You should change the water in your portable hot tub every 3-4 months regardless of how clean and water looks because harmful bacteria can eventually start growing in seams and crevasses. Also, the chlorine that you add to the tub to kill bacteria remains in the water and breaks down into potentially harmful chemicals. At the four-month mark, whenever you drain your tub, all of the chlorine that you have been adding for the past four months will still be in the tub water in some broken down form. This is what causes the unnatural acidic odor that you may start smelling after a couple of months. Too much broken down chlorine can he unhealthy so it is important to replace your water every few months. This is especially important for people soaking for the health benefits, because dirty water can undermine the positive effects.
Flush your tubes
Before you drain your water, you should take advantage of the fact that this water won’t have any people in it, so you can add sanitizing chemicals that should not be added to soaking water. You should add a flushing product like Spa Purge to kill bacteria in the pump and jet ducts. Whenever you feel any kind of slime in an aquatic environment, you are touching biofilm, which is a breeding ground for bacteria. Biofilm can be easily removed with soap and a rag, but it isn’t possible to take a rag to the internal mechanical components of an inflatable spa, so this biofilm usually remains in tact with living bacteria such as Legionella, Pseudomonas Aeruginosas, Mycobacterium Fortuitum, and E-Coli. Spa Purge, or other similar products, will remove this slime and kill the bacteria whenever it comes into contact with the biofilm, even if you are not able to apply friction to the area with a rag. The best inflatable hot tubs have jets, which are also components that you won’t be able to clean with a vacuum.
If you don’t apply any type of line flushing product, and add new water to a tub that still has biofilm, the biofilm will spread back into the clean cistern, making all of the hard cleaning work that you did in the tub irrelevant. If you soak in bacteria-infested tub water, you may experience red, itchy skin, or in more severe cases folliculitis.
Add the purging product to the water and run the heat pump and jets for 2 hours. This will give the chemical enough time to thoroughly remove the biofilm and kill the bacteria. After the two hour purging application, your water is ready to be drained. The purging chemical shouldn’t be used in water that will be used by humans, and your tub water now contains dead bacteria, so it is now important to drain your tub at this point.
Blow up hot tubs have a drain cap on the bottom of the tub. So, all you need to do is open this cap to drain the water. The water can be safely drained onto grass, or a wooden deck. It won’t kill the grass and it won’t discolor your deck. You should be careful to not drain it near delicate plants, though, because they might not do well with chlorinated water. Once the water is drained, you can climb into your tub and change the filters. Manufacturers suggest that you inspect the filters every week and change them as necessary. By the 3-4 month mark, if you haven’t changed your filter, it is important that you do so because the built up residue in the filters will cause strain on the pump. Changing your filters will actualy decrease the amount of energy that your pump needs to process water and reduce your inflatable hot tubs electricity consumption.
Since your tub is already deflated, you can use this time to add air to it. If it has been 3-4 months since your last cleaning and inflation, your tub walls might have lost some of air pressure. Use this time to add any additional air that the tub might need. Use the air pump from the hub to inflate your tub to the desired pressure.
Clean the tub
They make hot tub cleaning chemicals specifically made for cleaning the walls of your tub, but if you don’t want to spend the additional money you can also use other household cleaning products. If you are looking for a natural alternative, you can mix white vinegar with water, which does a good job of disinfecting. The only drawback to the white vinegar solution is that it doesn’t kill some of the less common, but equally dangerous, types of bacteria, so we recommend you use a stronger chemical at least twice a year. You have to be careful though, because using a strong chemical like bleach will kill bacteria, but it will also be harmful if you leave some in the tub and wind up soaking in it. This is the reason that we suggest the hot tub cleaning chemicals. If a little of this winds up getting left in the cistern, it won’t cause any damage when you fill the tub back up and start soaking again.
When you are cleaning, it is very important to clean the seams. These are the areas where bacteria form most often. If you run your finger along the air jet along the seam between the ground and the portable jacuzzi wall, you will probably feel some of the biofilm that we were explaining earlier. Use a rag and make sure you clean all seams, cracks and crevasses.
Be wary of abrasive cleaning products like Ajax, Comet, SoftScrub, etc. These cleaning products will damage the acrylic walls of a traditional hot tub, and also be bad for the internal components if any is left in the water that eventually goes back into the pump.
Once you are satisfied that the tub is clean, you can rinse the tub. This is an important step because you don’t want any of the cleaning products to remain in the tub when you refill it. They are unhealthy to soak in and can cause deterioration to the internal mechanical components of the pump.
Inflatable jacuzzis are light enough to lift and prop against a wall. I like to prop the tub up so that all of the water runs down to the drain and use a hose to spray the inside of the tub walls. Make sure you spray along all seams and in the crevasses because the cleaning chemicals can remain in these areas just like the biofilm can.
Refill your tub
Once the tub is rinsed close the drain, move the tub back to the location that it will remain, and fill it back up. There aren’t really any special instructions for filling your inflatable spas. I use hose water. Hose water has impurities such as calcium, copper, and iron, but some of the best inflatable spas often come with hard water removal systems that remove these impurities during the filtration process. Even if your tub doesn’t have a hard water system, these impurities are not harmful and the filter will remove most of them anyway.
Fill your tub up to the max-fill line and turn the pump on. Let the pump run for about half an hour to mix up the water properly, and then test the pH level with pH test strips. Manufacturers recommend a pH level between 7.4 and 7.6, total alkalinity to be around 80 ppm, and your calcium hardness should be around 100 ppm. If your pH or alkalinity levels aren’t within these ranges, use a product like pH increaser or pH decreaser to adjust it accordingly.
Once your pH and alkalinity levels are within the appropriate ranges, you should shock the water to remove any odor or cloudiness. Shocking the water breaks down organic waste contaminants inside the water which prolongs the period of time that bacteria won’t grow. You can use a product like Leisure Time to shock your water.
Heat the water
Once you shock the water, you can replace the cover, and turn the heater on. Inflatable tubs typically heat water at a rate of 2-3 degrees F/hr so this might take a day or two.
Preventative maintenance is the best way to prolong the life of your inflatable hot tub. Cleaning your hot tub every 3-4 months is a good way to promote healthy water and reduce the risk of illness due to bacteria or unbroken down sanitization chemicals. Take the time to drain and thoroughly clean your inflatable spa once per season, and you will be able to soak confidently knowing that the water you are laying in is bacteria-free!