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Hot Tub Chemicals 101: The Complete Guide for Beginner’s

What more could you want or need, than a hot tub to help you relax after a long hectic day?

Yet, you must maintain a clean and well-disinfected hot tub. Otherwise, poorly maintained hot tubs are a health risk. Poorly disinfected hot tubs can harbor microorganisms which can cause Urinary Tract Infections and skin infections. But how do you clean and disinfect your hot tub?

What hot tub chemicals should you use? Read this complete guide for beginners.

The Importance of Hot Tub Maintenance

Besides the bubbly warm water helping with aches and pains, hot tubs can also help with the management of pain resulting from fibromyalgia, lower back pain, and arthritis. Additionally, hot tubs promote relaxation, good sleep patterns and can even help to reduce stress!

The heat from the warm water in the hot tub also enlarges your blood vessels and promotes good blood flow. Blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to different parts of your body, thus resulting in a whole-body benefit to your health.

Regularly using a hot tub can even help to loosen your tight muscles and reduce your inflammation. Besides, the water’s buoyancy can take the weight off your painful joints.

These health benefits simply cannot be enjoyed if your hot tub is not maintained properly and regularly. Along with these important health benefits, other important reasons to properly care for your hot tub can include:

  • Creating a safe environment for family and friends
  • Prolonging the longevity of your spa and extending the life span
  • Boosting the overall quality of your spa
  • Save money with fewer costly repairs

Caring for your investment can truly pay off for many years to come. Now that we better understand the importance of hot tub maintenance, let’s find out which hot tub chemicals you will need to make it happen and get the job done right!

Hot Tub Chemicals

Hot tub chemicals are substances that you use to clean and disinfect your hot tub. These chemicals are different, but serve the main purpose of sanitizing and cleaning your spa.

The best hot tub chemicals to have can include:


Bromine is a preferable sanitizer for your hot tub. It doesn’t oxidize, and hence, doesn’t release chloramines.

Bromine ionizes the contaminants in your hot tub and breaks them apart at their molecular levels. But it’s important to keep in mind that bromine also releases bromamines, which can reduce your sanitizer’s effectiveness. So, you must keep your hot tub’s bromine levels steady at between 3ppm and 5ppm. The steady levels help to reduce their release of Bromamines.

With bromine, it’s recommended for use within a hot tub that is either indoors or not installed in direct sunlight, as the sunlight can burn it off quickly.


Chlorine is an effective sanitizer and shock treatment for your hot tub. It creates a hostile environment for bacteria, microbes, and fungi, making it difficult for these contaminants to survive.

Chlorine oxidizes and breaks down into its chemical components. Although it releases chloramines, which can result in the “chlorine scent” the chlorine smell while in the hot tub, if you maintain the ideal chlorine levels of 1ppm to 3ppm, you’ll eliminate the smell of chloramines. For this reason (among many others) is why it is so important to regularly test and monitor your water for appropriate chlorine levels!


Biguanides are non-chlorine-based sanitizers for your hot tub.

Biguanides help to reduce, if not eliminate, bacteria and other germs that might inhabit your hot tub, but you don’t need to use as frequently as bromine and chlorine, as it tends to last for longer periods of time.

Likewise, it’s odorless and results in smoother feeling water. One downside is that this hot tub chemical can deteriorate the rubber gaskets and other plastics in your hot tub. So, contact your hot tub manufacturer before using Biguanide to ensure the safety and quality of your spa. Also, ensure you use the appropriate Biguanide levels of 30ppm to 50ppm.


Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate cause and effects to eliminate non-living organic elements from your hot tub. Additionally, enzymes break down body lotion and body oil, bodily fluids and cosmetics.

As a result,  enzymes can reduce the quantity of sanitizer you’ll need to maintain the safety of your hot tub.

Salt Systems

If you have a saltwater hot tub, you’ll need salt systems for maintenance and care.  Your saltwater hot tub uses a salt-chlorine generator to convert the salt to chlorine.

So, you’ll buy salt in place of chlorine. Salt systems make your hot tub’s water gentler on your eyes and softer on your skin and hair.

The proper salt systems level for your saltwater hot tub is 2500ppm. And for your saltwater hot tub’s chlorine level, you must have 1ppm to 3ppm.

Filter Cleaner

Filter cleaners are used to help your hot tub stay dirt-free by giving the filter a deep cleansing. While we recommend rising your hot tub filter with water, either from the hose or a large sink, a deeper clean should be performed once a month while the spa is in use.

Cleaning your filter will depend on the manufacturers instructions and the kind of filter cleaner that you are using. Generally, the steps are as follows:

  1. Remove the filter from your spa and replace with a back-up filter to ensure a seamless transition and smooth operation while cleaning.
  2. Fill a bucket with the appropriate amount of filter cleaner and dilute with water, following the instructions carefully.
  3. Rinse your filter with water from the hose or sink, using a filter flosser if possible.
  4. Place the filter inside the bucket and allow it to soak for at least 1-2 hours, if not overnight.
  5. Remove filter from the bucket and give it a deep cleaning with water, a soft brush and filter flosser.
  6. Allow your filter to dry, ensure that it has been fully cleaned and then swap with the back-up filter.
  7. Enjoy your spa!

We recommend replacing your filter annually to ensure a clean and safe hot tub experience.

Water Clarifiers

A water clarifier can help to clear up water in your hot tub. While it may help you to temporarily fix your cloudy water, you’ll still need a sanitizer to kill germs.

