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Cleaning Guidelines for Whirlpool Jetted Tubs – Modern Bed and Breakfast

I am someone who not only enjoys the relaxing effects of soaking in a whirlpool tub after a long hard day; I have a property where I maintain five double person Jacuzzi tubs with circulating jets. But somehow the thought of slipping into the warm bubbly scented water surrounded by soft low light is dampened by the idea of what might be spewed from those jets into the water and onto my skin – yew! I always want these tubs at the highest level of cleanliness, not just for myself, but for all of my guests. Of course, this means a good thorough cleaning between guests and this means work – and an operational expense of providing these amenities – Right!

What are a modern Bed & Breakfast Inn and lodging without a jetted tub these days? Even the older Victorian homes are being upgraded with private baths that include double whirlpool tubs. These have huge guest appeal! Rooms with soaking tubs and jetted whirlpools are more likely to rent over accommodations that don't have one, plus it's an upsell – BONUS! Jetted tubs are not without a cost, however. There is equipment maintenance, energy usage, and cleaning with owning a jetted tub. Cleaning a whirlpool jetted tub is a big undertaking any responsible owner should take seriously. We assume this goes without saying but how many of these tubs in lodging are not cleaned properly between guests? I shudder to think. Experts are now advising guests to avoid using these tubs altogether when visiting a hotel. Statistics show that the majority of tubs in lodging are not cleaned properly between guests because it is just too time-consuming and costly. In many states and municipalities, regulations require jetted tubs to be thoroughly cleaned between every guest but often this is being ignored. However, some unscrupulous owners are cleaning and disinfecting the tubs and jets right before an inspection. Why? Well, if you ask the owner they will provide reasons such as expense, labor, time, wear and tear on the tub, etc. These are excuses that put guests at risk and tarnish the reputation of owners who provide a high-quality experience for their guests.

As owners, you can set the bar high and raise awareness with guests, and in turn, guests will be compelled to stay at lodging that sets these higher standards. I have provided some helpful tools for you to economically and, environmentally friendly, clean and sanitize your whirlpool tub. Additionally, you will be able to assure your guests that you have done this. Your guests can hop in the tub, flip on the jet, and settle in for a personal, enjoyable, and relaxing soak.

First, is this concern for real? Check out a study done by a microbiologist at Texas A&M University. This study looked at many whirlpool tubs and sampled 43 for the presence of bacterial contamination. The results of this study are frightening. Of the 43 water samples, 95% of the samples had fecal (that means poop) contamination, 81% showed the presence of fungi growth, and 34% contain Staphylococcus bacteria, some of which strains can cause severe staph infections. These isolated contaminants are something to take seriously and comes from what is known as a biofilm that builds up on the inside walls of the water jets.

Biofilm? What is a biofilm? This sounds like something that grows in a Petri dish. Basically, when you combine the warm moist environment of the whirlpool jets, stagnant water, and warmth, you create one big Petri dish of microorganisms. A biofilm is a collection of microorganisms that form the “slime” layer that can be seen and felt on wet surfaces. These slimy layers can often contain many active molds, bacteria, viruses, and contaminants.  Biofilms can set up in the jets of whirlpools when the stagnant warm water is left behind in the almost 60 inches of piping of the jets. Any organisms the water contains will set up housekeeping and multiply. The next time the jets are turned on, the biofilm organisms get spewed from the pipe, through the jets, and into the tub water. The only way to eliminate these organisms is to break down and remove the biofilm, thus eliminating the contaminants with it. To prevent the biofilm from establishing, the jets must be cleaned out after every use, and for the sake of our guests, this must be done between every guest.

 Fill the tub.

The whirlpool tub should be filled to about 4 inches (10 cm) above the highest jet in the tub.

 Turn off the air induction valve.

Turning off the air induction valve will allow just water to pass through the jets without allowing air to mix in. This will allow for a better cleaning of the jets. Allowing air to mix with the water creates turbulence and some believe opening the air induction port cleans better. Consult your tubs maintenance guide and determine the best method for cleaning your tub.

Add cleanser to the water.

You can use 1/4 cup (50ml) of a low-foaming surfactant. Surfactants break down the surface tension of biofilms and allow them to be washed away effectively. Consider using surfactants like powdered dishwasher detergent or other specially formulated detergents for cleaning the jets.

  1. Cascade Complete® is one option. This is an enzymatic detergent rather than acidic detergent. Detergents that are acid based will damage the seals and brass of the tub and are not as effective on the biofilm.
  2. Specially formulated detergents – These are products that contain targeted surfactants that break down the biofilm and remove the slime that holds the bacteria and other microorganisms in the jets. These products clean in a way even bleach and disinfectants cannot. Click below and purchase.

Oh Yuk Jetted Tub System Cleaner 16 ounces

Buy Bigger and Save Money:
Oh Yuk Jetted Tub System Cleaner Gallon


Optional: You may add ~ 1/2 cup (100ml) household bleach.

Bleach is considered a good general disinfectant. In addition to removing the biofilm and microorganisms from the tub, adding bleach will sanitize the tub. Consult the manufacturers manual for your tub regarding the use of bleach. Some tubs may have fittings and gaskets that will be sensitive or become damaged by the continual use of bleach. Using a very dilute solution should minimize the harmful effects on the tub parts, but over time some of this may be inevitable. Using bleach to clean the tub only in an emergency works well and reduces harmful effects. In my opinion, some wear and tear on the tub as a result of sanitizing is an operational expense that comes with ensuring guests are cared for.

 Let Whirlpool jets run for 10-15 minutes.

At this point, if the jets have a pressure setting, set the jets to the highest setting and turn the jets on. Depending on the severity of the biofilm build up and frequency of cleaning, you should now see gunk spewing from the jets. This is is a very satisfying feeling. If the jets have not been cleaned for some time and the biofilm is extensive you can repeat the cleaning process as needed until gunk and slime are no longer ejected into the water. If there is heavy contamination, I would also recommend a bleach rinse with the cleanser.

Drain water from the tub.

Now is the time to clean the inside of the tub with a high-quality damp microfiber cloth. Use clear water only. This will clean out any residue that has been washed into the basin of the tub. Refill the tub one last time to just above the jets.

 Run whirlpool jets for another 10 minutes.

Allow the jets to run and rinse the tub thoroughly of remaining cleaning agents.

 FINALLY: Drain AND Enjoy

Wipe down the tub one last time with the damp microfiber cloth and dry with a microfiber polishing cloth.

Stamp of Approval:

Stamp your work and give your guests the assurance that the tub they are about to use is clean, safe, and enjoyable to use. This can be done with peelable stickers that can be placed on the bottom of the tub and removed prior to tub use by the guest. This provides assurance to your guest that the tub has been freshly cleaned prior to their arrival.

Now all you need to do is provide a beautiful relaxing setting with music, flameless candles, and plush towels. This gives you a true Modern B&B Spa you can really market.

In the tourist lodging business, one might argue that there are better-suited tubs on the market than the whirlpool tub that requires circulated water through several inches of pipe. Whirlpools require cleaning because they retain water in the interior circulation pipes between guest uses. This may not be the most practical or economical. There are some drawbacks to the air tubs presently on the market. A full discussion of air tubs is beyond the scope of this article.

Click here to see a few pros and cons of each style.

 Massaging effervescent air bubbles. 
High-pressure hydrotherapy via circulating water through jets.

Now ComesThe Best Part – Scroll to the bottom of the page and see more!!

Cleaning Jetted Tubs - Guidelines for Safe Use



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