How to Clean a Whirlpool Bathtub

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I love my whirlpool bathtub.

There is nothing more relaxing than a nice warm tub, jets massaging my aching muscles away.

A long time ago I joined a gym, not only for getting a good work out, but for the sauna and jacuzzi. Little did I know (then) that I was putting myself at risk for infection and disease.

Now I have my own work out equipment, sauna and a whirlpool tub. They’ve all paid for themselves in rest, relaxation and peace of mind.

I can work out in the comfort of my own home; relax in the sauna with a good book, then ease into bubbling warm water.

Because I have a whirlpool bathtub, I know the importance of keeping my tub clean. For the health of myself and my family, I clean mine regularly.

Why a Whirlpool Bathtub needs to be Cleaned

Most people don’t realize that bath water never completely drains from jetted tubs.

When you turn the jets back on for your next bath, there may be bacteria, skin cells, dirty water, and even traces of a slimy buildup called a biofilm that has built up from from the bacteria and germs from your previous baths will be discharged in your new clean bathwater.

Cleaning the system on a regular basis (based on how often you use the tub) will help your system run cleaner for a longer period of time.

What Causes Hazardous Bacteria

Bill Soukup, President, Scientific Biofilm Solutions states that jetted bathtubs have about 15 to 20 feet of plumbing lines that run underneath the tub where warm stagnant water remains after each bath; this makes it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold and mildew to grow.

Because waters sits, the inside of plumbing lines forms a slime – technically called biofilm. This biofilm must be cleaned and removed to insure the safety of tub users.

Biofilm is a complex living organism that provides protection; like an armored shield for bacteria, from chemicals such as vinegar, lemons, bleach, detergents, etc. It takes specialized cleaners to safely and effectively clean jetted tubs.

The Germs may Cause Serious Disease

The University of Bozeman’s Center for Biofilm Engineering has studies showing special chemicals must be used to effectively deal with biofilm.

University studies by Microbiologist Dr. Rita B. Moyes at Texas A & M University show that improperly cleaned jetted tubs have very high levels of bacteria.

“81 percent had fungi and 34 percent contained staphylococcus, which can cause deadly staph infections.”

She adds “such harmful bacteria can lead to numerous diseases, among them urinary tract infections, septicemia, pneumonia and several types of skin infections. Because of the aerosol mist created by the whirlpool action, microbes are forced into the lungs or open cuts. One type of bacteria, L. pneumophila, can cause Legionnaires Disease, of which 90 percent of all cases can be traced back to bacteria developed from a warm environment.”

“That’s probably because a hot tub or whirlpool as a source of infection can’t be clearly distinguished from other sources. An example might be when you develop a respiratory infection. The doctor can tell you that you do have a respiratory infection, but he or she can’t tell you how you got it.”

I cringe at the thought of all those I was exposed to while soaking in a Jacuzzi at the gym.

Oh Yuk!

How to Clean the Tub Surface

Many whirlpool tubs today are made of fiberglass or acrylic surfaces, which are pretty easy surfaces to clean. Simply use your favorite non-abrasive cleaner on the tubs surface to clean and remove soap scum and dirt.

  • Wipe on the cleaner with a cotton cloth or sponge to clean off soap scum and other surface dirt.
  • Rinse well and dry with a clean cloth.

If over time the surface of your tub has developed small superficial scratches or has become dulled, you can make it look new again by using a liquid polisher like Gel-Gloss.

Cleaning the Jets

What to keep in mind when purchasing a product for your jetted tub:

  • The product should be able to remove biofilm.
  • It must be designed to clean jetted tubs.
  • Look for a cleaner without excessive foaming or strong odors.
  • Some cleaners may take just a few minutes to effectively clean the tubs while others may take an hour or two.

General Cleaning

Fill the bathtub with warm water, covering the jets. Run the jets for at least 15 minutes. Drain the tub as usual.

Heavy Duty Cleaning -Flushing the Whirlpool System

Cleaning the jets of your whirlpool tub isn’t difficult, but it does take about half an hour of your time.

These are the steps the manufacturer of my tub recommends to clean my whirlpool bathtub.

  1. Fill the tub with warm water until the water level reaches about two inches above the jets.
  2. Run the system with the jets on for a few minutes.
  3. Add the jetted tub system cleaner according to manufacturers instructions.
  4. After the jets have had the chance to circulate the cleaning solution through the system, drain the tub.
  5. Refill and run clean water through the system for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Dry the tub surface.

Even though water will remain in the bathtub pipes until your next bath, the procedure will rinse away any dangerous germs, bacteria, soap scum, body oils, dead skin cells, mold, mildew and any other thing we don’t want in our bathtub.

Removing Mold, Mildew and Soap Scum from Jets

Use a long handled cotton swab or an old toothbrush dipped in vinegar to clean mildew and soap scum from around the jets. A good time to do this is after you have done a thorough cleaning of the inner workings of the bathtub.

Preventing Bacteria and Germs in your Jetted Whirlpool Tub

  1. Wipe down the tub after each use to remove soap scum and body oils.
  2. Depending on how often you use your tub, you should run the tub through a cleaning cycle after 5 baths or so.
  3. Manufacturers recommend to run fresh water through the jets after each bath to help remove soap scum, oils, hair, skin cells, etc.

That makes total sense to me!

A Job Well Done!

Considering how much we love a relaxing soak in the tub, the job is not so hard and the benefits are numerous.

Why don’t you treat yourself to a nice long soak right now? I think I will!

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