Again, a water clarifier is temporary. If not cleaned and maintained properly with the correct hot tub chemicals, the water will likely return to the previous state once the water clarifier fades.

pH Balancer

pH levels are used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of the water in your hot tub. To ensure properly balanced water, you will need to regularly check the pH levels and adjust using pH up or pH down products. An imbalance of pH levels can damage your hot tub due to excess acidity. And high alkalinity can result in scaling, which can also damage your hot tub.

When the PH is too high, you’ll need a pH decrease. Besides, high pH above 7.6. Again, if your pH is too low, you’ll need a pH increase. The pH increase will raise your hot tub’s alkalinity.

Plumbing Cleaners

A plumbing cleaner is a flush that you can use to remove scale, biofilms, grime, deposits, and oily residues from your hot tub. A plumbing cleaner can also remove organic contaminants, minerals, and chemical elements from your hot tub.

Hot Tub Shock

A hot tub shock is an oxidizer to help restore your hot tub’s clarity and quality. A shock can be a chlorine or non-chlorine treatment to help clear contamination from your hot tub as needed.

How Often to Clean Your Hot Tub

You should clean your hot tub based on how frequently you use it. Here are some simple guidelines that you can follow!


  • Test the water
  • Treat with hot tub chemicals as needed
  • Wipe down the cover
  • Rinse the filter


  • Inspect the exterior of your hot tub for damage or leaks
  • Give the filter a deep cleaning
  • Give the cover a deeper cleaning


  • Request a professional hot tub service appointment for well-rounded care
  • Drain, clean and refill your hot tub completely to start fresh


  • Replace the hot tub filter
  • Request a professional hot tub service appointment for well-rounded care

7 Signs to Look For That Your Spa Requires Cleaning or Maintenance

You can tell that your hot tub needs cleaning or maintenance if you notice the following signs:

1. Noxious Water

Does your hot tub’s water smell bad despite you regularly maintaining it? Something is perhaps wrong, even if you’ve been applying relevant chemicals.

Your hot tub could be having poor circulation. The hot tub’s drains, pump, and filter can get clogged preventing circulation in the hot tub. If you experience this, you need to contact a hot tub expert for service and repair.

2. Misty Water

If you regularly maintain, sanitize, and clean your hot tub your water should be clear. Hence, if the water is foggy you need a professional to test it and ascertain the problem.

You could also drain the water, clean the spa and thoroughly rinse your filters. And if the problem persists, seek a specialist’s help.

3. Algae

Sunlight promotes algae growth. So if you don’t cover your outdoor hot tub, be ready to battle algae.

Fortunately, you can prevent algae from growing in your hot tub with a hot tub cover. Likewise, you can keep algae away with a weekly regular cleaning plan.

Regular cleaning keeps your water sanitized and balanced. Besides, an imbalance pH level in your hot tub creates a suitable environment for algae formation.

Again, if you regularly shock and sanitize your hot tub but still find algae, you need professional help. You can take your hot tub sample to an expert for analysis. The expert can help check your hot tub’s chemical balance.

4. Cold Water

A colder hot tub is also an indication your hot tub requires maintenance and cleaning. You could be having a thermostat problem or issues with your hot tub’s circulation system.

So, confirm that you’ve plugged in your hot tub and the heater is on. And if your hot tub won’t still warm the water, you need an expert to fix it.

5. Faulty Jets

Malfunctioning jets indicate a serious hot tub problem. Although you can fix this issue by maintaining the ideal water levels in your hot tub.

Also, check the drainage system to ensure it’s intact and isn’t letting water escape. And if you notice a [problem with your hot tub’s pump, the control panel, or valves, contact a specialist for advanced maintenance.

6. Leaks

If your hot tub has cracks or holes, it will leak in the plumbing or in the tub itself. Again, you might not fix a hot tub’s leak so contact a professional soonest.

7. Control Panel Issues

Error codes on your hot tub’s control panel signify a problem. It could be that the pressure switch isn’t functioning accordingly or the circulation pump isn’t working. Yet, with some electric skills, you can fix the error. Otherwise, you may want to seek professional intervention.

Preventative Measures to Keep the Hot Tub’s Water Clean

Let’s see how you can keep your spa water clean.

Keep Oils and Contaminants Out

Showering before entering the hot tub can help keep oils away from the spa. Likewise, cleaning your feet before entering the spa can keep contaminants away from the hot tub.

The procedures can keep your spa germ-free and reduce the need for professional care, intervention or maintenance.

Change Your Hot Tub Water

Draining your hot tub every three to four months helps remove unwanted chemicals and elements. The elements would otherwise increase your operational expenses or even damage your hot tub’s cover.

Regularly Use Hot Tub Chemicals

Check your hot tub’s chemical levels daily before using the hot tub. And adjust them to the level your manufacturer recommends. Additionally, keep the PH balanced to avoid the development of algae and other microorganisms.

Clean Your Filters

Clean your filter weekly to remove contaminants from your hot tub. You may also want to remove any bugs or floating debris, and use a chemical kit to balance your hot tub’s chemical levels.

Hot Tub Chemicals at Gary Pools & Leisure

Hot tubs are therapeutic. But, failure to understand its maintenance can be costly and risky instead. So, understand the chemicals you need to sanitize your hot tub and to clean it. Also, understand all the preventative measures you should take to prevent your hot tub’s contamination. Additionally, beware of the signs of a faulty hot tub to help you take the necessary steps early enough.

Lastly, understand your maintenance schedule and stick to it. Sticking to your maintenance schedule will protect your health, optimize your comfort, and spare you unnecessary expenses.

And when you need professional intervention, Gary Pools & Leisure is a professional partner you can trust. Contact our team of experts at Gary Pools & Leisure for help with maintaining your spa and related services!