How To Fix Hot Tub Biofilm Or Other Foul Contamination

hot tub biofilm
Fix hot tub biofilm or other foul contamination

If you've noticed that your hot tub requires more chemicals than usual or if the water has turned cloudy, you might be dealing with a buildup of biofilm. Biofilm, a slimy layer often called spa bacteria, forms on water pipes and hot tub surfaces.

This troublesome layer can cause issues ranging from reduced water clarity and filtration inefficiency to skin irritations such as hot tub itch and even damage to the equipment itself.

To fix hot tub biofilm, it is helpful to understand the problem and know how to clean it properly. You should consider cleansing biofilm from your spa's plumbing with hot tub cleaner instruments. This may be the best way to start restoring balance and clearing up any contaminants.

After more than 15 years of researching hot tub water maintenance, we know the importance of understanding what causes biofilm buildup. Step-by-step methods to remove this persistent issue can be very helpful.

What is Hot Tub Biofilm Buildup?

Hot tub biofilm is a slimy growth layer of microorganisms that can build up on hot tub surfaces. Bacteria and other microorganisms that thrive in warm moist environments are the main cause.

While some biofilm is inevitable, it can become a problem if it starts to interfere with the performance of the spa. For example, Biofilm can clog filters and pipes. This reduces water circulation and increases maintenance costs.

Biofilm can also provide a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, posing a risk to human health. Hot tub owners can take control of biofilm growth with practices that include regular cleaning and disinfection.

Problems that Biofilm Slime Causes for Hot Tub Water

If left untreated, biofilm can cause severe damage to your hot tub plumbing lines and filters. Here is a list of other issues it can cause:

  1. The buildup of biofilm can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria, which can make people sick.
  2. The biofilm effect leads to the formation of scum and algae, which can make the hot tub water look and smell bad.
  3. Biofilm can clog up filters and other equipment in the hot tub, causing it to work less efficiently.
  4. Biofilm can increase the likelihood of corrosion in the spa plumbing system.
  5. In extreme cases, biofilm can cause the spa system to fail.
  6. The protective slime layer of biofilm is challenging to remove and can require extensive cleaning procedures.
  7. Biofilm is often resistant to traditional disinfectants, so it can be hard to eliminate it.
  8. The use of biofilm-promoting chemicals (like chlorine) can exacerbate the problem, making it even harder to eliminate. ‍
hot tub biolfilm is a problem of the past
No more biofilm with O-Care

The Hot Tub Itch: Can Biofim Cause Hot Tub Rash?

The hot tub itch, or Pseudomonas folliculitis, is a skin infection that appears when people spend too much time in contaminated hot tub water.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the bacteria that causes the hot tub itch. This bacteria thrives in warm, moist environments and can be found in hot tubs, swimming pools, and water parks. The itch can be anywhere on the body but is most commonly found on the torso and legs.

Symptoms of the Hot Tub itch include:

  • Redness
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Blisters

This type of infection can be treated with antibiotics, but it is important to seek medical attention if symptoms occur.

What Are the Side Effects of Hot Tub Biofilm?

Here is a list of the main side effects of hot tub biofilm:

Is Hot Tub Biofilm Harmful to the Equipment?

Yes, hot tub biofilm is harmful to the spa equipment. Hot tub biofilm is a slimy adheres to your spa's equipment and plumbing. If left untreated, this biofilm can increase the risk of continuous water, plumbing, and filtration system contamination.

To prevent the formation of hot tub biofilm, it is essential to keep your spa clean and free of organic debris. Be sure to clean all surfaces regularly with a mild detergent or chlorine bleach solution. It would help if you also shocked your spa weekly to kill any bacteria in the water.

How Do I Know If I Have Biofilm?

The most common signal for biofilm problems is adding more sanitizing fluid than was previously needed to maintain normal water chemistry levels. If you don't treat biofilm, it may develop anytime in the hot tub.

Even if everyone gets out of the shower before entering a hot tub, they bring body oils and dead skin cells. These are mixed in with bugs in the bath to produce the slimy film of the bath water. This can cause water to cloud and stink.

You must destroy bacteria first and add a disinfectant like chlorine to the water.‍

How To Fix Hot Tub Biofilm Or Other Foul Contamination
Clear water thanks to O-Care

How To Get Rid of Biofilm Contamination in The Hot Tub

If you suspect you have a biofilm issue, the easiest way to get rid of it is by shocking the system with a high chlorine concentration. This will kill the bacteria and break down the biofilm.

You can also use a hot tub enzyme cleaner to break down the biofilm and organic matter causing the contamination.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to biofilm. Here is what you need to do.

Step-by-Step Guide to Get Rid of and Prevent Biofilm

Here are the steps you need to follow to get rid of and prevent biofilm:

Step 1: Purge the Hot Tub's Plumbing System

First, ensure the hot tub is clean on the inside by purging the system with a tube cleaner. Many in-system cleaners are on the market because they can be generic products. You can try one that suits you from your local spa store.

Step 2: Clean or Replace the Filter

Clean the filter, or replace it with a new one. You should clean the filter every week and, on average, replace it yearly. This depends on how often you use your hot tub. Please consult your manufacturer for the replacement frequency.

Filtration is 50% of sanitation, meaning you need fewer hot tub chemicals and sanitizers if you have a clean filter.

Step 3: Check for Hot Tub Contaminations

When you have cleaned and refilled the hot tub, check if most or all of the contamination has gone from the system. To do so, choose one of the following sanitizers:

Step 4: Final Adjustments Before Getting Back into Your Spa Water

Before you start using the hot tub:

  • Add 120 Grams or 4.2 Ounces of Non-Chlorine Shock (Monopersulfate / MPS).
  • Wait one day, then add your preferred sanitizer and the amount indicated on the packaging.
  • Wait 3 hours at least before you use the hot tub after this.
  • Measure and bring them to the required level (see graph below). 

