Having issues with foam in your hot tub? This common problem isn’t necessarily an emergency, but that doesn’t mean it’s desirable — a thick layer of unidentifiable suds is a less-than-inviting look for what’s supposed to be a relaxing hydro-oasis.

Fortunately, getting rid of that foam and reclaiming your hot tub paradise isn’t too difficult. But first, you’ll need to know what causes this issue, how to avoid it, and what to do when it happens to you. This helpful guide will tell you all of that and more.

What Causes Hot Tub Foam?

Hot tub foam is most often caused by substances known as “surfactants.”

Surfactants are molecules found in various products, food items, and even our bodies. These molecules are incredibly sticky, and they’re responsible for the formation of the bubbles which hot tub foam is composed of.

Of course, water and air are both key ingredients in this formula, too, but they can’t cause foam without the presence of a surfactant.

hot tub with clear water without bubble and foam

Examples of Surfactants

How do these sticky molecules wind up in our hot tubs in the first place? They have many potential sources, including the following.

Bathing Suits

Surfactants, like those found in soap residues on bathing suits, can greatly affect your hot tub experience. These residues can interfere with the chemical balance of the tub, leading to excessive foam, cloudy water, and potentially even affecting the efficiency of the spa’s filtration system. To ensure an optimal and clean hot tub experience, it’s recommended to use a dedicated hot tub bathing suit, which is rinsed thoroughly of all detergents, or to simply soak without a suit. This small step can make a significant difference in maintaining the quality and longevity of your hot tub water.

Certain Drinks

Drinks containing alcohol, sugar, or both are major culprits when it comes to hot tub foam. They contain the necessary surfactants, are common accessories of the average hot tub gathering, and, in the case of alcohol, come with a tendency for spillage.

Banning beverages from the hot tub area altogether may be a tall ask, but just know that you run the risk of ending up with unsightly foam if you choose to sip in your spa.

Body Products

Certain body products are specifically designed to create foam, so it’s no wonder that getting them in your hot tub might be an issue. Items to be aware of when trying to avoid hot tub foam include shampoo and conditioner, hair products, deodorants, lotions, makeup, and soaps and detergents.

You may not be able to avoid keeping all of these products out of your tub, but if you’re careful about keeping your water balanced and your sanitizing chemicals at their necessary levels, it shouldn’t be a big issue.

The Human Body

Hot tub maintenance would probably be a much easier task if the human body weren’t a veritable surfactant factory.

Over time, the oils and skin cells you shed regularly can build up in your tub and cause various issues, including foam. Balanced water chemistry and sanitizing chemicals can go a long way here, so make sure you stay on top of things.

man relaxing in hot tub

Eliminating Hot Tub Foam

If you’re currently dealing with hot tub foam, don’t despair. There are some simple ways to eliminate this issue and get back to soaking in paradise as quickly as possible.

Test Your Water

Maintaining balanced water is crucial for ensuring an enjoyable hot tub experience for several reasons. Preventing or eliminating foam is one of them. If you’re being bombarded by foam, it’s a good idea to test your water chemistry and take note of the conditions which cause foam in the first place. 

Note that the Total Dissolved Solids metric, or TDS, is essentially a measurement of the surfactants in your spa. Keeping your current TDS number in mind can help you gauge just how close to foaming up your hot tub may be.

Drain and Clean Your Tub

Sometimes, the best method for getting rid of foam is to simply empty your tub, clean it out, and start over. This is something you should be doing once every three or four months anyway, so if it’s been longer than that since you’ve done a deep clean, it may explain why your tub is foamy in the first place.

Use Defoamer Products

Draining and cleaning a hot tub is a fairly extensive project, and you may not be fully prepared to do it at a moment’s notice. If that’s the case, you can also use a defoamer for a quick, easy fix.

A quality defoamer like Spa Boss helps dissolve foam-forming substances in your tub so you can get your water back to being clear and inviting.

Need Help With Your Spa?

Great Bay Spa & Sauna can help you achieve and maintain the crystal-clear hot tub water you’re dreaming of. Contact us today to learn more.