How to Get Detergent Out of Your Hot Tub

By Calvin | Last Updated: June 4, 2021 | Maintenance / Water Chemistry

So you have detergent in your hot tub water? Don’t panic, we have all been there, at least I have. Detergent in your hot tub water isn’t a cause for panic. It just means you used too much detergent or hot tub cleaner while cleaning your hot tub.

The foam is from the excess detergent you used while cleaning. So, it all comes down to getting the excess detergent out of the hot tub. But does this mean you have to drain the hot tub to get the detergent out? Not quite.

Let’s find out how to get detergent out of your hot tub. But first, let’s check out how the foam gets in the hot tub in the first place.

Knowing how to get detergent out of your hot tub water is important. Once you see foam, or bubbles in your hot tub it's good to act immediately. Leaving foam in your hot tub water for a long time can cause damages to the filters and jets.

Does Detergent Produce Foam in a Hot Tub?

There is foam in your hot tub because you used too much detergent while cleaning the hot tub or the hot tub’s shell. Though this isn’t the only cause of foamy hot tub water, it is usually the cause in most cases. Hot tubs are meant to be cleaned regularly but you should use little detergent or hot tub cleaner while doing this.

If you see foam in your hot tub, does that mean the detergent caused it? Most likely, yes. But, there could be other reasons too.

This is because hot tubs are large and they usually have pockets or space designed in them, either for the jets, the filters, or the plumbing lines. It’s very easy for the excess detergent to get into these spaces in your hot tub and when that happens, it is usually difficult to get the detergent out.

So, when you refill your hot tub with water and turn it on, the water circulates and mixes with the detergent to cause foam on the surface of the water. This can cause the water to become very unclear. Foam in your hot tub can clog the filters and jets. It can also increase the acidic level of the water.

Hot tub water with an increased acidic level can cause discoloration, corrosion, and all sorts of issues to your hot tub in the long term. But you can stop all of these from happening by removing the detergent in your hot tub. So how do you go about that? Keep reading to find out how.

Related Read >>> How to Get Rid of Hot Tub Foam?

How to Get Rid of Detergent From Hot Tub

There are different ways of getting detergent out of your hot tub water. The most common way is to drain the hot tub and refill it. But this method isn’t the most convenient.

For starters, it takes a while to completely drain your hot tub, and refilling it takes longer. So how do you get detergent out of the hot tub without draining it? By shocking the hot tub.

Scoop the Foam From the Surface of the Water

If you have excess detergent in the water, then you surely will have foam on the surface of the water. Use a net or any appropriate tool to scoop the foam that has formed on the surface of the water.

Remove and Clean the Filters

The filters in your hot tub are responsible for trapping debris, dirt, and other contaminants that get into the water. If there is any excess detergent in the water, then it surely would have been picked up from the filters. This is both good and bad.

It is bad because the water in your hot tub is circulated through the filtration system so it can trap any debris and ensure only clean water passes through. Since the filter has already trapped the excess detergent, it means the water that passes through the filters will become foamy because of the presence of detergent in the filtration system.

On the other hand, this is good because you can easily remove the filters and clean them. Since the filters have trapped the excess detergent, removing and cleaning them means you are removing the bulk of the detergent in your hot tub water.

So, remove and clean your filters. You can even soak the filters in clean water for a few hours.

Shock the Hot Tub

After getting the foam out of the way, add a high dose of chlorine shock to the water.

After you manually remove some of the bubbles, it's time to shock the hot tub. Use a chlorine shocker to do that.

The chlorine shock will destroy the impurities including the excess detergent causing the foam. Most hot tub owners use chlorine in their hot tubs so a chlorine shock will work.

If you don’t like using chlorine probably because of the smell it causes, you can use non-chlorine shock in the hot tub to get rid of the detergent.

Turn on the Jets on High

After adding the shock to the water, turn on the hot tub’s jets on a high setting for an hour. Most hot tubs have their jets designed to run for about 10 to 15 minutes before they go off. So you might need to turn on the jets on high again every time it goes off.

The jets circulate the water and since they are on high, the jets will increase the turbulence and water circulation in the hot tub. This makes it easier for the shock added to be absorbed by the water.

As an expert tip, you should leave the cover of the hot tub half-open while you shock the water. This will allow the gases in the hot tub to escape. After about an hour, turn off the jets and the hot tub and allow the water to settle.

