Reasons Your Hot Tub is Cloudy

While owning a hot tub is a great luxury that your family and friends are certain to appreciate, maintaining it can be tough. One problem that owners commonly find is cloudy water, leaving them wondering how to fix it — and whether it’s even safe to get in the water at that point.

Cloudy hot tub water is caused by insufficient cleaning, or a chemical imbalance. You should start by testing the the water and, if it seems fine, simply clean the tub thoroughly. You can also simply replace the water (which will probably include about 4-6hrs of reheating).

Let’s take a closer look at the issue of cloudy water in a hot tub, including the potential causes and solutions to the problem.

What Causes Cloudy Water in Hot Tubs?

Closeup of hot tub

Cloudy water in hot tubs can be caused by a few things, so it’s important to consider each option to find out exactly what the issue is.

Uneven Chemical Balance

The chemical balance of a hot tub can be easily thrown off if the tub isn’t maintained properly or due to heavy use. Before you go any further, you should check the pH levels of the water and the chlorine balance. You might find there’s a quick fix by adding more chemicals.

Residue in the Water

There’s always a chance something got into the water that isn’t meant to be there. For example, someone may have used aromatherapy products, such as epsom salts, that can cause foam and cloudiness. If this has happened, you’ll have to clean the hot tub to prevent the situation from getting any worse.

Lack of Cleaning

Even if you’re careful not to use the wrong substances in the water, residue can build up over time. Human bodies naturally shed bacteria as well as any cosmetics that may have been used earlier in the day, or even leftover laundry detergent from swimwear. 

Therefore, it’s important to keep up with the hot tub maintenance — and if you’ve fallen a bit behind, this might be why the water is cloudy.

Is a Cloudy Hot Tub Safe to Swim In?

Although getting in a cloudy hot tub isn’t likely to do any severe damage, it’s best to fix the problem first. If the cloudiness is due to a chemical imbalance, it could cause irritation to get in there without fixing it.

This could result in skin rashes and difficulty breathing, which can be very dangerous for children and those with respiratory issues.

If the chemical balance is fine, however, and the cloudiness is due to dirty water, you should still take the time to clean it before getting in. Although it may not be dangerous, it can still cause the same irritation and it likely won’t be as comfortable as before.

How Do You Fix Cloudy Water in Your Hot Tub?

The first thing you should do to fix cloudy water in your hot tub is to check the chemical balance, as adding chemicals or changing the pH levels is the easiest fix.

If there doesn’t seem to be an issue with either of these, then you can move on to cleaning the hot tub.

Put a jetline cleaner (on Amazon) into the water and run the pumps and jets for fifteen minutes. Let the water sit for an hour and then do it again before draining the hot tub completely using a hose or a sump pump.

You can then wipe the walls down with equal parts water and vinegar, making sure to clean around the jets too. While you’re in there, you should also check the filters. It’s very common for things to get caught in them, and they could be the cause of your cloudy water.

How to Prevent the Water From Becoming Cloudy

Besides fixing the cloudy water in your hot tub, it’s also important to prevent it from happening again in the future. You can do this with a few key steps.

Firstly, make sure you don’t bring any residue from shampoo, conditioner, or body wash into the hot tub. This can be achieved by rinsing thoroughly after a shower and making sure you don’t apply any skin products immediately prior to getting into the hot tub. It’s also a good idea to remove any make-up and rinse your face thoroughly.

You can also ensure you don’t bring laundry detergent into the tub by rinsing swimwear in cold water to wash it, rather than putting it in with the regular laundry.

Keep up with a regular cleaning schedule and never bring things into the hot tub that aren’t specifically manufactured for use in a spa. Regular bath bombs are never a good idea!

How to Check Your Hot Tub Filters

While cleaning your hot tub, you should also make sure to clean the filters. You can do this by removing them after the hot tub is drained, gently rotating them to get them out. The key is to never be too harsh with the filters, as this can damage them, and they aren’t cheap to replace.

Once you have the filter out, spray it down with water. Don’t use a pressure washer since this can damage them. Instead, use a gentle setting on the hose to get rid of any obvious residue and, if need be, brush it with a toothbrush. Don’t scrub too hard between the pleats.

Then it’s time for a cartridge bath. Get a plastic bucket and fill it with equal parts vinegar and water. Place the cartridge in it and let it soak for at least an hour — preferably overnight if you want to do a very thorough clean.

Once that’s done, you can take the cartridge out and rinse it down again with the hose just as you did before. Inspect the filter to ensure it’s clean before putting it back in the tub.

How to Check pH Levels

There are a few things you can use to check pH levels, like a digital reader or test strips (on Amazon). The pH should be between 7.2-7.8. 

If the level is lower or higher, you need to bring it back to the right level with chemicals. A sodium-bicarbonate product will bring the pH up, and a sodium-bisulfate product will bring it back down. There are pH Up and Down Kits (on Amazon) to help you out.

Determining if Chemicals Need to Be Added

Caucasian Men Using Chlorine Tabs in a Hot Tub Spa to Maintain Healthy and Quality Water in the Bathtub

The chlorine levels of your hot tub should be 3-5 mg/l at all times. If it’s any less, then you need to add more chlorine to the water. You can get chlorine in liquid and tablet form, though tablets are usually better since they have stabilizers in them.

Liquid also tends to evaporate in the hot sun so if you’re working on the pool during the day, tablets are preferred.

If your chlorine levels are already between 3 and 5 mg/l, then don’t add more — though you can choose to shock the hot tub with a chlorine-free product if you feel the water still needs to be sanitized. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Hot Tub?

If you want to prevent your hot tub water from becoming cloudy, you need to keep up with a cleaning schedule — but what should that look like?

For general maintenance, it should be every few days — especially with heavy use. Test the chlorine and pH levels a few times a week and scoop out any debris that’s gotten into the hot tub every couple of days for the best results. 

The filters should be cleaned roughly once a month, or up to every two weeks with heavy use.

As for a deep clean where you actually drain the tub and clean all components — that’s usually necessary every three months or so. Again, this is more of a guideline than a hard rule. If your tub looks like it needs to be cleaned, don’t hold off until the three-month mark.

As you get to know your hot tub, you’ll have a good idea of when you need to clean it. You should never stretch it too much more than the recommended time, as the build-up of bacteria and minerals can end up causing a lot of damage to the system and equipment, and even make the water unsafe.

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