How to Clean Your Hot Tub with Baking Soda

Have you ever opened the lid to your hot tub only to discover you cannot relax and enjoy it as you had planned? Cloudy water, smells and biofilms prevent you from immediately stepping in. There is nothing more frustrating than having to unexpectedly clean your hot tub. As an owner, you realize that routine maintenance is necessary to avoid further complications; however, you wonder if there anything that can make the process easier and less time consuming. In this article, we will show you how to clean your hot tub with an everyday and inexpensive household product, baking soda.

How do you use the baking soda? Below are ten simple steps to follow:

  • Flushing your lines
  • Powering down
  • Draining the hot tub
  • Cleaning the surface
  • Dealing with problem areas
  • Cleaning or replacing the filters
  • Re-installing the filters
  • Refilling with water
  • Powering back up
  • Treating the water properly with chemicals
  • Maintaining the hot tub
  • Winterize your hot tub

How to Tell It’s Time to Clean Your Hot Tub

Hot tub need more than just chemicals and a good balance. While the chemistry of the water looks perfect, it may be time to drain and start again.

The exchange of water should follow a schedule that can be understood by simple calculations. Follow this formula to decide when to drain the HOT TUB water and start over:

([number of gallons in the hot tub]/ [number of frequent users])/3= number of days the hot tub water needs to be changed.

For example, my hot tub holds 400 gallons of water. Two people in my family frequently use this hot tub. 400 divided by 2 is 200. 200 divided by 3 is 66. I should clean and hydrate my hot tub every 66 days or every two months.

There are other precursor factors to consider when deciding whether to clean before your usual schedule. Note the following:

  • Muddy water
  • Accumulation of biofilms with a brown ring around the waterline.
  • Strong smell of chlorine. The smell is not actually chlorine, but chloramine, which is mixed with urine, sweat and body oil in the water to create the smell.
  • Water irritates the skin and eyes, which are also responsible for chloramines.

Before explaining how to clean your hot tub, let’s review a few important key terms related to cleaning your hot tub.

What Is A Biofilm?

Biofilms are actually living, complex bacteria that reproduce to build colonies and communities. Hot tubs are breeding grounds for a variety of bacteria and microbes because they provide a warm and humid environment in which many bacteria and microbes thrive.

The bacteria, which combine with body oils, skin cells and organic matter, are introduced into the hot tub to form biofilms. Biofilms are targeted primarily at the pipes and spouts in the hot tub, where water is seldomdischarged. You should be careful to buy used or refurbished hot tubs and always check for biofilms that accumulate in tubes so you can properly disinfect them.

What are Chloramines?

Chloramines are produced when the chlorine used for hot tub disinfection comes into contact with ammonia-producing substances such as sweat, body oil and urine. It produces a familiar, intense smell of chlorine that many people associate with chlorine and cleanliness, except that it’s not really chlorine, and it shows that hot tubs aren’t that clean.

Excess chloramines may be due to the poor chemical composition of the water, as well as a lack of chlorine to break the chloramines bond or signs of a lack of mineral water to be replaced regularly.

Regular testing of water for chlorine-free ingredients (FCI) can help you determine if your hot tub has a chloramine problem.

11 Steps to Cleaning a Hot Tub with Baking Soda

Now that you know how to identify a hot tub that needs cleaning and drainage, we’ll delve into our list of 10 steps to make it easier for you.

  1. Flushing Your Lines

If your hot tub has significant biofilm buildup, you may want to consider flushing the line first. If your lines only reintroduce the same bacteria into the water after you open the hot tub, there’s no need to drain and replace the water in the hot tub.

You may also be aware that the line needs to be flushed correctly if the pressure of the hot tub jet is lower than normal, or if the opposite pressure is too high. Making these lines disappear is fairly simple. You can buy online cleaning products from Amazon, such as Sealer Spa System Flushes.

To flush the pipes, you need to insert the cleaner into the hot tub and run the jet for about 30 minutes to allow sufficient and proper water to circulate through the piping system. In general, this type of cleaner is also useful for surface accumulation.

It is important to take precautions when flushing lines. If biofilms are not controlled at your hot tub, they can leave you and others who use the hot tub vulnerable to diseases such as Legionella, Staphylococcus aureus, and E. coli.

  1. Power Down

Now that your line has been flushed, you need to turn off your hot tub before continuing. Forgetting to turn it off can cause the hot tub pump to turn on when there is not enough water. This will damage the pump and filter. It is recommended that you directly close the hot tub at the circuit breaker to prevent the hot tub from accidentally opening during cleaning.

  1. Draining your Hot Tub

You can do this either manually with a hose connected to the drain or quickly with a submersible pump. The pump is the fastest way you can expect full drainage in less than an hour. If you simply let gravity work, you can connect a hose to a hot tub drain; however, you may have to wait several hours for the water to drain completely.

You should always check local regulations and restrictions on how to dispose of hot tub water. Occasionally, certain areas may allow mineral water, also known as “gray,” to drain directly to the ground. In addition, they may have problems pumping sewage into the sewer system.

Many have taken a more creative approach to their hot tubs, trying to be more environmentally friendly and conservative in their water. They can use hot tub water to water their car, water their lawn and garden, pour water into the pool, or throw it into their pet pool during the summer.

  1. Cleaning the Surface

Now that your hot tub is empty, it’s time to clean out the shell of your bathtub. You can use special hot tub cleaning towels or gloves, such as those you can find on Amazon. These cleaning gloves will make it easier to clean your hot tub surface and pre-moisten it.

If you choose to use your own towels or cloths, make sure that they do not scratch the shell of your hot tub. They should be soft and easy to wash with aqueous solutions.

Before cleaning, it is common to spray the shell with a hot tub cleaner, a mixture of white vinegar or diluted bleach. This will help soften algae and mound that have accumulated on the shell over time.

