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Your Hot Tub Water Smells Bad!

Does your hot tub smell bad? When you open up the spa cover, do you reach for the clothes pins? Does your skin smell bad hours after you get out of the hot tub? A foul-smelling spa or hot tub is a sure sign that bacteria is hiding somewhere in your spa, spa equipment, or spa cover. I'm not talking about the smell of spa bromine or ozone - but a rotten egg, dirty socks, wet dog kind of smell! Your spa water can be crystal clear, and you can still have smelly spa water.

A spa with an odor problem is not uncommon, so don't feel bad when it happens to you - feel motivated, and do something about it! Here's some steps to take to remove odors from your spa, so you can get back to enjoying your relaxing soaks.

pH Levels

Your spa pH level can affect the way that your hot tub water smells. When pH is very low, a sharp and pungent smell can result, and when pH is very high, a musty and stale odor can result. Check and balance your pH level often, and maintain it in the 7.4-7.6 range.

Hot tub chlorine granules

Sanitizer Levels

Bromine, chlorine or biguanide check that your level of spa sanitizer in the water is at a level high enough to kill bacteria and other smelly substances. This level of sanitizer needs to be kept at a consistent level to keep your water clean.

After heavy use of your spa or hot tub, or every few weeks regardless of use, shocking the spa will quickly kill bacteria in the water. To successfully shock the tub, you should know the number of gallons in your spa, to be sure that you don't under-dose it with spa shock. After shocking a smelly spa, leave your spa cover open for a few hours to allow gasses to escape.

Draining Your Spa

If you haven't done so in some time, you may want to skip the balancing and shocking of your spa water and proceed directly to draining. You should drain your hot tub about every 3-4 months. For smelly spas, draining the water may not do the trick of removing the smell. If not, read on for more causes of hot tub odor.

Your Hot Tub Cover

Your cover can cause bad hot tub water smells

Hot tub covers are designed to drain properly and not hold water. If you've owned your hot tub for any length of time however, you know that spa covers don't last forever. Eventually, nearly all spa covers will begin to trap water. When unsanitized water is trapped in a warm environment - that's right, you get bacteria!

If your spa cover has gained a few pounds, it may be the source of your hot tub water smells. Remove it to an area away from the spa to determine if the funky spa smell is from the spa, or the spa cover. If you can find the source of the water logged spa cover, you can attempt to seal up the void, dry out the spa cover guts, and reassemble. In most cases, however, a water logged hot tub cover or a spa top with broken foam inserts will have you soon looking to buy a new spa cover!

Your Hot Tub Filter

Bacteria and other contaminants that are brought into your spa are meant to be killed by the sanitizer and their smelly-selves removed by the filter. Your filter cartridge needs to be properly inserted to prevent water from bypassing around it. Most spa filter cartridges should be replaced every year, to keep filtering at an optimum. When the cartridge ages, oils and minerals can clog up the fabric, and the fibers of the fabric separate, allowing mold and bacteria to pass right through. Replace your filter cartridge annually to avoid this.

Your Hot Tub Pipes

Bacteria can build a nice home for themselves inside of your plumbing pipes. This is almost a certainty if you neglected the spa for some time, or left it almost empty, but with some water left inside the pipes and equipment underneath. This topic kind of grosses me out to be honest, so I'll be quick.

Bio-film in your spa definitely smells bad, but you may never know that it's there. In extreme cases, chunks will break off and you may find brown or green remnants in your spa filter, but usually you will never see biofilm, as it likes to stay hidden in your pipes and equipment.

It's a good idea to use a cleansing product twice per year to remove bio-film in your spa or hot tub. I use Rendezvous filter fresh to remove any hidden bacteria in the pipes and equipment. I add it to the spa the night before I plan to drain it, just in case.

Spa aromatherapy

Aromatherapy for Your Spa

I haven't mentioned these products as a solution to a smelly spa, because they'll just mask the odor - and not do a thing to correct the situation. Nonetheless, when speaking of smelly spas, how can you not mention the numerous products to help make your spa smell nicer?

We have spa beads, spa crystals and spa elixirs, in such delicious packaging that looks good enough to eat! Blends of minerals, crystalline salts and moisturizers, spa fragrances are used to create aromas that help you relax and enjoy your time more in the spa.

There is one product that is more than perfume for your spa - Cense spa shocks are scented, non-chlorine spa shock that kills bacteria fast, and leaves a clean scent to the water.

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Leslie’s makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and Leslie’s assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Leslie’s assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.