How to properly clean a jetted tub
Before we get into the problems with improperly cleaned jetted tubs, let’s make it clear that the tubs are perfectly safe to use if cleaned properly!
To fully understand the problem, one must understand the complexities of biofilm, the slime formed in the tubs plumbing system. When the tub is used, and the jets are turned on, biofilm disperses (breaks loose) and enters the tub raising the bacteria level, along with other contaminants, in the tub.
Here is an excerpt from Wikepedia that explains the structure of biofilm and resistance to the wrong cleaning products:
“The biofilm is held together and protected by a matrix of secreted polymeric
compounds called EPS. EPS is an abbreviation for either extracellular polymeric substance
. This matrix protects the cells within it and facilitates communication among them through biochemical signals. Some biofilms have been found to contain water channels that help distribute nutrients
and signaling molecules.
This matrix is strong enough that under certain conditions, biofilms can become fossilized
). Bacteria living in a biofilm usually have significantly different properties from free- floating bacteria of the same species, as the dense and protected environment of the film allows them to cooperate and interact in various ways. One benefit of this environment is increased resistance to detergents
, as the dense extracellular matrix and the outer layer of cells protect the interior of the community. In some cases antibiotic resistance can be increased a thousand fold.”
Proper cleaning of jetted tubs may prevent illnesses such as the dangerous staph infections, pneumonia, legionella (Legionnaire’s Disease) E. coli, pseudomonas, respiratory illnesses, skin infections, mold and fungus problems, etc.! The lodging industry must concern itself with legionella because jetted tubs are not chlorinated while is use so this should be a concern for avoiding Legionnaire’s Disease. If the tub has high levels of bacteria, the users will be bathing in, and breathing high levels of mold and bacteria. This could easily lead to respiratory problems. The stagnant water in in the jetted tubs plumbing lines is great place for bacteria to grow and grow because it is protected by what is called biofilm. Biofilm or commonly called slime, protects, feeds and houses bacteria.
Biofilm is very difficult to remove. Products that claim to clean jetted tubs should have efficacy testing to insure the product performs as indicated. Cooling towers, a similar situation to jetted tubs, have been using biofilm removal chemicals for years. Standard cleaning chemicals like bleach (sodium hypochlorite), dishwasher detergents, vinegar, etc., will not safely clean jetted tubs because these products can’t penetrate and remove biofilm, they will actually worsen the situation and the biofilm matrix will become stronger and safely house higher levels of bacteria. See the University of Bozeman’s Center For Biofilm Engineering for more information.
It takes specialty chemicals to safely remove the biofilm and bacteria from the tubs plumbing lines.