How to Get Rid of Mildew on Hot Tub Pillows

By Calvin | Last Updated: May 29, 2021 | Maintenance / Cleaning

Having mildew on your hot tub pillows or headrests isn’t unusual. Due to the steamy and moist atmosphere created by your hot tub, it is very possible to notice mold and mildew growing on your hot tub pillows.

But no one wants to rest their heads on a mold-infested hot tub pillow. Asides from the nasty smell that the pillows will give off, resting your head on such pillows will cause skin irritation, redness, and even infections.

So when you notice mildew on your hot tub, the best thing to do is to remove it immediately.  How? Let’s find out. First, let’s check out what we mean by mildew.

If you see mildew in your hot tub pillows it means you haven't clean the hot tub shell in a while. Mildew can also appear for different reasons that don't include hot tub maintenance. Whatever the reason is, you need to know how to get rid of mildew on hot tub pillows. Mildew can cause skin irritation and different problems so it's good to act fast.

What Is Mildew on Hot Tub Pillows?

Mildew are fungi that grow on the pillows and headrests of hot tubs and spas. You may also hear people refer to mildew as mold. Mold is used to refer to just one type of fungi while mildew refers to many types of molds or fungi.

Mildew can grow and thrive on organic matter including clothes, leather, cotton, paper, walls, and the likes. Mildew grows in different shapes and even colors. On hot tub pillows and headrests, the mildew found is usually a patch of white or gray fluff that appears on the pillows and headrests.

The mold or mildew looks like a fluffy or powdery substance. If you can notice a white or gray powdery fluff growing on your hot tub pillows or headrests, then chances are you are dealing with mildew. The mildew grows in a flat pattern and sometimes, it gives a slimy feel when touched.

In severe cases, the mildew can turn brown or even black, especially if the mildew growth has been left unchecked for a long time.

Related Read >>> How to Clean Hot Tub Jets?

How to Remove Mildew From Hot Tub Pillows

The first thing you need to know about removing mildew from hot tub pillows is that it’s a time-consuming process. Molds are microorganisms. This means they are usually not noticeable by the naked eye until they have multiplied in thousands and millions.

So, if you can notice mildew growing on your hot tub pillows, then just know there are more molds than you see on the surface of the pillow, and to remove them all will take some effort and time. Now that you know this, roll up those sleeves, and let’s get to work.

Remove the Hot Tub Pillows or Headrests

You should check your hot tub manual for instructions on how to remove the hot tub pillows. Many hot tubs have their headrests or pillows placed in a gap in the hot tub shell. If yours was placed like that, then you can just lift the pillows to remove them.

If you have a different type of headrest or pillow, the manual will show you how to remove it. Ensure to put on a pair of gloves before removing the pillows.

Prepare the Cleaning Solution

There are different products out there that are designed specifically for cleaning hot tub pillows. You can go to the local pool store to get any of them. After getting the pillow cleaner, ensure to read all the instructions on the container to know how to use the cleaner.

You have to dip the hot tub pillow into the cleaning chemicals. Some hot tub pillow cleaners need to mix with water, and some don't. Make sure to check the product container.

You may need to mix the cleaner with water before using it. You may also be allowed to use it directly from the container. Just follow the instructions.

If you don’t have a hot tub pillow cleaner, don’t worry. You can still use your household washing products. Dilute some detergent with 2 tablespoons of bleach in warm water. This will also work well to get rid of the mildew.

Related Read >>> How to Prevent Hot Tub Stains?

Soak the Pillows

The next thing to do is to soak the pillows in the hot tub pillow cleaner or the solution you prepared earlier. Submerge the pillows inside the solution and let them remain there for a few seconds. The hot tub pillows are usually covered by vinyl material.

Soak the hot tub pillows for a few seconds into the cleaning solution.

The vinyl material is waterproof and it prevents water from reaching the foam inside the pillows, so there is no need to soak the pillows for too long because the water wouldn’t get in either way. Now you get it.