If everything is at acceptable levels, you're back in an ideal environment to use your hot tub. Your water will once again kill bacteria and stop biofilm from building up.

Chemical Levels Are Still Not at Acceptable Levels?

You will need to take action if you are not measuring acceptable water chemistry levels.

Repeat step 4 until you get the perfect water balance. This balance will keep contaminants at bay.

Because the hot tub still has contamination, the sanitizer is being "used up." To eliminate that, you need to add more Non-Chlorine Shock (Monopersulfate / MPS). Non-chlorine shock (Monopersulfate / MPS) will oxidize contamination.

DO NOT USE THE HOT TUB when you've added the product in this higher amount. As mentioned in step 4 above, you will need to wait at least a day.

How do I prevent biofilm in the future?

water rich environments
Prevent biofilm with O-Care

How Do I Prevent Hot Tub Slime in The Future?

Here is what you can do to help prevent biofilm from developing in your hot tub:

1. Balance Water Chemistry

Regularly test and adjust pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels. Maintaining the correct balance of these chemicals will help to prevent the formation of Biofilm.

2. Clean Filters Regularly

Dirty hot tub filters can breed bacteria, so it's important to clean them often. Once you completely drain the hot tub, the interior surfaces will be cleaned. A soft cloth should easily remove dirt from the hot tub shell.

3. Drain the Water After 2 to 3 Months

Draining your spa and refilling it with fresh water every few months will help to keep the water clean and biofilm-free.

4. Cover Your Hot Tub Overnight or Whenever You Don't Use It

This will help to keep out debris and contaminants that can contribute to the formation of biofilm. Remember to clean your hot tub cover regularly to prevent contamination and deterioration.

5. Consider Using a Water Care Monitor

A Water Care Monitor such as the O-Care app can help you track your spa's water chemistry and ensure that it stays balanced. This will help prevent biofilm from forming.

Download the O-Care App

The O-Care app shows you step-by-step how to fix water problems. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play and use it on your phone of tablet.

The app is easy to use and understand. It uses animations to help you solve problems. The O-care app also allows you to learn more about biofilm prevention methods.‍

Can O-Care Remove Biofilm?

O-Care's effectiveness in combating biofilm buildup is unparalleled. Its special blend of enzymes and minerals targets the biofilm's structure, breaking it down and preventing the microorganisms from clinging to the surfaces of your hot tub.

This action not only clears existing biofilm but also discourages new growth, ensuring your hot tub remains clean and clear for longer periods. The proactive use of O-Care means less time spent on hot tub maintenance and more time enjoying the soothing waters of your spa.

O-Care provides a solution that is not only effective against biofilm but also kinder to the environment. This is because it reduces the need for sanitizers, which are harmfull to the environment.

Resources to keep your hot tub clean

  1. Download the O-Care app for weekly maintenance and step-by-step problem-solving.
  2. Use our online water assistant to diagnose your water quality issues.
  3. This article covers more situations if the app didn't help solve your problem.
  4. I need to solve an underlying contamination issue in my hot tub; maybe it's biofilm?
  5. How to avoid future problems and keep your hot tub clean?
  6. What kind of sanitizers can I choose from?
  7. What is the best way to maintain my hot tub water?
  8. How to test the water in my hot tub?
  9. All our latest O-Care blogs.

Wrapping Up Hot Tub Biofilm

Biofilm is a sticky film with a protective layer that can build up on the surfaces of water systems, including hot tubs. It can cause several problems, including hot tub rash and water system equipment damage. Keep your hot tub clean and free of biofilm to prevent these issues.

Follow the instructions in this blog to rid your hot tub of biofilm and enjoy clear water for years to come! To make your hot tub maintenance even easier, try O-Care!

FAQs about Hot Tub Biofilm

How do I get rid of biofilm in my hot tub?

To get rid of biofilm in your hot tub, use a special antibacterial solution to clean and disinfect the spa surface. Start by filling a spray bottle with the solution and spraying it into the water. Leave the bottle in place for at least two hours to kill any biofilm that may be present. You can use a scrubber brush to clean the hot tub's surface.

How fast does biofilm develop in a hot tub?

Biofilm can develop quickly in a hot tub, often in as little as 48 hours. It means it is important to take measures to prevent continuous water contamination, such as regularly cleaning the tub and using sanitizers.‍

Does vinegar kill biofilm in a hot tub?

Yes, vinegar can indeed kill biofilms in hot tubs. Vinegar is a chemical agent used for centuries to clean and disinfect various surfaces. Biofilms are bacteria-based tissues forming on surfaces with chlorine and other chemicals. The acetic acid present in vinegar destroys biofilms by dissolving their protective layer. This allows the chlorine and other chemicals to damage and kill the bacteria lurking within the biofilm.‍ Do not mix vinegar with chlorine, as it can lead to health issues.

How do I eliminate biofilm in my inflatable hot tub without draining it?

The easiest way to get rid of biofilm in an inflatable hot tub is to use a hot tub chlorine tablet or granular chlorine. Dissolve the chlorine in a gallon of water and pour it into the hot tub. This will kill the biofilm and sanitize the water. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when using this product, as too much chlorine dioxide can be harmful.

Can I have biofilm in my new hot tub?

Biofilm can exist in new hot tubs and pools' plumbing. This happens because hot tubs are filled with water to test for leaks during manufacturing, then drained. They're not completely dried, leaving moisture behind. This moisture, along with warmth, darkness, and no air flow in the wrapped plumbing, allows biofilm to grow. Once installed and filled, this biofilm can spread into filters, jets, and all nooks of the hot tub.