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How to Clean Bathtub Jets for Sparkling Results

Reviewed by Professional Cleaner Jennifer L. Betts
jetted tub

Jetted bathtubs can turn an ordinary bathroom into a luxurious spa retreat. In order to extend the life of your jetted tub, it's important to learn how to clean the bathtub jets properly.

Why You Need to Clean Bathtub Jets

Learning how to clean bathtub jets will not only protect your investment but will also keep you safe from harmful bacteria. If not maintained properly, you will find black flakes or brown scum in your jetted tub. This is the result of bacteria growing in your tub's jets that come from mold, mildew, flakes of human skin, and soap residue; it's known as "biofilm."

How Often Should a Jetted Tub Be Cleaned?

If you use your jetted tub a few times a week or even daily, you should plan on cleaning the jets every three months, although you can clean them more often. If you tend to use items like oils and bath salts in your jetted tub, it's best to clean it closer to once a month than every three months as these substances can leave residue in the tub jets. If you use the jetted tub occasionally, such as a few times a month or every few months, you can plan on a cleaning schedule of once every six months.

Supplies for Cleaning Bathroom Jets

You should have the following items ready for your cleaning process:

  • Low-foaming dishwashing liquid (i.e. Ajax) or mild low-suds powdered dishwasher detergent (i.e. Cascade)
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda

Cleaning Bathtub Jets Step by Step

These steps can be used for regular or deep cleanings of your tub. If you haven't cleaned the tub in a while, keep the water running to the longest times listed and repeat if you still see grime coming from the jets.

  1. Fill the tub with hot water so that the water is approximately three inches above the top of the highest jets.
  2. Check your owners manual to determine whether you should turn off the air induction valve. Some tub manufacturers ask that you turn them off whereas others prefer that you leave them on during cleaning.
  3. Add dishwashing soap to the water.
    • You can either use about 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid or 4 tablespoons of powdered dishwasher detergent.
    • If you use dishwashing liquid, make sure it is a low foaming kind; otherwise you will have a soapy mess.
    • Likewise, the detergent should be low suds. Powdered detergent is a better option than the liquid because there will be less foam and suds.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the water.
  5. Run the jets at the highest level for about 10 to 15 minutes. The water should start to get dirty with signs of the grime that was in the jets. If you have cleaned the tub in some time, you may want to repeat this step once and run both times for 15 to 20 minutes each.
  6. Drain the tub completely.
  7. Refill the tub this time with cold water and to the same height of about three inches above the top of the highest set of jets.
    massaging jetted bathtub
  8. Run the jets for 10 minutes at the highest power level with just the water (no soap) to rinse.
  9. Observe the jets after 10 minutes. If they're just passing clear water, you can go on to the next step. If you still see debris passing out from them, run the jets for another five minutes.
  10. Drain the tub completely and use a towel or rag to wipe any traces of grime and dirt away from the walls of the tub and the jets.
  11. Now take some baking soda and mix it with water so that you have a mixture with a consistency of watery paste. Rub the mixture on the jet openings with a soft rag or cloth or an old toothbrush to clean them. Loosen the jets and remove them if possible so you can be sure to get into all the parts to clean them out.
  12. If you can't remove the jets but still can see grime along the edges, you can use some dental floss to get in those crevices and pull the dirt out.
  13. You can also use the baking soda paste to clean the faucet, drain, and walls of the tub. Make sure you rub gently with a soft cloth or rag as you don't want to damage the surface of the tub.
  14. Wipe away any debris that you've dislodged from your baking soda cleaning with a towel.
  15. Fill the tub one more time with cold or lukewarm water and let the jets run for three to five minutes.
  16. Drain the tub and use a clean towel to wipe the tub completely clean to finish the process.

Alternative Method Using Bleach

Bleach is a better option than vinegar if you know there is mold and bacteria in the tub jets, but it may be too harsh for your tub's materials. In that case, vinegar is a safer cleaner to use. Review your manufacturer's instructions prior to deciding on using bleach, as some will recommend against using it. Bleach can cause the gaskets to dry out in some tubs.

How to Safely Substitute Bleach

If it is safe to use bleach in your tub, use 1/2 cup of bleach in step 4 as a replacement for vinegar. Do not mix bleach and vinegar because of the toxic fumes it can create.

Cleaning Bathtub Jets With a Commercial Biofilm Cleaner

If you prefer to use a commercial cleaner to get rid of biofilm in your tub, you can substitute the cleaner for the dishwashing soap and vinegar (or bleach). Commercially made jetted tub cleaners like Oh Yuk or Whirl Out are specifically designed to remove harmful mold, mildew and bacteria without harming the jets or tub wall materials. These cleaners are a better option than using bleach, which can be harsh on a jetted tub's materials. Review the cleaner's instructions prior to using as they may require you to run the tub for longer such as 30 minutes with the cleaner and water mixture.

Make Your Bathtub Jets Sparkling Clean

Cleaning your bathtub jets is an easy process, so there's no need to put it off! The more often you use your tub, the more you will need to clean out bacteria, mold and mildew that collect in the jets. The easiest way to keep your tub clean is to have all your materials available in your bathroom and clean the tub right after each use so you'll be sure to have a fresh, clean jetted tub whenever you're ready for a relaxing soak.

How to Clean Bathtub Jets for Sparkling Results