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Cleaning Your Hot Tub with Vinegar: Step-by-Step Instructions

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Hot tubs are a great way to wash away the stress from a long day- that is until the hot tub needs some washing itself. A dirty hot tub means foul smells and grime.

The worst part? Chemical filled cleaning products that are harmful to your family and the environment. Luckily natural cleaners, like vinegar, are just as effective in achieving the squeaky clean you crave.

To clean your hot tub, first, add a gallon of vinegar to your water and run it through the lines for at least two hours. This attacks biofilm in the tubes and jets. Next, make a 1 to 1 solution of vinegar and water to use for wiping down your tub cover and shell.

Vinegar is a cheap and natural solution to grime and bacteria, easily found at your local grocery store. Not only that, it’s so versatile that it can be used for cleaning all parts of your hot tub. Learning how to use vinegar to your advantage will help simplify the otherwise stressful and time-consuming process of cleaning your hot tub. 

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How to Clean a Hot Tub with Vinegar

As you now know, vinegar is not only a great addition to your salad dressings and steak marinades, you can also use it as a safe and eco-friendly hot tub cleaner. To use vinegar, for thorough and proper cleaning of your hot tub, you should focus on scouring these five main areas: 

  • Lines and pipes
  • Water jets 
  • Inner-shell
  • Tub cover 
  • Filters 

These components are essential to the functioning and longevity of your hot tub. Though the task can seem daunting, you should drain and clean your tub every few months to avoid a build-up of grime and bacteria. The good news is vinegar can be used in all parts of the cleaning process, making the task simple and effective.

But wait! Before you drain your tub for cleaning, flush your lines first. Biofilm, or bacteria, builds up in your hot tub pipes over time. Too much biofilm can not only cause cloudy water and reduced jet pressure but can even make you sick. Dump a gallon of white distilled vinegar into your tub and let it run through for a few hours, or overnight, to clean out this gunk. 

Once you have flushed your lines and drained your tub, you can focus on surface cleaning. Follow these five easy steps to a sparkly clean hot tub: 

  • Step 1: Create your cleaning solution. You will need to mix a one to one ratio of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Shake or stir the solution well to ensure it is evenly mixed before using.  
  • Step 2: Spray down the inside of your spa shell in sections, and let sit for at least 15 minutes at a time so it can attack mildew, algae, and bacteria. Focus on nooks and crannies to ensure a thorough clean, then wipe down with a soft cloth. Rinse well and drain. 
  • Step 3: Take aim at your jets. Though most of the jet-blocking debris and bacteria get washed away when you flush your lines, bacteria can easily get trapped under the jet caps. Spray jet covers with the same solution and wipe down with a soft cloth or brush. Remove the caps and clean underneath using the same tools. 
  • Step 4: Now, it’s time to clean your hot tub filters. Filters remove dirt and bacteria from the water and therefore require a deep clean themselves to continue performing effectively. Using a large bowl and the same vinegar solution, soak your filters for at least two hours, then rinse thoroughly. 
  • Step 5: Don’t forget about your hot tub cover, which can harbor bacteria and residue from braving the elements. Spray down your cover and let your vinegar solution sit for 15 minutes before wiping down your cover with a soft cloth and rinsing well. 

What kind of Vinegar Should I Use? 

Cleaning your hot tub with vinegar is effective and safe, but which vinegar is the best to use? With so many different vinegars on the market, it can be hard to determine which is the most effective. For this reason, it’s important to choose your vinegar wisely when you decide it’s time to clean your hot tub. 

White distilled vinegar is our first choice as it has an acidity percentage level of about 5. Furthermore, It is made up of acetic acid (the source of its sour smell and taste), which can also be found in other store-bought cleaners. This means that it will easily cut through the grime, bacteria, and stains in your hot tub while still being gentle. 

White vinegar is not colored, so it won’t stain light surfaces or materials like balsamic or red vinegar might. This is especially important to consider when cleaning your hot tub cover. 

With all the pros that come with cleaning with vinegar, there is unfortunately also a con: the abrasive smell. Can’t stand the smell but still want to use vinegar as a hot tub cleaner?

Make sure to air out your tub well after cleaning and before filling so, the smell dissipates. You can even add a few drops of essential oils into the solution to naturally curb the odor. 

How Often Should I Clean my Hot Tub? 

Now that you know how to clean your hot tub using vinegar, you may be asking yourself how often it’s necessary. This is greatly dependent on how often you use your tub, but it’s a good idea to perform regular maintenance regardless of usage

Every few days, you should visually inspect your hot tub, looking for signs of water cloudiness or discoloration. It’s also important to regularly check the chemical levels using test strips to ensure that pH levels are balanced and that bacteria-fighting agents, like chlorine, are at safe levels.

Every month you should clean out your filters, as their primary function for your hot tub is to maintain a debris and bacteria-free environment. If your filters get too dirty, they will no longer be able to successfully capture harmful chemicals and dirt that can put your hot tub, and you, at risk. Scrub your hot tub cover down once a month, as well. 

More heavy-duty maintenance, like fully draining and cleaning your tub, should be performed every four to six months. If you are using your hot tub twice a week or more, you should aim for every four months. If you only are using your hot tub a few times a month, aim for every 6 months. 


Having a hot tub is a great way to relax and unwind, but it’s also an investment that requires frequent maintenance and cleaning. Many store-bought cleaners are chock full of harsh chemicals that are potentially harmful to pets or children and especially damaging to the environment.

Thankfully, vinegar is the perfect natural solution to your cleaning needs.  Using vinegar to clean your hot tub is not only effective but also safe and simple. The high acidity level cuts through most messes, meaning it’s your one-stop-shop for hot tub cleaning bliss.

Vinegar is a cheap, anti-bacterial, and eco-friendly way to ensure your hot tub runs safely and effectively. All that’s left to do is kick back and enjoy. 

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