Whether you’re reopening your hot tub for the cold months ahead or ready for a relaxing soak after a long workday, the last thing you want to find is hot tub slime, or biofilm.
Hot tubs and spas are designed for relaxation and comfort. But, when hot tub slime begins to form, your at-home oasis can quickly become a maintenance headache. The good news is that this hot tub biofilm slime can be prevented by incorporating simple cleaning tasks into your maintenance routine.
What Causes Biofilm Slime in Hot Tubs?
Hot tub biofilm slime is a combination of bacteria and other microorganisms that attach to hot tub surfaces. These microorganisms cover themselves in a protective layer that’s resistant to disinfectants, like chlorine or bromine, resulting in an odorous scum-like substance that floats in the water.
Unfortunately, hot tubs are perfect for biofilm growth because the plumbing provides a dark, warm (>90°F) and moist environment. When biofilm dries on hot tub surfaces, it goes into a dormant state that’s reactivated when in contact with water again.
This slime-like biofilm can cause cloudy water – or worse – floating debris in the water. Improperly maintained and disinfected hot tubs are more suspectable to biofilm growth. Generally, hot tub biofilm comes from contaminants introduced by the people bathing, such as skin oils, deodorants, lotions and perfumes. Older or damaged filters, imbalanced water and ineffective sanitation can also lead to the formation of hot tub slime.
If left neglected, biofilm can have severe negative consequences on your hot tub. In addition to clogging your hot tub’s plumbing, biofilm can harbor bacteria colonies. Additionally, once biofilm takes hold, it is very difficult to get rid of, so it’s key to prevent it in the first place.
How To Get Rid of Hot Tub Biofilm
1. Spa purge products
To prevent biofilm from forming you can incorporate specific spa products that help mitigate and eliminate the potential of slime. Spa purge products work well in the spa plumbing as a cleaner activating a foaming agent that lifts the biofilm from the surfaces of the plumbing. The purge product is added with the jets running for several cycles, allowing for proper circulation through the entire plumbing system. Several treatments may be necessary in extreme cases. Closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions, step by step.
2. All-surface cleaner
To apply an all-surface cleaner, you’ll first want to completely empty your hot tub. Then, scrub your hot tub surfaces well with an all-surface cleaner. Make sure you clean every part of the tub including the floor and the jets. You want it to be as clean as possible to make sure the biofilm does not grow back. Upon completion, fill up the spa or tub with water.
3. Filter cleaner
You can also clean your filters to combat biofilm by soaking them in a chemical cleaner made specifically for hot tub filters such as Ahh-some. Generally for a few hours or for best results, overnight.
How To Prevent Hot Tub Biofilm
The best way to deal with hot tub biofilm is to be proactive and not reactive. You can prevent hot tub slim with regularly scheduled maintenance, cleaning and sanitizing.
Utilizing spa and hot tub products such as Aquafinesse, and Natural Chemistry’s Spa Perfect weekly will break down the protective layer that covers the bacteria and will assist to slow the formation of the biofilm. As mentioned above, spa purge products like Ahh-Some should be used at least once a year.
A little proactive maintenance can go a long way in preventing a problem that requires more hassle if left untreated. Follow these additional steps to avoid biofilm growth and keep your spa clean and healthy
1. Balance your water
- Test and balance your water once a week to determine pH and alkalinity levels.
- Aim for a pH level of 7.2 to 7.4. Anything below this level will be too acidic, while higher levels reduce your sanitizer’s effectiveness and can cause cloudiness. For more information on balancing pH levels, take a look at our pH blog post.
- General alkalinity for spas is 60 to 120 ppm but it’s best to contact your spa manufacturer for correct levels as spas are constructed from many different types of material.
- Add a sanitizer and test for the suggested level of ppm for your spa or hot tub.
2. Shock weekly
- A weekly shock with your choice of sanitizer will prevent bacteria and microorganisms from building up in the spa plumbing.
3. Clean the filter
- A clean filter is essential for water clarity. Rinse the filter every 1 to 2 weeks with water, and use a chemical rinse once a month for a deeper clean.
4. Cover your spa when not in use
- Covering your spa when it’s not being used will prevent debris, animals and rainwater from getting into your spa or hot tub and will keep the water much cleaner and clearer.
5. Drain and clean periodically
- By draining and cleaning your hot tub every 3 to 4 months, you can prevent chemical buildup and other problems that can come from waiting too long in between cleanings.
6. Upgrade your water with additional protection
- Supplementary sanitation such as Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP) systems are a great way to keep your spa water clean, clear and fresh. AOP spa systems produce hydroxyl radicals which oxidize your spa water destroying contaminants on contact. They can allow you to reduce the need for chlorine in your spa and will protect against chlorine-resistant parasites, such as Cryptosporidium.
Clear Comfort’s award-winning AOP systems consistently deliver fresh, healthy water and are built to last the lifetime of your hot tub. To upgrade your spa relaxation with Clear Comfort, click here to find out more information today.