Wash the Pillows

After a few seconds of soaking the pillows in the solution, bring them out and wash them with a soft sponge or a soft brush. Don’t use a hard brush for this or you can puncture the vinyl material used to cover the pillows.

If that happens, you will need to replace the pillows because water can then get inside the pillow since it’s already punctured. So, use a soft brush or a sponge to wash the pillows.

Pay attention to the bottom part of the pillow that comes in contact with the water in the hot tub. This part is usually affected by mildew, algae, and all sorts of bacteria.

Related Read >>> How to Prevent Hot Tub Scale?

Rinse the Pillows

After washing the pillows, dip them in clean water and rinse them thoroughly. Ensure there isn’t any chemical, solution, or bleach left on the pillows.

If you don’t rinse the pillows well and you place them in the shell of the hot tub with chemical residue on them, the chemicals can corrode the shell of the hot tub where the pillows are placed.

The pillow cleaners can also cause skin irritation when you rest your head and neck on the pillows, especially if you have very sensitive skin. So, rinse the pillows well.

Wash the Shell of the Hot Tub

After washing the pillows or headrests, you should also wash the shell of the hot tub where the pillows are usually placed. If the pillows have been affected by mildew, then the side of the shell where the pillows are placed has also been affected by mildew. Don’t be deceived.

Mildew can also affect the shell of your hot tub. The shell is usually made from different materials including wood which molds thrive on. So, after washing the pillows, wash the shell too. It would be better to use a cloth to clean the shell.

This is because using the sponge or brush means you will need to use a lot of the cleaning solution while scrubbing. This can lead to the cleaning solution dripping inside the water in your hot tub and that can alter the water ph level and cause another problem for you to fix.

The last thing you want is unbalanced water chemistry in your hot tub. But if you plan on draining the hot tub after washing the pillows, then you can go ahead to use the sponge or brush. To use a cloth, dip the cloth or rag inside the solution you used to clean the pillows and use that to wipe the shell of the hot tub where you place the pillows.

You can do this up to three times to get rid of any mildew residing on the shell. After washing the shell, dip another cloth inside clean water and use that to wipe the surface.

Treat the Pillows With a Non-alcoholic Based Vinyl Protector

When the pillows have dried, treat them with a non-alcoholic-based vinyl protector. This will prevent mildew from growing on the pillows for a while and it will also kill any other germ on the surface of the pillows.

So that’s how you remove mildew from your hot rub pillows but how does mildew get on the pillows? Let’s find out.

Related Read >>> How to Remove White Mold in Hot Tubs?

How Does Mildew Grow on Hot Tub Pillows?

Like most other fungi, mildew needs a damp and moist environment to thrive. It can’t survive in dry environments. Your hot tub pillows however create the perfect breeding space for mildew. When you rest your head on the pillows or headrests, the oils from your hair and skin get on the surface of the pillows.

And this is it, this is how the hot tub pillow looks after you clean it using our method.

Your Body Oils

When you soak in the hot water too, your sweat glands produce a lot of sweat to cool your body. The sweat from your neck, head, and back also gets on the hot tub pillows. That’s not all.

When the water is being heated, some of the water escapes into the atmosphere in the form of water vapor. The water vapor also gets on the hot tub pillows.

Your Hot Tub Jets

The bubbling effect created by the jets and the splashing of water as you get in and out of the hot tub also adds water to the hot tub pillows. So the pillows are picking up a lot of dirt, moisture, and oils. Not to mention the dust and debris that the wind blows on the pillows too.

The sweat, oils, heat, water, and dirt that gets on and in the hot tub pillows create the perfect breeding ground for mildew but you add the final piece to welcome the mildew. Yes, you do. How? By not cleaning the hot tub pillows.

Bad Hot Tub Maintenance

When you don’t clean the hot tub pillows regularly, the sweat, oils, steam, moisture, and other contaminants that get on the pillows will remain there and accumulate more as you use the hot tub.

If this continues. It’s only a matter of time before you start to have smelly and nasty mildew growing on your hot tub pillows and headrests. So the best way to prevent mildew on your hot tub pillows is to clean and wash the pillows regularly.

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.