How to Clean a Jacuzzi

Don't let a relaxing soak in your whirlpool tub be cut short by mold and other debris floating in the water. Follow these steps to get both tub and jets clean again

By Deirdre Mundorf and Donna Boyle Schwartz and Bob Vila | Updated May 23, 2022 12:46 PM

how to clean a jetted tub

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No matter how beneficial massaging hydrotherapy is for your health, a jetted tub can be only as restorative and relaxing as it is clean and sanitary. In order to enjoy the soothing effects of a whirlpool bath, you need to get your hands dirty now and again.

It doesn’t take hours of punishing labor to clean a jetted tub, but it’s not a quick and easy process either. Cleaning any bathtub takes some time, so it stands to reason that with its many nooks, crannies, and hard-to-reach crevices, it’d be even more work to clean a jetted tub. Still, the joy of having such a calming bathroom spa-like respite from a stressful world makes the scrubbing well worth the effort. In this quick guide, learn how to clean a jetted tub so you can enjoy a relaxing bath.

How to Clean a Jetted Tub

how to clean a jetted tub

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Cleaning your jetted bathtub regularly—about once a month—is important. Over time, oil, bacteria, mold, and mildew can collect in the jets, which will release those unwanted particles back into the tub when it is filled with water. Following the steps below can help prevent mold or bacteria from growing in the water lines of the tub.

STEP 1: Flush accumulated gunk and bacteria out of internal tub plumbing.

To begin, wipe up any hair or other debris from the basin or rim, and then fill the tub until water stands at least a couple of inches above the jets. If it has been a while since you last cleaned the tub, it’s best to fill it with hot water. Once the tub is full, there are a few different ways you can proceed (as always, first consult the bathtub manufacturer’s instructions).

Option 1: Add about 2 cups of white vinegar into the water. Because it’s acidic, vinegar is a powerful cleaning product that dissolves buildup effectively. Unlike many commercial cleaning products, it does so without damaging tub components.

Option 2: As an alternative, try 1/2 cup of bleach along with a few teaspoons of powdered or liquid dishwashing detergent. (Some manufacturers do not recommend bleach, which can dry out the gaskets over time.) Use gloves and goggles when using bleach.

Option 3: Try one of the many commercial products formulated specifically for cleaning jetted tubs, following the instructions on the packaging.

STEP 2: Turn off the air-induction valves.

Now it’s time to activate the jets. Before you turn them on, turn off the air-induction valves (unless the manufacturer of your tub specifically recommends leaving them open). Closing the induction valves forces water to circulate only through the tub’s internal plumbing. This concentrates the flow, resulting in a deeper cleaning. With the valves closed (or not), run the jets on high for 10 or 15 minutes, or until debris from the internal plumbing stops washing into the water in the tub.

STEP 3: Flush the tub one more time.

Drain the water from the tub. Now, after coming to terms with the disgust you feel over the amount of filth that’s probably lining the tub basin at this point, fill it up again with warm water a few inches above the jets. Run the tub on high once more for another 10 to 15 minutes in order to flush out even more gunk. Drain the water.

STEP 4: Scrub the inside of the tub gently with baking soda.

OK, it’s time for some good, old-fashioned scrubbing (regrettably, no one has figured out how to clean a jetted tub in a completely hands-off, no-effort way.) Grab a soft cloth and some baking soda; the latter works great as a jetted tub cleaner to break up mold, mildew, and soap scum.

Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda inside the tub, let it sit for several minutes, and then use the soft, dampened cloth to scrub away the grime. Conveniently, you can also use the baking soda on the faucet and drain too. Try not to scrub too vigorously as you go along. Most whirlpool tubs are made of acrylic, a material that can be scratched or gouged if you’re not careful.

STEP 5: Clean the jets with a toothbrush.

You’ve come a long way, but there’s still a little more to do, starting with addressing the muck and bacteria that may be lodged in and around the water jets. With a toothbrush that you use only for cleaning, gently scrub the jet nozzles and the contoured trim around those nozzles. If you can see buildup on a nozzle but can’t reach it with the toothbrush, try to dislodge it with a length of dental floss. Also, remember to clean the air-intake cover by unscrewing it, giving it a soapy brushing, rinsing it off, and screwing it back into position. Finally, give the tub a thorough rinse.

STEP 6: Scrub the caulking around the tub.

