4 Household Chemicals You Can Safely Use in Your Hot Tub

Jennifer Rhodes

By Jennifer Rhodes · Updated

4 Household Chemicals You Can Safely Use in Your Hot Tub

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Are you looking for a way to keep your hot tub sparkling clean without breaking the bank? Or maybe you ran out of your regular product and are looking for an alternative chemical you can use in a pinch.

Well, there are actually quite a few household products that you can use for hot tub maintenance. Not all of them are good long-term solutions, but they can be useful for those times when you have nothing better—and most importantly, you already have most of them around your house!

So, here are 4 household chemicals that are safe to use in your hot tub.

1. Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the most useful household chemicals to have on hand when it comes to keeping your hot tub in tip-top shape. From cleaning and disinfecting the hot tub cover to removing mild stains or temporarily lowering pH levels, vinegar is an easy and effective option.

Using vinegar to lower pH

If your hot tub's pH gets out of whack, you may be able to temporarily use vinegar to bring the pH back to a healthy level. While not the best long-term solution, using vinegar to lower pH in a hot tub is relatively easy and cost effective.

To do this, simply add 4 cups of white vinegar to the water and let it sit for a while with the water circulating. The acidity will naturally lower the pH balance.

It's important to remember to check the pH levels often (every 1-3 days is recommended) to make sure they don't go too far in either direction.

Using vinegar to clean a hot tub

Using vinegar to clean your hot tub can be a good way to get several parts of your spa looking their best:

  • Cleaning the spa cover: Add one cup of white vinegar to one cup of warm water and scrub the hot tub cover with a soft cloth or brush. This simple vinegar and water solution can clean dirt off your hot tub cover without the need for any harsh chemicals.
  • Cleaning the filter: Give your hot tub filter a thorough cleaning every few months. You can combine equal parts white vinegar and warm water and soak the filter for about 2 hours. Rinse with fresh water and allow to dry before reinstalling.
  • Stain removal: For any minor stains on the surface of the hot tub shell, mix one cup of white vinegar with one cup of warm water in a spray bottle. Apply directly to the stain and wipe with a soft cloth.

See? You can get a long way with just a simple vinegar-water solution.

Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 vinegar solution and keep it handy, that way it'll always be ready when you need it.

And don't forget, vinegar is all natural so you don't have to worry about any harsh chemicals and it's super effective at cleaning.

2. Baking soda

When it comes to building and maintaining total alkalinity, I highly recommend baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate is already the main ingredient in many 'alkalinity up' products, and it's also an incredibly cheap and easy way to get the job done!

Maintaining total alkalinity is essential for hot tub health. It helps to keep the pH level stable, which in turn prevents scaling, cloudiness, and other issues that weaken the integrity of the water balance and may cause damage over time.

Baking soda is a reliable way to raise TA, and if you buy it in bulk, you can save yourself money too.

Keep in mind that you’ll also need to buy a test kit (see my thoughts on the best one here) to check the alkalinity levels regularly. Without it, you’ll be guessing your way through the process, which is not ideal.

3. Bleach

Bleach is one of the most common household chemicals people wonder about in pool and spa maintenance. Not only is it affordable and easy to find, it’s very effective in getting rid of unwanted bacteria around the home. But can you use it in a hot tub?

The answer is yes, but it shouldn't generally be your first choice.

Cleaning a hot tub with bleach

If you notice stains on your hot tub shell after draining it, wiping it over with bleach can be a great way to deal with this problem—especially if the stains are proving difficult to remove with other methods.

To clean a hot tub with bleach, first rinse the area well so it is completely free from any other products. Then you need to make a mild solution of 10% of bleach to water. Put it in a spray bottle, and you can use this solution to scrub away any stubborn stains.

Make sure to scrub gently and always wear protective gloves.

After you're done scrubbing, be sure to rinse the hot tub well with fresh water. Once all the bleach has been washed off, you are then safe to use other products again—just NEVER mix bleach with anything but water or you could create toxic fumes.

Shocking a hot tub with bleach

Using bleach to shock a hot tub can work, but should only be considered a temporary solution. Chlorine bleach will act as an oxidizer and kill bacteria and contaminants, but it has several disadvantages when compared to other shock products.

With 3 fluid ounces of regular 6% unscented bleach (like Clorox) you can raise the Free Chlorine (FC) level to 4 ppm in a 350-gallon spa.

Here are some disadvantages to using household bleach over chlorine or MPS shock products:

  • You don't get instructions on how to use it, so it can be tricky to get the dosage right (it’s best to err on the side of caution and start with a small amount, then increase from there if necessary).
  • It has a high pH, so you risk sending your spa pH out of control, and having to add more products to counteract that.
  • Unlike formulated shock products, household bleach does not contain any stabilizer (cyanuric acid or CYA) which makes it less effective if added in direct sunlight.
  • Bleach can be quite harsh on the skin, so you risk feeling itchy and dry after a soak.

For these reasons, it's generally best to use a dedicated hot tub shock product. But in a pinch, unscented (that part is important) bleach can get the job done. Just remember that regular use of bleach is not recommended.

4. TSP

Keeping your hot tub filters clean is an important step in making sure your hot tub is clean and sanitized.

There are dedicated filter soak products (see my experience of one here), but did you know you can also use TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate)?

Your first step is to remove the filter, then spray it down with a high pressure hose to remove any dirt and debris.

Once you've done that, simply soak the filter overnight in a diluted TSP solution, which you can make by mixing 1 cup of TSP with 5 gallons of hot water. This will help to break down any oils, residue, or grime that's built up on your filter.

Once the filter has been soaked overnight, it's time to rinse it clean with the hose again and you're done! Easy, right?

Closing thoughts

Well, there you have it—you now have the information you need to understand which household chemicals can help with your hot tub, and how to use them effectively.

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