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Foamy Water in My Hot Tub: Causes, Solutions, and Preventions

February 27th, 2024

Have you ever finished up with your hot tub or spa, turned off the jets, and find foam circling its way around your spa? While this is common, most customers don’t realize it’s not some cool feature that came along with the purchase. Hot tub bubbles are fine, but actual white foam? Not so much. It can be difficult to tell the difference, but here’s what we know:

What Causes Hot Tub Foam?

  • Hair care products such as shampoo, gel, mousse, hair spray, etc
  • Body lotions, deodorant, and makeup
  • Laundry detergent and soap
  • Cheap hot tub chemicals, too many chemicals, or total dissolved solids (TDS)
  • Drinks
  • Low Calcium Levels
  • Imbalanced Water (pH)

At its base, foam will only appear when there is water, air, and a surfactant (a surface-active agent). Excuse the chemistry, but surfactants have one end attracted to water, and one end not attracted to water (hydrophobic). Surfactants sitting on water, with the addition of air, create foam.

As it turns out, you, your family, and your guests’ bodies are the biggest culprit here. Cosmetic and hair products act as surfactants in hot tubs. The second culprit is often your swim suit. The detergent used to clean your suit can lead to the same kind of foam buildup. And finally, imbalanced water – whether high or low pH, low calcium levels, or an excess of chemicals can all lead to foam.

Is Foam Harmful?

Good news: foam unlikely to be harmful to you or to your tub. However, keep in mind that foam is simply a symptom of a bigger problem. If your pH and calcium levels are off for too long, you could have much larger problems.

And even if you use a foam remover, the cause of the foam in your tub will still be present. So most of the time, all you can do is an old fashioned drain and clean.

How to Get Rid of Foam in Your Hot Tub

At the end of the day, the only real way to rid your spa of foam is to drain it. We would recommend draining regularly every 3-4 months, but if you’ve got a serious foam issue, you should definitely drain it.

We can’t express enough how important it is to care for your hot tub as you do your home. You, your family, and more than likely your friends will all hop in and out of the tub numerous times each month. Be sure you take care of your backyard oasis by cleaning it on a monthly basis and refilling the water every few months.

How to Drain Your Spa:

  1. Remove your filters – they may need to be cleaned as well.
  2. Turn off your hot tub, disconnect all plugs, and turn off the breaker for safety.
  3. Drain your tub. You can use a sump pump or let it drain the old fashioned way.

How to Prevent Foamy Hot Tub Water?

Of course you can drain your tub and get rid of some foam, but more importantly, you should be cautious not to allow it to build up again. Because there are so many potential causes, you must be aware and strategic in order to prevent future foam buildup.

Here’s what you can do to prevent foam:

  1. Shower First. Make sure you’re clean before you hop in your spa in order to wash off all the soap residue, makeup, and hair chemicals.
  2. Wear Clean Bathing Suits. Residue from your bathing suits due to the type of laundry detergent can create a foamy substance, so make sure bathing suits are cleaned and rinsed with fresh water before getting in.
  3. Use Quality Chemicals. If you’re trying to save money, save money on anything else but chemicals. Don’t buy the cheap kind as this can result in more problems than just a foamy hot tub.
  4. Don’t Spill Drinks. Drinking while soaking? Make sure you drink responsibly. By that, we mean don’t spill whatever it is you’re drinking.
  5. Test Your Water Regularly. Use hardness test strips once a week to evaluate your tub’s hardness level. If you’ve got an imbalanced pH level, consider a pH decreaser or shock.
  6. Clean Your Water Regularly. As mentioned, a full hot tub drain and cleaning is recommended every three to four months.

Another tip we suggest is purchasing an anti-foam chemical, as this is the perfect option to use if you’re short on time and aren’t able to clean out the water.

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