Should I buy a self cleaning hot tub or swim spa?

self cleaning hot tub

Should I buy a self-cleaning hot tub or swim spa?

Clean hot tubs. We’re obsessed with them. And no wonder.

Did you know, the average human loses one pint of body fluid in an hour long hot tub sitting. Yuk! I can practically hear the clean freaks of the nation fighting to escape their hot tub. 

So it’s no wonder that the last few years have seen the rise of self cleaning hot tubs and swim spas. To combat the fears of uncleanliness. And make the experience of owning a hot tub relaxing. 

And let’s face it. A self cleaning hot tub would be pretty amazing. Imagine never having to worry about hot tub water maintenance.

But, what is a self cleaning hot tub?

Do you really not have to do ANY maintenance?

What is a self-cleaning hot tub or swim spa not?

We would really love to tell you that a self cleaning hot tub will do all the work for you. But sadly, a truly self cleaning hot tub or swim spa is the stuff of legends. 

All hot tubs and swim spas need some work. The only way you’ll never have to worry about hot tub cleaning or maintenance is to pay a professional to do it. 

Otherwise to keep a hot tub safe and clean you will need to:

  1. Test and adjust the hot tub chemical levels.
  2. Clean the hot tub filter.
  3. Drain down, clean and refill every few months.
 
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At best, a self cleaning hot tub can be thought of as a low maintenance hot tub. That’s why we hate the term self cleaning. Best case scenario, it’s misleading. And at worst it’s a lie. Sold to trick people into thinking they won’t need to carry out any hot tub maintenance. 

If you’re looking for something completely maintenance free, then a hot tub probably isn’t going to be for you.

But, that doesn’t mean hot tub maintenance has to be hard. Read our posts on how to easily and quickly keep your hot tub or swim spa clean.

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What is a self-cleaning hot tub or swim spa?

The good news is – all hot tubs are technically “self-cleaning”. In that they have built in filtration systems to keep the water clean. But they still need maintenance. 

But while you are looking for a hot tub or swim spa you’l see the words self cleaning a few times.

So, what does this really mean?

What are you getting if you buy a self cleaning hot tub?

There are a couple of features, that increase the cleanliness of the water. And earn a hot tub or swim spa the name of self cleaning (in some people’s eyes).

  1. Efficient hot tub filtration 
  2. Inline/ automatic dosing system
 

1. Efficient hot tub filtration

Coast Spas filterTraditionally, hot tubs use a method known as skim filtration. It’s not the cleanest. With skim filtration the filters sit in contact with the water, usually behind the big skimmer grille. The water hits into the filters where dirt and debris are captured. But, as the filters are in direct contact with the water, the dirt and debris is free to float back into the hot tub and swim spa water.

For a hot tub or swim spa to be classed as self cleaning, it needs to have pressurised filtration. With a fast turnover rate ie. 100% of the water is quickly passed through the filter system.

What does this look like for you?

In pressurised systems, the filters are housed completely separate from the water. This means once the dirt is caught, it is trapped. In addition, the water is drawn in through inlets and the skimmer grille, and pushed through the filter system. This means 100% of the water goes through the filter system, and not just the surface level that is drawn in through the skimmer. This results in a much more efficient filtration system. And a much cleaner hot tub and swim spa.

But, can we really class efficient filtration as self cleaning?

Technically, yes. The hot tub or swim spa passes it’s own water through an efficient filtration system. Effectively cleaning itself. But there is still work needed to keep the hot tub and swim spa water clean. 

 Verdict: Pressurised filtration is the most effective way to ensure a clean hot tub. No amount of chemicals will compensate for poor filtration. BUT you will still need to clean and maintain the hot tub. 

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2. Inline/automatic hot tub dosing systems

hot tub bacteriaInline/automatic dosing systems are often used in self cleaning hot tubs and swim spas. 

These sit within the filter or pipework and continually feed the water with chlorine or bromine. Which, is great. As it means there will likely always be a level of sanitiser in the water.

However, there is one other important factor necessary for keeping your hot tub clean and safe. Do you know what it is?

If you said pH you would be correct. While inline dosing systems offer a steady stream of sanitiser. They don’t account for pH at all. pH plays a really important role in water comfort. Plus an unbalanced pH can affect the effectiveness of the sanitiser. So by not checking and adjusting the pH. Not can you face issues with skin and eye irritation. But you can render the sanitiser that is being fed into the water useless. 

