After a hard day at work or play, there isn’t anything like soaking in a hot tub to decompress and relax those muscles. But along with the pleasure comes responsibility. You need to care for your hot tub. Here are some tips.

  1. Monitor water chemistry. You need to know the required levels of pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness and sanitizer levels. And then you need to use a test kit to monitor those levels and make necessary adjustments.
  2. Use a spa pre-filter. While tap water in Chicago’s North Shore is usually pretty good, you can run into issues with hard or soft water, high alkalinity, pH imbalance or high levels of chloramines. Using a spa pre-filter will keep metals, odors and even silt from the spa water.
  3. Clean your spa filter. After you find your filter (which can often be found under the skimmer basket accessed from inside the spa or a small tank that is opened up underneath the spa), clean it. While some people say you can put it in your dishwasher, the best way may be to use a handheld garden hose and run it over the filter in an up and down motion. After that, soak the cartridge in a TSP solution of one cup per five gallons of hot water for eight hours, and rinse it clean. Allow it to dry completely before reinstalling it.
  4. Replace your filter every 10-15 cleanings.
  5. Clean the spa. Regularly use a skimmer net to remove surface debris. Every few weeks, fill the tub until the jets are covered by 2-3 inches of water. Add two tablespoons of a low-sudsing dishwasher liquid and one cup of white vinegar (which is preferable to bleach). Run the jets for 15 minutes. Empty the tub and refill it with cold water. Run the jets for 10 minutes. Then drain the tub and rinse it.
  6. Clean the jets with a bottle brush and nonabrasive cloth. You can also use dental floss to get behind the jet covers.
  7. Air out the spa cover at least twice a week.