How Do I Get Rid of Bacteria in My Hot Tub?

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As a new hot tub owner, one of the things you’ve got to stay on top of is ensuring that the hot tub is not only clean but safe. But sometimes there are dangers in the water we can’t see like bacteria. So, how do I get rid of bacteria in my hot tub?

Here’s what I know, having owned 4 of them:

To get rid of the bacteria in a hot tub, maintain water chemistry weekly, clean and replace the filters on a set schedule, and use a biofilm cleaner before changing the water about every 3 months.

Don’t worry. I’ll get into all of the details of those steps below.

Even when a hot tub is being sanitized and shocked regularly, there are instances where it can be infected with bacteria!

Why? That and similar issues, such as how to even know your hot tub has bacteria, the kind of rash one could get from a hot tub…are some of what we’ll explore in the article.

Let’s get started…

How do I know if my hot tub has bacteria?

Slime, cloudy water, discolored water, and foul smells are some of the signs that bacteria could be in your hot tub. But the other way to notice is by having to add sanitizer or shock more often than before to maintain normal levels of chlorine or bromine.

In fact, most of the time, you won’t physically see bacteria in your hot tub.

This is because warm and moist environments are the kind of places where they thrive. And the plumbing and equipment are favorite places for biofilm to build up.

So as I mentioned, if you’ve been applying chlorine or bromine as you normally do, but to get normal readings on a test strip, you find yourself having to add it more often and/or in larger quantities, you have a biofilm problem.

So how do you get rid of biofilm buildup?

This is what I explored in a recent article of mine where I explained what’s happening and how to fix it. Luckily it’s quick and easy to get rid of, and I do a simple preventative measure every 3 months that keeps it from happening.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Does chlorine kill bacteria in hot tubs?

Chlorine is effective at killing bacteria found in hot tubs. However, chlorine does break down both from the heat of the water, and as it kills bacteria, the result turns into chloramines reducing its effectiveness.

So, why is that?

Chloramines are the by-product of chlorine attacking contaminants. That’s what produces a strong chlorine smell. If you smell that, it means your chlorine has been pretty much used up.

So not only is it time to add more, but we need to get rid of the chloramines. That’s why we add hot tub shock once a week. It converts those chloramines back into chlorine.

But how does it kill bacteria?

It kills off some pathogens in seconds, while it takes minutes, even days, before some are exterminated.

It kills E. coli in about a minute, Hepatitis A in 16 minutes, Giardia is resolved in 45 minutes, and it takes 10.6 days for cryptosporidium to die after exposure to chlorine.

How do I clean and disinfect my hot tub?

To completely clean a hot tub, take the following steps:

  • Turn off the power.
  • Remove the filters and rinse them thoroughly.
  • Drain the water with a hose or submersible pump
  • Use a wet/dry vac to remove any remaining standing water
  • Wipe down the hot tub shell with a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar
  • Briefly rinse the water & vinegar mixture off
  • Use a wet/dry vac to remove the rinse water
  • Refill the water with a garden hose
  • Turn the power back on once the water level is above the jets.
  • Test and add chemicals to the water as needed
  • Test it again before use

After you’re sure, the power has been turned off and removed the filters, add Oh Yuk Healthy Hot Tub Cleaner from Amazon before you drain the water.

That will get rid of any biofilm present in the water or plumbing.

Just add about 8 oz and allow it to circulate with the jets on for 1 hour before draining.

Thoroughly wipe down the hot tub to remove all the residue of Oh Yuk.

CLICK HERE to check out Oh Yuk Hot Tub Cleaner. It’s got over 320 ratings on Amazon, and most are 5-star.

Replace the filter and refill the hot tub with water. Test its pH and alkalinity, then add the right level of sanitizer.

Test the water again and always make sure the levels are good before getting in.

Can you soak in a hot tub if the chlorine level is high?

In a recent article of mine, I explained that it is not safe and that one should not!

Red, itchy skin and eyes, and respiratory issues are some of the side effects. But there’s 1 sure fire way to add sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) and be able to get in immediately!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What kind of rash can you get from a hot tub?

Pseudomonas Folliculitis is the most common rash one can get from a hot tub. It is caused by a germ, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, that’s commonly found in water or soil. Folliculitis thrives in warm and wet environments but is more commonly found in wooden tubs.

It’s an infection of the hair follicles (Folliculitis). (source)

Fortunately, it can’t be transmitted from person to person. It thrives in moist and warm environments, especially hot tubs that are not sanitized regularly.

The following are folks that are more susceptible to it:

  • Those whose immune systems are not strong enough or have been compromised
  • Those with dermatitis or acne, which makes it easy for bacteria to penetrate the skin
  • Those that have waxed or shaved recently

Its symptoms include itchy skin, and this may change to a bumpy red rash that may also be tender. Pus-filled blisters also surround the hair follicles.

The symptoms may vary depending on the individual. Some folks may also experience headaches, earaches, sore throat, and nausea.

It might be worse if you wore a swimsuit for a long time.

Water contained in it and contact with your skin may have bacteria in it. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a strong bacteria that is often resistant to chlorine.

The fact that you apply chlorine often does not mean it’s been exterminated!

So, how can you get Folliculitis out of your hot tub?

Luckily, I explained how in a recent article of mine. You could get rid of the biofilm, drain the water, thoroughly wipe down the tub with a mixture of water and white vinegar, refill with water, balance for pH and alkalinity, and add a sanitizer.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How often should you change the water in your hot tub?

As a general rule, hot tub water should be changed every 3-4 months. However, with proper water chemistry constantly maintained and less frequent usage, up to 6 months between changes can be acceptable.

But I change my water every 3 months. And I use that Oh Yuk! I mentioned to keep biofilm at bay every time I drain mine.

That just ensures my water stays crystal clear, bacteria-free, and always good to go.

What happens when the chlorine level in your tub is too low?

That’s what I explored in a recent article of mine. In it, I explained that the tub could become a host to bacteria if chlorine or bromine levels are low. As you know, that makes it gross and unsafe.

Just click the link to read it on my site.


A hot tub that’s sanitized and shocked regularly can still be infected with bacteria. 

In this article, we looked at how to know if a hot tub is infested with bacteria and whether chlorine kills bacteria. We also checked out how to clean and disinfect a hot tub and what kind of rash one could get from a hot tub. 

Lastly, we looked at how often hot tub water should be changed.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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