Cleaning Bathtub Jets
Soap scum, bacteria and pathogens love soaking in warm water just as much as you do.
If you like soaking in a Jacuzzi or whirlpool bath after a trip to the gym, chances are you and your sore muscles are not soaking alone.
Knowing how to clean bathtub jets properly will keep you soaking in health.
Keeping your tub cleaned regularly and avoiding health hazards that can be associated with filthy plumbing lines will help keep the slim and gunk from forming.
Why Bathtub Jets get Dirty to Start With
The jets get dirty in part based on the type of soap you use (bar soap, baby oil and some bubble bath soaps are the worst offenders), your skin cells and natural body oils combined with your soaking solutions that are not completely removed from the pipes.
The dirty water, remaining soap, skin cells, and body oils combined with the bacteria that is naturally present in the water allows for a slimy buildup (biofilm) to form in the plumbing lines of your jetted tub. When used over and again, the dirty water and slime cause odors, mold and mildew, discoloration and infection.
A biofilm is a film of bacteria or a group of microorganisms where cells stick to each other and can be found on many surfaces that are very humid or not sterile. For example:
- When you walk across the rocks covering the bottom of a stream and they are slippery, that thin layer of slim is a biofilm.
- In the home, biofilms grow in showers, they are inside water and sewage pipes, and is found on floors and counters.
- Dental plaque is a biofilm on the surface of your teeth that can lead to disease when not taken care of.
If bathtub jets are not cleaned on a regular basis soap scum can become hardened, and will be very difficult to remove.
If you see gunk, dark flecks, and notice a smell when the jets are operating, this could be a clear sign you are not getting the pipes clean enough.
Bacteria Does Not Belong in the Bath!
Because isolated air and water can get trapped in the pipes, whirlpool tubs can harbor harmful bacteria ready to recirculate.
When the jets are turned on again, bacteria, skin and soap residue comes spewing back out into what you thought was a fresh new bath. Yuck!
According to Texas A & M microbiologist Dr. Rita B. Moyes, this is when the trouble can start.
Moyes states that “a normal teaspoon of tap water contains an average of about 138 bacteria, with many samples not having any bacteria at all. But the same teaspoon of whirlpool tub water contains an average of more than 2.17 million bacteria. The stagnant water in a whirlpool bathtub pipe is a great place for bacteria to grow and grow."
“The best way to prevent bacteria from forming is to clean out the pipes,” she adds, “The pipes in a whirlpool bathtub need to be scraped and cleaned just like you need to brush your teeth with toothpaste.”
Preventing Dirty Bathtub Jets (Maintenance Cleaning)
- After each use, fill the tub with warm water.
- Run the jets for 10 to 15 minutes to flush out remaining soap scum, hair, body oils, dead skin, etc.
- Drain the tub as usual.
How to Clean the Jets in Your Bathtub
Heavy Duty Jet Cleaning
To clean the entire whirlpool system do it once a month or if used frequently follow the process below at least every two weeks.
- Fill the tub with hot water, an inch or so above the highest jet.
- Make sure the water temperature reaches at least 140º F (60º C).
- Add four tablespoons of low-sudsing dishwasher or laundry detergent.
- Run the Jacuzzi or whirlpool for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Drain the tub and refill with clean lukewarm water.
- Run the jets for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Drain the bathtub.
Removing any Remaining Debris inside the Jets
If you see any remaining debris, mold or mildew inside the holes of the jet itself, simply grab an old toothbrush, or a long-handled soft brush and gently scrub inside the jet with a bit of shampoo or dish-washing liquid to remove any accumulated oils.
This job might be more effective if you've tried the hot water with chlorine bleach OR detergent OR vinegar and detergent mixture through the jets.
Once the remaining debris, mold or mildew is gone, rinse thoroughly.
Sterilizing Your Tub
Chlorine bleach will sterilize the jets, kill bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew and reduce odors. Bleach liquefies and removes any mold or mildew on contact. It won't make a dent on soap scum or residue clogging the inside of the pipes, or to remove anything covered in the biofilm.
Make sure while cleaning you have proper air ventilation. As a word of caution, do not use any other cleaners with the bleach as bleach reacts to certain chemicals that can cause a toxic gas.
- Fill Jacuzzi or whirlpool tub with hot water.
- Make sure the water temperature reaches 140º F (60º C).
- Add 4 cups of Chlorine Bleach.
- Run the Jacuzzi or whirlpool for 15 minutes.
- Drain the tub and refill with clean lukewarm water.
- Run the jets for another 15 minutes.
- Drain the tub.
- Run your hand along the sides to make sure the tub is not slippery and no bleach residue remains.
Deodorizing Your Tub
Vinegar is a very effective odor neutralizer and cleaner. It is a mild acid that will also kill mold and mildew (but it’s not nearly as effective as chlorine bleach). Vinegar is also less likely to irritate the skin as bleach will if not completely removed from the tub.
Because vinegar is an acid it kills mold and mildew but does require a bit of extra scrubbing. It will acidify the water which helps to soften and remove soap scum.
- Fill the tub with hot water.
- One gallon of plain white vinegar.
- Add a capful of low-sudsing detergent.
- Run as instructed above under Sterilizing Your Tub, drain and rinse completely.
Using a Biofilm Cleaner
Biofilm cleaners are specifically formulated to remove harmful bacteria from Jacuzzi's and whirlpool bath
tubs. A biofilm cleaner will cut through the slimy buildup so you can clean and remove bacteria, oils, mold, soap residue and more that can continuously grow in the plumbing lines of your jetted tube.
Follow instructions on package for getting the gunk out!
Biofilms vs. Disinfectants
The animated movie referenced in the above link shows you a computer model time-lapse simulation of a developing biofilm. The movie will show you the amazing resistance of microbial biofilms to disinfectants and other chemical agents.
I recommend you watch this it is truly insightful.
Enjoy Your Clean and Relaxing Whirlpool Bathtub
Nothing feels as good as a job well done! A relaxing bath with candles and a few drops of essential oils sounds like a treat to me.
Your bathtub jets will remain clean and debris-free if you follow these tried-and-true tips.