Can You Use Vinegar in a Hot Tub? (Cleaner & pH Decreaser)


I’ve used vinegar to clean with for many years, and I’ve even used it with my hot tub. So how effective is vinegar at cleaning and disinfecting? And is it really able to lower pH levels?

You can use vinegar in your hot tub to clean the shell. Because vinegar contains acetic acid, it’s able to dissolve mineral deposits and remove dirt, grease, and grime. Vinegar is also able to kill certain bacteria found in spas, such as E. Coli. Vinegar may also be used instead of other acids to lower the water’s pH.

Despite vinegar being able to kill certain bacteria, its disinfectant capabilities are fairly limited. And if you’re thinking about using vinegar to lower pH, then I’d enourage you to reconsider.

Use vinegar to clean your hot tub

Vinegar is an excellent all-purpose cleaning agent. Maintaining a hot tub requires the use of a lot of costly chemicals, so vinegar makes for an inexpensive way to reduce the number you use.

Being a natural product made from grain and water, white vinegar doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. But while vinegar is great for removing dirt and grime, it isn’t so good at disinfecting.

Vinegar can be used to clean and deodorize your hot tub, prevent the jets from becoming clogged, and remove water spots and scum lines in the spa shell. Vinegar may also be used to clean your hot tub filter.

Don’t use vinegar to disinfect your hot tub

The fact you’re looking at using vinegar to clean your hot tub likely means you want to reduce the number of harsh chemicals, perhaps due to some sort of allergy. Unfortunately, vinegar is limited in its capabilities when it comes to fighting bacteria.

As a disinfectant, vinegar has limited uses. It can only kill or reduce certain types of pathogens, such as:

Escherichia coli (E. coli)
Salmonella
Listeria monocytogenes

Healthline.comOpens in a new tab.

According to EPA standards, disinfectants need to be able to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses that cause diseases. You don’t need me to remind you that hot tubs are a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty bacteria.

Therefore, it’s best only to use vinegar to clean your spa. To kill bacteria, you must purchase a specially formulated spa surface cleanerOpens in a new tab. that properly disinfects.

Can I run vinegar through my hot tub plumbing?

Vinegar should not be used as a homemade hot tub line flush that is run through the plumbing in an attempt to clean and remove biofilm. Unfortunately, vinegar isn’t able to kill biofilm because it’s not powerful enough.

Instead, use a dedicated biofilm cleaner (I always use Oh YukOpens in a new tab.) that’ll remove and kill all traces of harmful biofilm lurking in the pipes.

What kind of vinegar do you use to clean a hot tub?

The most suitable type of vinegar for cleaning a hot tub is distilled white vinegar. The acidity level of white vinegar is usually between 2.5 and 4.0 pH. This makes white vinegar strong enough to clean and dissolve residue but not so strong that it’ll cause damage to the spa shell or cover.

I recommend this all-natural cleaning vinegarOpens in a new tab. that’s specially formulated to a 6% acidity for the perfect cleaning strength.

How much vinegar do you use to clean a hot tub?

The ideal vinegar to water ratio for cleaning a hot tub is equal parts white vinegar and water. You can also clean your hot tub filter by soaking it for several hours in a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water.

However, if the filter is particularly dirty, you will have to use a chemical-based filter cleanerOpens in a new tab. to disinfect it. Make sure to replace the filter when it’s no longer possible to get it clean.

How to clean a hot tub with vinegar

Follow my instructions to get your hot tub sparkling clean. Each item recommended in the list is linked to the Amazon website if you need to make a purchase.

What you need:

Instructions:

  1. Clean the plumbing using line flush to remove any biofilm.
  2. Turn the power off.
  3. Drain all of the water.
  4. Mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle or bottle.
  5. Apply the vinegar-water solution liberally over the empty hot tub shell.
  6. Allow to work for 15 minutes.
  7. Clean using your microfiber cloth or soft sponge.
  8. Repeat the process for any tough stains.
  9. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water.
  10. Remove all traces of rinse water, including in the footwells.

Can you use vinegar to lower the pH in your hot tub?

You may have heard that it’s possible to lower the pH in your hot tub by replacing the chemicals with vinegar. So is it really possible?

It is safe to use vinegar to lower the pH in a hot tub; however, it isn’t very practical for a number of reasons. Vinegar will add acetates to the spa water, creating a secondary buffer system isn’t desirable. Another issue is the large quantity of vinegar needed to lower pH, which may cause a foul odor.

Vinegar is an acetic acid, which is a type of organic acid. White vinegar usually has an acid concentration of around 5 – 6 percent, making it a relatively weak acid.

Because of how weak vinegar is, it requires around 29 times the volume of sodium bisulfate to be effective. Sodium bisulfate is a dry acid that has a concentration of over 93 percent, which makes it far more suitable and much more practical for lowering pH.

As mentioned earlier, adding vinegar to spa water causes unwanted acetates to form in the water. On the other hand, sodium bisulfate forms sulfuric acid, which is a strong acid that’s ideal for your hot tub’s pH levels.

Another reason to avoid introducing organic compounds into spa water is that they’re not able to be broken down easily by chlorine.

If the reason that you want to use vinegar is to save money, then I would argue that the savings really aren’t worth it. We’re talking about a saving of a few dollars over the course of an entire year.

My advice is to use sodium bisulfate. You can use muriatic acid, but I prefer this replacement product to lower the pH as it’s less caustic. Here are the two brands that I recommend:

I understand that why you might want to lower the pH in your hot tub without chemicals; however, vinegar should only be used as a last resort and not as a permanent replacement.

But if you’ve found yourself without your usual pH decreaser, then here’s how to lower the pH using vinegar.

How to lower pH in a hot tub using vinegar

Read through all the steps before beginning:

  1. Ensure that the pump and jets are turned on so that the water is circulating.
  2. Test and adjust the alkalinity levels so that they’re between .. before moving onto the pH.
  3. Draw a sample of water elbow-deep from the center of the spa. Test the current pH level.
  4. Pour four cups (946ml) of white vinegar directly into the water and allow it to circulate uncovered for at least two hours.
  5. Test the pH levels again.
  6. If necessary, add more vinegar in four-cup increments until you have a reading of between 7.4 – 7.6.

Tip: To ensure I never run out of pH decreaser (or any other spa chemical), I like to buy in bulk. But buying in bulk doesn’t mean purchasing 10 or 20 bottles. I like to buy two or three at a time rather than single bottles.

That way, as soon as it’s time to open up the last bottle, I order another batch. I never allow myself to run out, giving myself plenty of time to look for offers by not having to panic buy.

Did I cover everything?

I always try to provide the most relevant and up-to-date information I can in all of my articles. Saying that, feel free to shoot me an email using the contact form if you think this article is lacking in some way, or if you’ve been left with any doubts.

Thanks for reading and happy hot-tubbing!

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