How to Perform Inflatable Hot Tub Maintenance & Cleaning

Cleaning, maintaining and repairing your inflatables, especially an inflatable spa, is an essential part of owning and operating them.

A woman relaxing in an inflatable hot tub with a floating cleaner that is keeping the water clean.
Hard not to be relaxed here

Not only is it good for your own personal hygiene, as well as that of your guests, but it’s also good for the hot tub itself, as regular maintenance will extend the lifespan of the product.

Another thing to note is that improper usage of any inflatable, including hot tubs, could disqualify you, the owner, from being able to use the warranty that came with the product, should any problem ever arise.

We’re going to introduce you to all of the things you need to properly clean and maintain your portable jacuzzi, including how to remove mildew, how to check the water chemistry of your spa water, and when it makes sense to replace your hot tub filter cartridges.

So let’s get going and conduct our hot tub review for maintenance.

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How to Clean an Inflatable Hot Tub

You’ve been cleaning things since you were little, we get it. And while we trust you to do a great job, we do suggest that you take a moment to better understand what goes into actually getting your hot tub clean.

Doing an excellent job will keep your guests safe. It will also prepare it for indoor storage doing the winter months. Believe us, the last thing you need to happen is a build-up of mold from being left in the basement, improperly cleaned. Or, the second last thing, setting it up for immediate use in the summer and not taking a moment to remove all of the grime from it being stored on a shelf in your garage.

Step One: Remove Debris & Build-Up

Even the most responsible hot tub owners can’t keep their hot tub cover on often enough to prevent dirt, dust, debris and sediment from accumulating in and around the “swimming pool” of the hot tub (if you’ll allow us to phrase it that way). So before you do any cleaning of the apparatus, be sure to remove any/all of the particles that you can.

A working inflatable hot tub
Shut the hot tub off and unplug before removing the water

Step Two: Water Removal

You’ll never perform a proper cleaning with the water still in the inflatable spa. So, remove all of the water and allow the plastic to air dry.

For water removal, we recommend using the built-in plug, valve, nozzle, hose, or otherwise that corresponds with drainage. We aren’t the lead in a popular 90s sitcom about fixing things around the house, so we’ll kindly recommend that you consult the directions that came with your hot tub when you purchased it.

Removing Debris and Sediment with an Aqua Broom

You can also use devices such as an Aqua Broom to clean your pool/spa. This allows you to perform some maintenance with the water actually remaining inside of the tub. Handy, if you’ve brought your portable tub on vacation with you for a weekend and you don’t want to drain the water out after the first day of usage.

Step Three: Wipe Down the Inside of the Tub

We like to work our way from the inside out. In general, the inside of the “swimming pool” has more delicate parts, operating parts such as the filter cartridges, bubble jets and the bottom drain caps, and must be handled with a bit more care than the spa’s exterior.

Don’t use harsh detergents or hot tub chemicals when cleaning the inside of your inflatable spa. If you go the chemical route, as you might need to for heavy-duty cleaning, make sure you purchase a specialized inflatable hot tub cleaning product. Or, if you prefer natural ingredients - and we do - try using white vinegar or rubbing alcohol to remove grime and mildew from the plastic surface.

Tip: Pay special attention to the Water Maximum level. If you see a line or ring of mildew around the tub above that level, then you aren’t operating your spa properly.

Step Four: Wipe Down the Outside of the Tub

Now that the hot tub water is gone, there are two ways to approach wiping down the outside of the inflatable jacuzzi. It depends on both the frequency that you clean your tub, as well as the state of uncleanliness that your tub is in, but in general, we follow this method.

Be sure to be intentional on how you clean around the air valves and the waterline connections. If the unit sustains any damage here, it may interfere with the proper filtration and inflation of the inflatable spa.

Mildly soiled

First, fill up a bucket with warm water. Then, using a sponge, dip it into the water and beginning scrubbing down any areas on the plastic surface that present any grime or mildew. Also note that a soft cloth can be substituted for a sponge in a pinch.

Heavily soiled

Again, fill up a bucket with warm water. If you find that you need a little extra cleaning power, you can use a soft soap / mild detergent to remove any staining.

Step Five: Cleaning the control panel

Cleaning an inflatable hot tub’s control panel should be done with the utmost of care. Always start by wiping the surface down with a dry, non-abrasive microfiber cloth. This should remove a fair amount of any build-up.

Even the best inflatable hot tubs can’t keep every droplet of water contained within the pool. So, there may be a little mildew found on the control panel from time to time. We find that using

And most importantly, never clean it with the unit plugged into an active power outlet.

Tip: Avoid power-washing both the inside and the outside of the plastic. Similar to cleaning with harsh hot tub chemicals, a strong power-wash will likely damage the unit and render it inoperable. Put another way, you will save money by treating your plastic inflatable with care.

