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10 Essential Hot Tub Cleaning Supplies

Get years of enjoyment from your hot tub by sticking to a cleaning and maintenance schedule and keeping these hot tub cleaning supplies on hand.

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Hot Tub Cleaning Supplies Bill Oxford/Getty Images

Why Hot Tub Cleaning Is Important

Your hot tub may be a year-round source of fun and relaxation, but it’s not maintenance-free. Pros recommend that you drain your hot tub quarterly, and use the occasion for a deep cleaning and maintenance check.

But even when the hot tub is full and used often, a regular cleaning schedule, including water quality testing, is a must. Skip cleaning and maintenance, and you could run into one or more of the following problems:

  • Algae blooms, caused by pH imbalance and insufficient sanitization chemicals;
  • Cloudy water, caused by low pH/high alkalinity;
  • Foamy water, caused by detergents, sunscreen, shampoos and other substances introduced on clothes and skin;
  • White water mold, bacteria that grows in hot tub plumbing;
  • Dirty filters, which lead to dirty water;
  • Damaged pump, as a result of dirty filters;
  • Damage to the hot tub shell, which you might not see if you don’t drain the water periodically.

Don’t let your hot tub deteriorate from poor maintenance. Keep it clean and looking great by stocking up on these 10 essential hot tub cleaning supplies.

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Test Strips

You need to use chemical test strips at least a few times a week to test water quality and adjust as needed. If you and your family are using the hot tub daily or close to it, test more frequently.

Most strips test for multiple water measures, so you know exactly which chemicals you need to adjust. These six-in-one strips test for total water hardness, free chlorine, bromine, total chlorine, alkalinity and pH.

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Surface Cleaner

Whether your hot tub is made of hard fiberglass or inflatable heavy-duty vinyl, the surface needs regular cleaning.

For everyday cleaning of the top edge of your hot tub and along the water line, try a spray surface cleaner like this product from EcoOne, which will also work on all types of hot tubs. When you’re ready to drain your hard surface tub for a deeper cleaning, aptly named Oh Yuk Healthy Hot Tub Cleaner will get rid of surface residue.

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Want more options? These are our top picks for the best hot tub cleaners in the market.

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Brush, Scrubber and Skimmer Net

Your hot tub cleaning kit should include these basic tools: a cleaning brush, scrubber sponge and small skimmer net for fishing out leaves, bugs and other foreign objects. You can buy these items separately, but they’re also sold as a convenient kit.

Use the curved brush for cleaning the inside walls of the hot tub, including under the water level, and the scrubber sponge for built-up dirt like sunscreen residue.

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Hot tub sanitizer kills bacteria and viruses in the water, and can also deter algae growth. There are two kinds of hot tub sanitizer, chlorine or bromine, and a hot tub is treated with one or the other — not both.

Chlorine, or sodium dichlor, is sold as granuals dumped directly into the water. It also serves as an oxidizer, or “shock,” when you need to rapidly rebalance pools or hot tubs. Bromine is a sanitizer that’s usually sold in tablet form and dispersed in a floating dispenser. But to shock a bromine hot tub, you need to add monopersulfate (MPS) to the water.

Treating with sodium dichlor typically means you can’t use the hot tub for 24 hours afterward, but it’s a much more powerful sanitizer/oxidizer. Treating with the bromine/MPS combo is a gentler but costlier method, and the hot tub can be used after 20 minutes.

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Sequestering Agent

According to Master Spas, a sequestering agent (also called stain and scale) is a necessary chemical additive that removes calcium and heavy metals from your water. They recommend you add it every time you refill the hot tub. You should also use it if you notice your hot tub water is turning brown, red, orange or green.

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pH Adjusters

What’s the magic number for your hot tub? Between 7.2 and 7.8. That’s what the pH reading — the measure of alkalinity or acidity — in your pool or hot tub water should be.

Water that’s low pH is too acidic, possibly causing itchiness and irritation and damaging swimwear. Water that’s too high is alkaline, leading to calcium build up, cloudy water and potentially eye and skin irritation. You’ll need two products, a pH increaser and a pH decreaser. Both can be added directly to the water.

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Filter Cleaner and Comb

Your hot tub filter needs to be rinsed about once a week, and more deeply cleaned every few months — it’s convenient to do it when you do a water change. You need a cleaning solvent specially formulated for hot tub filters.

Filters are accordion pleated and tough to clean in those tight folds. So we recommend a hot tub filter cleaner comb, and a hose attachment with a spray pattern that can reach down into the filter to rinse it out after it’s soaked in cleaning solvent.

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Cover Cleaner

Your outdoor hot tub cover takes a beating from sun, dust, bird droppings, you name it. And the underside that sits over a tub full of hot water is a breeding ground for mold. Take care of both sides with a hot tub cover cleaner.

Outback Pools and Spas in Wichita Falls, Texas, says you can usually get away with just rinsing the underside of the cover with a hose, but recommends you use a vinyl cleaner and conditioner for the top. Outback also says you can clean the top of the cover with a vinegar and water solution.

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Calcium Hardness Increaser

An imbalance of calcium and magnesium in your hot tub will make the water foamy or cloudy, according to Master Spas, and could potentially damage the hot tub’s metal components. Calcium hardness is usually a measure on test strips, so you’ll want to keep a calcium hardness increaser in your hot tub toolkit.

Matt Harper of says that a hot tub’s calcium hardness reading should be between 80 and 200 parts per million (ppm). If the calcium reading is too high, you can treat with a sequestering agent (see above).

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Pipe Cleaner

Before you change the hot tub water, use a concentrated hot tub pipe cleaner to clean all the stuff you can’t see, like oil, grease and white water mold from inside the pipes. The cleaner is added to a full hot tub and allowed to filter through the system before the hot tub is drained and rinsed.

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