets or solids to a tub or its water means that, eventually, everything is going to break down. Over time, if you don’t drain your tub regularly, it will get more difficult to maintain. That is because pool water chemicals will become less efficient.

You should look to drain your pool water at least once a month, or once every few months if you don’t use it regularly. All hot tubs will need draining at some point, but whether or not you use your spa cover, it’s a good idea to keep on top of your cleaning, draining and maintenance regimen.

While draining and cleaning a tub, you should also think about using a pipe cleaner tool or product which can help to get grime and dirt out of the interiors. Your filter system is only going to do so much.

Tips to Use a Hot Tub

New to hot tub maintenance or setting up a spa? Here are a few hot tub safety rules you can put to good use.

For other tips on how to stay safe and act around a spa, see our in-depth guide.

Conclusion

Hot tub maintenance doesn’t have to be tricky. However, investing in a good hot tub means having to put time and effort into properly running and treating it. It’s not good enough to just put your spa cover on and take it off from time to time.

Spas and tubs are great fun to use providing you treat them well. If you ignore water quality issues, for example, you could end up doing your spa some serious damage. However, there is always a solution to getting everything back up in working order.

Please use our hot tub care for beginners guide as a great starting point. However, do always read the instructions on any sanitisers or chemicals you use. In no time, you’ll be running a healthy, relaxing spa system you’ll want to take good care of throughout the year.

John Devlin

Hello, Welcome to my website. I’m John, and I created the InflatableHotTubGuide while researching these spas nearly a decade ago. Since its creation, the site has become the leading UK resource for many models. As a passionate hot tub user, I love to test and explore all the latest machines this industry keeps creating. I hope you find our content helpful.