Vacate the Hot Tub

After shocking the water, don’t use the hot tub for at least 2 days. When you added the shock to the water either chlorine or not, it would react with the detergent and other chemicals in the water. This can increase the acidic level of the water in the hot tub.

It can also cause the water chemistry to go all wonky. You shouldn’t take a soak in such water or you risk skin infections and water-borne health issues.

Test the Water

After a few days, you can test the water. Start by turning on the jets and the circulation pump for about 20 minutes. If you don’t see any foam appear after 20 minutes, then that means there isn’t any detergent in your hot tub water anymore.

Once you shock the hot tub, you need to test the water chemistry levels. To do that you can use test strips.

The next thing to do after this is to test the water. You can use hot tub test strips, a digital tester, or a liquid testing kit to test the water in the hot tub. Ensure to test for alkalinity, acidity, chlorine or bromine levels, and water hardness or calcium levels. All of these tests are very important to be sure the water is safe for bathing.

If these levels are correct in your hot tub, then it’s safe for bathing and you are free of detergent. But if any of these levels is wrong, then you need to adjust it before you soak in it.

What if There Is Still Foam in Your Hot Tub?

If you still discover foam on the surface of the water after shocking the hot tub, then that means that detergent wasn’t the cause of the foam in the first place.

The foamy water might have been caused by unbalanced water chemistry or another contaminant in the water. Contaminants that can cause foamy water include body oils, hair care products, soda, cheap hot tub chemicals, and the likes.

If it’s caused by unbalanced water chemistry, then shocking wouldn’t work. You need to test the water to know what’s wrong. Then you will know how to fix the foamy water.

Related Read >>> Do Hot Tub Chemicals Expire?

If Nothing Works; Drain The Hot Tub

If you have exhausted all your options of getting rid of detergent from the hot tub, the last resort is to drain the hot tub. Locate the drain valve at the base of your hot tub. Then pull it or open it to allow the water to escape. After you have drained the hot tub, use a sump pump to get rid of the remaining water in the tub.

The next thing to do is to inspect the hot tub. Check the filters, jets, shells, and other parts of the hot tub to know why there is foam in the water. You may be required to get help if you can’t find out what the problem is. But if it isn’t detergent, it usually is caused by unbalanced water chemistry.

When you have fixed the problem, refill the hot tub with clean water and add the needed chemicals. Now you know how to get rid of detergent from hot tub water but how can you prevent excess detergent in the first place? Let’s find out how.

How to Prevent Having Excess Detergent in the Hot Tub

Use the Right Amount

Either you are cleaning your hot tub with a detergent or hot tub cleaner, always use the right amount. Never use too much detergent or cleaning liquid or you risk having foamy hot tub water.

Rinse Your Bathing Suits

Our bathing suits are always washed with detergent. If you don’t rinse the bathing suits well, there would be detergent on the fabric and this can mix with the hot tub water when you get in the hot tub. You should always ensure your bathing suits are well rinsed.

Mix Detergent With Water Before Using It

Another step is to always mix detergent with water before using it. This will ensure the detergent has dissolved in the water before you clean the hot tub with it. This reduces the risk of having detergent in the hot tub. Never pour the powdered detergent directly into the hot tub.

Only Use Hot Tub Cleaners

Okay, I understand that using detergent to clean your hot tub might seem easy but you are risking a lot. The detergent you use might be too harsh for the hot tub to handle. Hot tubs are usually finished with different materials like vinyl and the filters can be made from soft fabric.

Using harsh detergent on these materials can damage them in the long run. The best bet is to use hot tub cleaners or cleaning kits. These products will not corrode your hot tub or damage it and you sure don’t have to worry about excess detergent in the hot tub if you use them.

I use hot tub cleaners to clean my hot tub and I haven’t had to worry about any foam or detergent issue. So if you can, stay away from detergents. Keep a good habit of testing your water every week. This ensures you stay ahead of any situation.

Related Read >>> Can You Use Your Hot Tub After You Shock It?

Final Words

Overall, having detergent in your hot tub is not an immediate cause of panic. Sure, it can clog and corrode the parts of your hot tub but that is if you leave the detergent in the hot tub for a long time.

You can always get detergent out of your hot tub anytime you notice it but your best bet is to stay away from detergent if you can.

Hi, I'm Calvin Hall, the owner of Hot Tub Wiki. I worked at a local Spa Service for a few years before creating this website. I have owned several hot tubs and fixed a thousand of them. So, I know a thing or two about hot tubs.