How to Get Detergent Out of Your Hot Tub – 3 Simple Steps

If you are suffering from foam in your hot tub water, you probably used too much soap when you cleaned it or didn’t rinse it off properly. Does that mean draining and refilling it? Not necessarily! Today, let’s learn how to get detergent out of your hot tub.

Here’s what I’ve done with my hot tub:

To remove detergent from a hot tub, first, scoop out all excess foam with a pool net. Then add a high dose of chlorine shock and run the jets for 1 hour, restarting the jets as needed. Then adjust pH and alkalinity if needed. Allow chlorine levels to drop to a safe level before entering which can take 1-2 days.

In this article, I’ll share with you some of the various things that can lead to foam build up in your hot tub, as detergent isn’t the only one.

Then we’ll look at some simple steps to get rid of it without having to drain it. Let’s dive in!

Does dish soap ruin a hot tub?

Dish soap itself does not ruin a hot tub, but the foam it creates can clog up the filter and is an indicator that the water is getting full of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) which can be problematic.

TDS are the contaminants that you, your family, and friends bring into the hot tub every time they use it.

Things such as:

  • Makeup
  • Deodorant
  • Body lotions
  • Oils
  • Shampoo
  • Sweat
  • Flaking skin
  • Hair
  • Other bodily fluids

all add to the TDS content of your hot tub.

And over time, these build up to a level where, when the jets are turned on, foam is created. Showering before entering your hot tub will go a long way to eliminating these, but there will always be some of these things in the water.

Hot tubs are not like a bathtub, and you must never add bubble bath, detergents, or soapy products to create that effect.

Only add products that are intended to be used in a hot tub, such as essential oils designed specifically for that purpose.

People love to add Epsom salts or aromatherapy products to the bath, but most of these products contain other oils that can be damaging to your hot tub.

However, in a recent article, I do explore a couple of alternatives that work great in the hot tub. Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do you get soap out of a hot tub?

To get soap out of a hot tub, add a large dose of chlorine shock and then run the jets for around an hour. Most hot tub jets will time out after 15 minutes, so turn them back on repeatedly over the hour. However, it may be 1-2 days before the chlorine levels drop to a safe level for soaking.

If you get soap in your spa water, it was probably introduced by someone who didn’t shower before getting in. Or maybe, they just innocently forgot to shower and used the hot tub like a bathtub.

Getting it out can be problematic. You could try shocking your tub as I suggested above. If the foam does not reappear, you have fixed the problem.

If the foam comes back, you should check to see if there is something else causing the problem. Chemical imbalance is the most likely cause. So remember to check and adjust pH and alkalinity too.

It would be best to shock your hot tub after heavy usage and at least once a week during regular use.

Also, rinse the filter off to remove any contaminants. This way, the chemicals act more effectively at keeping your water crystal clear.

Get everyone into the habit of showering before getting into the hot tub to remove makeup, deodorant, and body lotions.

Don’t forget your bathing suit as well – this will contain laundry soap as well as other products you might have applied to your skin beforehand.

How do I stop my hot tub from foaming?

To stop hot tub foam from reoccurring, rinse the filter, and check pH and alkalinity and sanitizer levels and adjust them as needed. You can also use a pool net to scoop out any excess foam.

If you have a problem with foam on the surface of the water, this usually indicates that there is a chemical imbalance and the pH is too high.

You should use test strips to check these levels – if the pH is greater than 7.8 ppm, then it is too high.

This can cause scale to form on filters, pipes, and jets. Alkalinity should be below 120 ppm; otherwise, the sanitizer won’t work effectively.

To lower alkalinity and pH, I like this product from Leisure Time on Amazon.

Just pour in 1/4 cup to start with. Start small as you can always add more. If you overdo it, then you’ll need to use a Spa Up product to raise the levels back up.

Another cause of foam could be the hardness of the water. Hardness refers to high levels of calcium in your water. High calcium levels can lead to fittings corroding, so it is crucial to check this too.

Not all test strips check for water hardness, but you’ll know if you have hard water if you see white flaky buildup around your shower head in one of your bathrooms.

Soft water isn’t great either; you want the water to be somewhere in between.

Luckily, Leisure Time’s Defender on Amazon works great to not only make your water less hard but also removes any scale buildup already there.

If you have a water softener fitted to your whole home, you should disconnect this before filling your hot tub or use a garden hose that is not connected to your water softener.

Foam in your hot tub can ultimately be caused by several things. I’ve covered the basics here, but in this recent article, I get into a few other possible causes including the 1 thing almost every hot tub owner does!

Just click on the link to read it here on my website.

Do I have to drain my hot tub to get rid of dish soap?

You do not have to drain the water in a hot tub to get rid of dish soap. But it also depends on how much soap is present in the water. First, scoop out any soap bubbles. Then over-chlorinate the water and run the jets continuing to scoop out soap bubbles as they form.

Then remove the filter and rinse with a hose or in the kitchen sink. Continue rinsing until no soap bubbles are present.

Always make sure to test chlorine levels before re-entering the hot tub.

If you way over-chlorinated the water to get rid of the soap, that can help to get rid of the soap, but it may take 1-2 days (or more) before the chlorine levels drop to a safe level for soaking.

But, if you already tried to follow these steps and are still unable to get rid of the dish soap, you have no alternative than to drain the tub and thoroughly clean it before refilling.

This is probably how you got dish soap in there in the first place so this time, make sure you rinse the tub thoroughly and wipe it down with a soft cloth before filling it again.

These days, I only wipe my hot tub’s shell with a mix of 50/50 water and white vinegar to avoid getting soap or detergent in the hot tub’s water.

What is the best cleaner for a hot tub? 

The best thing to clean a hot tub shell is a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water. For tough stains, mix 1-2 tsp of baking soda to create a paste, rub it in, and wipe it down with vinegar and water.

But you can use dish soap to clean your hot tub.

In fact, I wrote about that in a recent article. You just have to be sure to remove all of it before refilling. Otherwise, you will get foam on the surface of the water. Just click that link to read exactly how to do it on my website.

Ordinary household products such as Windex can also be used to clean your hot tub.

Once you’ve emptied your tub, spray the surfaces with Windex (other similar cleaning products work just as well). Then, wipe clean with a soft cloth or towel. Hose down the surfaces to remove any bits from the cloth and leave to dry or wipe down with a sponge.

Just mix equal amounts in a bowl and scrub with a non-abrasive cloth or sponge. 

You can also pour the vinegar and water solution into a spray bottle and use it as you would with Windex.

Did I cover everything you wanted to know about how to get detergent out of your hot tub?

So now you know how to get detergent out of your hot tub and how best to clean it.

Regular checking of pH, alkalinity, and hardness and adjusting the levels as necessary will help keep your water in good condition and increase the life of your hot tub.

If you can maintain the quality of your water, you shouldn’t have to change it so often – maybe only 2 or 3 times a year. I addressed this in a recent article, which you can read here on my site if you click on the link.

If there is anything I missed or you have any questions on this subject, just drop me a line, and I will do my best to answer it. And don’t forget to check out the other related articles here on my site. 

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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