Turn Your Stinky Hot Tub Into a Restful Oasis With These Tips

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Let’s face it: Relaxing in your hot tub is not pleasant when it smells like someone released a stink bomb. Why do some hot tubs stink? What can you do to correct it?

Foul smelling spas have bacteria hiding in them somewhere. Let’s have a look at the most common stink culprits and how to destroy them.


Your hot tub filter has a big job, arguably the most important job in the whole tub: It collects all the yucky debris and other “stuff” that gets into your water. As it turns out, that yucky debris and other “stuff”, coupled with warm water conditions is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

Dirty heavily used hot tub filter

I recommend rinsing the filter once a week (using a Jet Stream Filter Cleaning Tool makes this job fast & easy), deep cleaning the filter at every water change, and replacing it yearly.

For more on filter care and its importance, have a look at our Fundamentals of Filters – A Quick Guide to Hot Tub Filter Maintenance.


Taking proper care of your water chemistry should be on the forefront of every spa owners mind. A sharp or sour smell from the water indicates a low pH condition. A musty or stale smell indicates an overly high pH.

Hot tub with cover open
Beautiful spa water is easy to achieve!

What’s involved in water care anyways?

  • Balance – Aim for water pH between 7.2 – 7.6, and total alkalinity between 80 – 120ppm.
  • Sanitize – Most hot tubs work best with bromine. Bromine isn’t a dirty word, despite what some may say. Properly maintained, bromine gives off no smell in a hot tub. Shoot for 4 – 6ppm bromine.
  • Shock – Shocking breaks down organic waste contaminants that cause odor and cloudy water. Shock your water after each use, and weekly regardless of use.

Even if you’re careful and take pretty good care of the water, you can find yourself late to the bacteria party. For these cases, a decontamination procedure is in order. Remember, only you can prevent gross water.

Spa Cover

The primary function of a spa cover is to retain the heat of the water. The cover is, however, under constant attack from steam.

The water molecules in steam have a way of exploiting any imperfection in the cover, collecting in the outer jacket and ultimately the foam. Think of steam as the Terminator, you know, the one made from liquid metal in the movies.

Damaged spa cover
This one was a stinker!

Of course, where water collects and is not sanitized, bacteria grows, and you get stinky-ness.

Here are some additional cover care resources:

Why Does My Hot Tub Cover Stink?

Mold and Mildew in a Hot Tub


Body oils, lotions, soaps, skin cells, sweat and other nasties just love to cozy up into your plumbing. That seems like the worst possible scenario, right?

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to flush all that gunk out of your plumbing when it’s time to change the water. Spa System Flush super-cleans the hidden inner pipes, pumps, hoses, and jets of a spa quickly and easily.

Foamy contaminate riddled hot tub
System Flush at work

You’ll be amazed at the volume of crud that comes out of the plumbing of even a well maintained tub!

Do you have a stinker of a tub you just can’t quite figure out? Leave a comment below!


  1. Great post! It’s very complete and informative. I’d just like to add that bromine also requires less maintenance, meaning you won’t have to shock or drain your water as much as you would with chlorine. That’s a better all around experience for you!


  2. It makes sense that if the water starts to smell off then you are going to have to change that. My spouse and I are thinking about getting a new hot tub so that we enjoy that on our own property. We need to learn how to repair the tub so that it’s maintained properly and we don’t need to worry about major repairs.


  3. I’m the stupid one who has no clue what to with my hot hot. And my skin seems very sensitive to the bromine. The love hate my hot tub. Hope I soon get the chemical ratio right so I can enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know this article is old but we were given our hot tub from someone who had well water and they had a lot of iron. The smell is still in it to this day. Is there something we can do to get the iron smell out ?


  5. Ok. With the pool guy telling me it wont affect the chemicals i put hot tub aromatherapy in the tub. Not only did it not work, but it royally screwed up my chemicals. Alkalinity was thru the roof zapping my bromine. Tried for 3 weeks to fix. Drained. Cleaned. Refilled. Same alkalinity problem. Did a purge. Cleaner for filters. Used 1 time. Went to go get in and it smelled bad. Pulled the filters. They were brown! Wtf? Did cleaner and had yellow scum floating. Shocked tub, added more bromine, added some ph up. All good. Got in. No worries. Go to get in the next night. Smells worse than last night. I am spending more time with adding chemmicals, filling draining refilling than i am enjoying it. And at my wits end with the damn thing. Help plz!


  6. Hi Clarice,
    Try the full decontamination procedure, hopefully that knocks it out. The other thing you can try is using Metal Stain Preventer in your water for a while. If your cover is more than a few years old, you might want to replace it, since much of the odor is likely trapped in it. Give us a call if you continue to have issues, we’ll be here.


  7. Hi Kristine,
    It sounds like something has gone seriously awry with your hot tub. Give us a call when you have a moment near the tub so we can get more information and troubleshoot with you.


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