After you’ve finished cleaning bathtub jets, the final step to achieve a clean jetted tub is to scrub the caulk. As mentioned above, baking soda is effective at breaking up mold and mildew, and it can help when cleaning caulk. Make a cleaning paste by combining equal parts baking soda and water. Then, with the toothbrush you used to clean the jets, scrub the caulk with the paste.

If baking soda doesn’t leave the caulk clean enough, it may be necessary to use bleach. Before working with bleach, put on gloves and goggles. Turn on the bathroom fan or open a window for ventilation as you work with the cleaning agent. In a bleach-safe spray bottle, combine one part bleach with 10 parts water. Spray the solution on the caulk and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, scrub the caulk again using the toothbrush.

Tackling Set-In Tub Stains and Surface Abrasions 

how to clean a jetted tub

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After cleaning your jetted tub using the steps outlined above, there may still be a few stubborn stains. These stains will require a little extra attention and elbow grease. Combine two parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide to make a cleaning paste. Apply the paste over any stains, and leave it on the stain for 30 to 60 minutes. Scrub the spot with a toothbrush or cleaning brush, then rinse off the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste.

Vinegar is effective at removing hard water stains in a jetted tub. Dip a few paper towels in white vinegar and place the wet paper towels over the hard water stains. Leave the towels in place for about 2 hours. Then, mix equal parts baking soda and water, and scrub the spots with the paste. Finally, thoroughly rinse all of the baking soda and vinegar down the drain.

Despite your best efforts, some stains or abrasions may not be cleanable. In these cases, you can consider replacing or refinishing the bathtub. If you decide to refinish the tub, you can hire a professional or try a tub refinishing kit to reglaze the tub yourself.

Jacuzzi Maintenance

If you want to get the most out of your jetted tub, a once-in-a-blue-moon cleaning isn’t enough. Routine maintenance is key. If your tub is used only occasionally, you may be able to get by with cleaning it four times a year. However, if you use your tub more frequently, aim to clean it about once a month. Additionally, keep an eye on the bathtub jet covers for any signs of damage or deterioration that would indicate that a replacement is necessary.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to clean a jetted tub is important, so that a relaxing bath doesn’t mean soaking in a mix of bacteria, mold, and mildew. While a few higher end self cleaning tub models exist, most people don’t have the luxury of owning one of these types of bathtubs. Follow the steps shared above to clean your bathroom’s jetted tub, so you can truly relax and unwind the next time you take a bath. Plus, now that you know how to clean a jetted tub, you can expect the process to go much more speedily the next time.

FAQs About Cleaning a Jetted Tub

how to clean a jetted tub

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Do you still have a few questions about cleaning jetted bathtubs? The frequently asked questions below offer additional information that you may find helpful when you’re trying to figure out how to clean a jacuzzi tub.

Q: What is the black stuff coming out of my Jacuzzi jets?

The black stuff you see coming out of your jacuzzi jets is likely a mixture of bacteria, mold, mildew, oil, soap, and other gunk. When you drain the water from a jacuzzi tub, some water stays in the lines. When the tub isn’t cleaned frequently enough, bacteria, mold, or mildew can grow.

Q: Can you use bubble bath in a jetted tub, or does it damage the jets?

No, standard bubble bath products should not be used in a jetted tub. These solutions can end up clogging the jets.

Q: Can you put bleach in a jetted tub?

Bleach is generally not recommended for jacuzzi cleaning, which is why it’s important to consult the tub manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding. While it is an effective cleaning agent, bleach is also harsh and can cause the gaskets in the tub to dry out. Some jetted tub manufacturers caution against using it.

Q: How do I get mold out of my Jacuzzi jets?

The best way to clean bathtub jets is to fill the tub with hot water and add in 2 cups of vinegar. Then, turn off the air-induction valves and activate the jets. Allow the jets to run, on high, for about 15 minutes. This should remove the mold and other debris clogging up the jets. Finally, repeat these steps one more time, using just warm water with no vinegar this time, to flush out any mold or bacteria that remains.

Q: How long does a jetted tub last?

The average life of a jetted tub is between 20 and 50 years. This is a large range that is influenced by a number of factors. These can include the frequency of use, routine maintenance procedures, and the overall quality of the tub. Expect a well-maintained tub with jets to last between 20 and 50 years.