In addition to inline and automatic dosing systems not accounting for pH. They also don’t test the sanitiser levels. To ensure safe and clean hot tub and swim spa water we would always recommend that you test the sanitiser levels. Not only to make sure there is enough in their to kill the bacteria. But to make sure there isn’t too much.

So does an automatic or inline dosing system make your hot tub or swim spa self cleaning? You still have to check the sanitiser level and the pH level. And you will likely still have to add chemicals. So again I would say referring to them as self cleaning is misleading.

 Verdict: Inline dosing systems are great back-ups or failsafes. But they don’t test or adjust the sanitiser level. And they don’t account for the all important pH at all. Testing and dosing of chemicals will still be required. 

Three ways to reduce hot tub or swim spa maintenance

So, if self cleaning hot tubs and swims spas are a bit of a myth. What are some tried and tested ways that you can reduce the time you need to spend on maintenance?

  1. Efficient filtration
  2. Shower before using your hot tub or swim spa
  3. Install an ozone/UV system

1. Efficient pressurised filtration

Nothing will reduce the time spent on hot tub and swim spa maintenance as much as good filtration. And no amount of chemicals will be able to offset poor filtration.

So it’s essential that the efficiency of the filtration is considered during the buying process.

Look for a hot tub with pressurised filtration, so that 100% of the water is passed through the filtration system. 

2. Shower before using your hot tub or swim spa

It seems simple. But your hot tub isn’t a bath. Dead skin, fake tan, moisturiser and anything else on your body can clog the filter and affect the clarity and cleanliness of the water. To make your hot tub or swim spa easier to maintain. And to keep your filter cleaner and more efficient. Shower before using your hot tub or swim spa.

 

3. Install an Ozone of UV system

We still find people are being told Ozone systems or UV systems are primary sanitisation systems. This is not true. 

Both ozone and uv systems work within the pipework to help kill of bacteria. They are great secondary sanitisation systems. And they work along side chlorine or bromine to help keep you hot tub and swim spa bacteria free. Installing one of these in your hot tub will help reduce the number of chemicals you have to add. But will not eliminate the need. 

Do we sell self-cleaning hot tubs?

At this point you are probably thinking. Man.These guys really hate self cleaning hot tubs and swim spas. They clearly don’t sell them and have a bee in their bonnet.

Well every feature we have mentioned above is available on our Coast Spas hot tubs and swim spas. Either as standard. Or as a feature.

So, do we sell self cleaning hot tubs and swim spas? According to the standard definition, yes we do.

Would we ever sell them as self-cleaning? No! Because as I’ve already mentioned. I think it’s misleading. And potentially just a big fat lie.

We sell low maintenance hot tubs. We are always really clear about the level of maintenance that is required. As underestimating the level of maintenance needed with a hot tub or swim spa is one of the biggest mistakes that we see people make. And we don’t want anyone to make it with us.

FREE essential guide...

Hot tub buyer's guide

Want to know what four things we think are absolutely essential to know before you make the big hot tub purchase?

Download our FREE hot tub buyer's guide for hints and tips on what to look for.

By downloading this you are agreeing to our privacy policy

If you download this buyer's guide, we'll also send you some more emails on hot tubs or offers that you might love. You can unsubscribe at any time. And of course, we will NEVER sell your details to a third party. Powered by ConvertKit

In summary

Self cleaning hot tubs and swim spas might sound great. But in reality they fall far short of the mark.

While they can be considered lower maintenance than some traditional hot tubs. They do still require testing, dosing of chemicals, draining, cleaning a filing on a regular basis. 

When you’re looking for a hot tub, if you see self cleaning. Please just keep in mind that these will still require maintenance and at this point there is no such thing as maintenance free hot tub. But we can only dream for the future. 

If you want a hot tub with all the features of a self cleaning hot tub. But none of the BS. Come and visit us. We’re looking forward to it.

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Thinking about getting a hot tub or a swim spa. But have no idea where to start?

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Debbie Ekins
Debbie Ekins
Eagle Leisure - Sales & Marketing Manager Mission = to arm you with the knowledge you need to make the best buying decisions. Fuelled by coffee (and naps). Explorer of Scotland and the world.