  1. Dealing with Problem Areas

You may encounter areas where scum or accumulated stains refuse to be removed. You’ve tried different detergents and solutions, but they fight hard. That’s where baking soda comes in to help get rid of these problems.

Creating a thick, pasty mixture of baking soda paste and water, apply baking soda generously to problem areas. Allow the baking soda to sit for a few moments so that its cleaning properties can work effectively against vermin. Use gloves, a damp cloth, or sponge to clean the baking soda mixture. If there is still some foam left, you can apply it again and start over.

Baking soda is an excellent alternative for use at home, as it is safe for your hot tub shell and eliminates the need for harsh chemical cleaners.

  1. Cleaning Filters or Purchase New Ones

The hot tub’s filters have probably accumulated a nice layer of algae, bacteria, oils, and organic compounds. They must be removed from the filter tank and cleaned properly to be effective. We have explained here how to thoroughly clean the hot tub filters.

Your hot tub’s filters will not last forever, so if you find your filters are getting harder and harder to clean, consider ordering new ones and replacing them completely.

If there isn’t much to clean, many can get away with by hosing them down and spinning them in a TSP solution. The recommended solution should be one cup of TSP in 5 gallons of hot water. You will need to rinse them with a hose to remove any remaining chemicals. You can then let them dry. If they are much dirtier, it is usually best to soak them in the solution overnight and then remove them to dry.

If your filter has an accumulation of calcium or mineral limestone, try soaking it in an acidic solution for a few hours to remove it. Then, you can continue soaking in the TSP solution by thoroughly flushing the strainer with a hose and drying it with air.

Please note the following points:

  • Do not try to clean the filters in the dishwasher. Some people say this method works, but it does more harm than good.
  • Do not use a pressure cleaner to clean the filter.
  • Do not use laundry detergent as a cleaning tool.

  1. Reinstalling the Filters

Make sure the hot tub filter container is clean and tidy before reinstalling the filter. Many people tend to forget this place when cleaning their hot tubs. If there is still water in the container, you can easily remove it with a store-bought vacuum cleaner. Once the container is completely clean, you can continue to reinstall the filter cartridge.

  1. Refill the Hot Tub with Water

The best way to fill your hot tub with water is to let it pass through the filter first. Simply place the hose into the hot tub’s strainer and let the water flow directly into the hot tub through the strainer. By filling your hot tub in this way, you reduce the possibility of airlocks in your hot tub.

When air is trapped in the bathtub, the hot tub airlock appears, preventing the water gun from working properly. If not repaired immediately, it will eventually cause unfortunate damage.

  1. Power Your Hot Tub Back On 

It’s important to use your ears to monitor performance when you turn on the hot tub. If there is a problem with the pump or filter during cleaning, your ear will tell you immediately. Let the hot tub run for at least 15 minutes while you listen.

  1. Treating Your Water with the Right Chemicals.

Please refer to your hot tub owner’s manual for proper chemical treatment of water. You’ll probably want to shock the water in your bathtub, add chlorine or bromine, and check the pH balance. During this time, you need to turn off the gas valves in your bathtub, as they may interfere with chemicals. Allow a 24-hour hot tub cycle with all chemicals until it reaches the right temperature for your comfort.

If you have a brine chlorination system, you want to test the salinity of the water because tap water already has some salinity variables, rather than oscillating the water, or adding chlorine or  bromine. So test your pH, alkalinity, and calcium to make sure they’re all in the right range. Add salt if necessary. Your chlorination system will take care of the rest after it’s up and running.

  1. Maintaining Your Hot Tub on a Regular Basis

Now you’re ready to enjoy your hot tub, but there are several steps you can take to avoid thorough empting and frequent cleaning. Consider practicing the following:

  • Once a week, add chlorine and bromine to your hot tub water to ensure proper disinfection. Or, in the case of saltwater springs, regularly test the chemical compatibility of your water. Also check if you need to replace your salt cells.
  • You should clean the hot tub’s filters once a week. To do this, simply take them out and hose them down. You can also spray them with cleaning fluid to clean them more thoroughly. After spraying, let them rest for 15 minutes before hosing them down and putting them back in the hot tub.

Be sure to remove all chemicals from the filter and rinse thoroughly with a water gun. You don’t want to introduce these chemicals into your mineral water because they can affect the chemical balance of the water.

  • To reduce organic compounds and body oils entering your hot tub, get in the habit of mandatory showers before anyone enters the hot tub. Quick flushing can help reduce the massive buildup of these two culprits.
  • Avoid drinking anything other than water at your hot tub. Pouring sodas, alcohol, and other beverages into the hot tub can disrupt the chemical balance and require further cleaning afterward.
  • When not in use, keep the hot tub covered to prevent debris, pollen, and other environmental pollutants from spilling out. This will also help keep small animals and insects such as birds, squirrels, and mosquitoes out of the water.
  • If you notice contaminants entering the water, remove them with a skimmer as soon as they appear.
  • Keep the pool cover clean. The hot tub cover protects your bathtub from environmental factors, but these factors can also accumulate on the cover. After a period of time, if the buildup is too much, it may accidentally enter the water after the cover is removed.


Can I Help You?

If I can help you in any way I would love to hear from you. You can get in touch using the form below.

Thanks - Andi


Hi, Andi here. I own and also write all of the articles and info pages on the site. Some years back now, I built my own hot tub but struggled to find the information I needed. So, once my tub was complete, I started this website to help others in their own pursuit of hot tub and plunge pools DIY building information.

Today, I've helped over 1000 DIY customers just like you all over the world build hot tubs and pools. Have a good look around the site, there are lots of resources here. Please do get in touch if I can help you. - Cheers, Andi

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