You’ve looked forward to that after-dinner hot tub soak all day. You know that the fresh, clean, jetted water will ease away the tensions, soothe your nerves, and make you feel like everything is right in your world. You’ve donned your suit, grabbed your towel, and opened the cover. You can’t wait to get in. And then you stop. You peer into your spa and ask, “Why is my hot tub water cloudy?” Your vision of a soak in your clean, fresh therapeutic spa has been shattered. What to do?  

In this article we’ll look at six possible reasons why your hot tub water is cloudy and what you can do to make it fresh again.  

7 Reasons Why Your Hot Tub Water Could Be Cloudy and What to Do About It 

As you gaze into the murky water that was clear the last time you took a soak, you may wonder if this cloudy version is safe. Murky doesn’t always mean dirty or unsafe, but it’s definitely not desirable. To ensure you and your family are safe, it’s best to immediately diagnosis the problem and address it before it worsens. We’ll walk you through seven possible causes and provide solutions for each.   

1. Not Enough Sanitizer  

hot tub test strip held up by hand over green background

The first thing you’ll want to do is test the water with a test strip to see if you have sufficient chlorination, and check your spa’s control panel, where applicable, to see if your ion or salt cartridge is due for replacement. If the sanitizer is low, this is an easy fix. You may have to add more than usual to “shock” the water back to sanitary and clear levels. Replace the cartridge, if it’s due. If your chlorine level is not especially low, and your cartridge isn’t due to be replaced, then it it’s time to take a look at all of the other things that test strip is telling you about the balance of your spa’s water.  

2. Too Much Calcium 

The test strip will also tell you about calcium levels and pH balance. If your water is cloudy, you could have an elevated calcium level. When calcium is in high concentration in water, it doesn’t dissolve. It clumps together and causes scaling and cloudy water. If your calcium level exceeds 300 parts per million (ppm), it could be the source of the cloudy water. Luckily, it’s an easy fix. A de-scaling agent can be added to the water. Ask your hot tub dealer for a product that’s right for your tub. Calcium scaling can damage critical components, so it needs to be kept under control. If you have a FreshWater Salt system, Creative Energy has a product called Vanishing Act. See product information for instructions.  

3. pH Imbalance 

The pH and total alkalinity of your spa needs to be in balance for your water to be clear and safe, respond well to the other chemicals, and increase the life of your hot tub’s inner workings. If your pH is out of balance, you can add the appropriate chemical balancer to raise or lower the pH. This is a common issue, so keeping both types of pH corrector on hand is a good practice.  

4. Personal Care Products 

Young woman in bathrobe with towel around her head puts lotion on her legs while sitting on bed.

Everything we put on our skin can end up in the spa, unless everyone showers before every soak, which isn’t always practical. Over time, these oils, lotions, soap residue, salves, and creams can make the spa water cloudy, foamy or both. The more of these products enter the water, the harder the filter and sanitation chemicals need to work to combat them. Special enzymes and defoamers can help address this issue, refreshing and de-clouding your water.  

5. Well or Hard Water   

Freshwater Clean Screen Pre-Filter

If you have especially hard water or well water, the increased levels of minerals, metals and contaminants can make the water appear murky, no matter what you’ve tried. The good news is you don’t have to truck water in. There is a prefilter you can attach to your hose when you fill your spa. It will filter out the impurities that can make your water look cloudy. In addition, a water clarifier can be a handy product to address the smaller particles that are too small for the filter. It will bind smaller particles into a size that the filter can address and keep your water clear and fresh.  

6. Air in the System 

technician greeting client from seat of van with door open upon arriving at home.

If the water level on your spa is too close to the highest jet, air can get into the system which can cause the water to appear cloudy. Try adding water to the spa. If you have air bubbles in your system and the water level isn’t low, it may be from a leak in your return system, which is anything before the circulation pump. A leak could be caused by a loose fitting or even a loose pump drain plug. A hot tub technician can find and fix these types of leaks. 

7. Equipment or Filter Issues 

Filters require periodic cleaning to continue to perform at peak efficiency and replacement on a schedule provided by your spa’s manufacturer. If everything else has been ruled out, there may be a problem with your spa’s equipment. A hot tub technician can diagnose and fix problems with your pump or other system components.  

Still Need Help? Call a Professional 

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Having fresh, clear water in your spa is important for the safety of you and your family, the enjoyment of your spa, and the longevity of your spa. If your water is cloudy, it could be any of these seven reasons, or even a combination of two or more. If that list of reasons why your hot tub water might be cloudy has you overwhelmed, Creative Energy is here to help. Let our expert technicians help you with a service, routine hot tub cleaning, or even guide you to the right chemical solution for your situation.