7 Tips for Maintaining an Inflatable Spa Properly

Cleaning your inflatable jacuzzi is only half of the battle. The other half of good ownership is taking the time to properly maintain the spa when it comes to keeping the water clean, part maintenance, choosing a good place to set it up and keep, and more.

Testing the Water’s Alkalinity (pH levels)

Picking up test strips or a chlorine/bromine testing kit is the best way to get an understanding of your tub’s pH levels. You want your pH levels to remain in balance. Doing so will help to prevent limescale, a chalky, white substance that forms from high pH levels, as well as any potential damage that may occur to the plastic at low pH levels.

The proper pH level for your hot tub is between 7.3 and 7.6, according to HGTV.

It’s not hard to pick up test strips or a testing kit on Amazon, should you not have time to run out to your local Pool & Spa Supply Store.

Keeping the Hot Tub Water Clean

A truly important step of all hot tub operation, inflatable or traditional, is keeping the water clean. Pools and hot tubs can create a germ-filled environment if not properly cared for.

  • Leave the lid on when you’re not using it. That’s the easiest thing you can do to retain clean water.
  • Usage of bromine tablets or chlorine tablets, the proper sanitizers for water-based structures, will help to destroy bacteria that is growing in the water. A bucket of chlorine granules is a good thing to keep on hand anyway.
  • Replace the water in the hot tub every 3-5 days if you are consistently using the tub. Or, replace the water prior to first use if it’s been awhile.
  • As we suggested earlier, make sure to clean out any organic material (plants, bugs, etc.) from the water. You can scoop it out with a net. Same goes for any inorganic material, especially the kind with sharp edges that may damage the plastic.

One of the tools that we love is the Lay-z-spa ChemConnect Chlorine Dispenser that comes with the Coleman SaluSpa. It’s a low-key way to add chemicals into your spa and we’re all for lightweight options to perform regular maintenance.

We also recommend using an ATIE Inflatable/Above-Ground Pool Floating Mini 1" Chlorine/Bromine Tablet Dispenser, should your spa not come with a pre-attached device. This floater is all types of easy to get using.

Easy Ways (Rules) to Keep the Water Clean

The same rules apply for adults as they do kids, even if it’s a bit harder to enforce with the latter.

  • Bathroom breaks should be taken as needed. Urination of defecation in the tub is strictly forbidden.
  • Do not use the hot tub if you are sick.
  • Do not use the hot tub if you have open sores or exposed wounds.
  • People using the hot tub should shower or bathe prior to entering the water, as removing body oils, lotions, makeup and other non-naturally occurring substances on the epithelial layer (skin) is crucial to long-term maintenance of your inflatable spa.

Regular Filter Cleansing

Inflatable hot tub filters, much like their swimming pool counterparts, require cleaning and/or replacement on a regular basis. What’s great is that in general, they can be cleaned in the comfort of your kitchen. Either take a soft-bristle brush that’s capable of working it’s way into small nooks and crannies, or, run the filter through the dishwasher (cold water, no detergent), and voila, clean filters ready for their next use.

My hot tub has some hard water issues, requiring me to constantly write down on the calendar when the next hot tub cleaning should be.

Choosing the Right Place to Set Up

Like most things in life, creating the right environment to succeed will go a long way toward actually being successful. In the case of a hot tub, especially an inflatable one, finding the right place to set it up will make all the difference in the world when it comes to the proper maintenance and operation of the unit.

  • Find a level spot to set it up.
  • Make sure it is free of rocks, branches, and other solids that could picture the unit while it is inflated. If it can puncture, it will puncture.
  • Place a mat or pad below it prior to its inflation and filling it with water. This will have a dual-effect of additional thermal insulation, as the ground is naturally cooler than the water temperature found inside the inflatable spa.
  • Always, always, always consider drainage. Should the unthinkable occur and the unit deflate while in operation, the water is going to go somewhere. That’s just a fact.
  • If indoors, which we don’t recommend, make sure the space is well ventilated. Prolonged usage will result in mold growing in the room that you operate your hot tub in indoors due to the increased humidity.

Cleaning the Inflatable Spa’s Cover and Floor Mat

Even we overlook this step sometimes, as cleaning the inflatable spa cover and the cushioning floor mat often goes unnoticed. We here to remind you to not forget this essential step in the maintenance process.

Prepping for Storage When Not In Use

After you’ve conducted a thorough cleaning of your device, make sure to dry it completely. Storing a wet inflatable is grounds for the build-up of mold, and that’s nothing you want to deal with. Better to handle the problem the right way at the end of the vacation or season of using it, then to open it back up later only to have to clean the mold off with white vinegar and a laboriously heavy scrubbing.

Give Your Spa a Visual Inspection

Prior to storing your unit for the season, or, prior to first operation, you will want to give it a visual once-over. Look for less obvious things like corrosion on the plug (and GFCI/RCD outlet). Make sure you maintain a proper distance form electrical appliances. Look for any wear and tear on the plastic, as well as the air jets and other easily broken plastic pieces contained within and without.