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Cloudy Spa or Hot Tub Water

Dealing with the many causes of this common spa problem.
The Pool and Spa Informational Website or

Possible Causes and Effective Solutions.


Scroll down to browse through some archived SPA and Hot Tub questions and answers.  Please click the Spa Problems Link, on top of every page, to access a complete listing of Spa and Hot Tub Problem subjects, an alphabetized Website Table of Contents, Spa and Hot Tub Equipment Information, About Alan Biographic Material and a Spa and Hot Tub Glossary. Use the other links to access additional subject information. More information about some new and unique products, for Spas and Hot Tubs, can be found by visiting The Website Store. You'll never know what you'll find and that's always fun. Be better prepared and avoid costly problems!


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A ColorQ 2X is a 2nd generation, Bluetooth, Waterproof, all-digital tester, that can measure all the common test factors. There is a model, for every sanitizing need.  The MetalTrap 1-Micron Filter removes ultra-fine micro-contaminants, including sulfur.  An Automatic Filter Cartridge Cleaner will save time and effort and get your filter cartridge, cleaner than ever.
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If you have a pool or spa water testing need, we should have the product.
Scroll down to read through some Question & Answer information.


How to keep your spa or swim-spa water crystal-clear?

Cloudiness is one of the most frequent problems that a spa or hot tub owner will encounter. There is no one cause of cloudy, murky, milky, gray, hazy or dull spa or hot tub water problems: suspended insoluble particles, dead algae, organic debris, poor or inadequate filtration, inadequate sanitation, poor water chemistry, poor source water quality, vandalism and more, all have to be factored into the treatment. A spa water color problem is frequently with presence of heavy metals and may or may not be associated with cloudy spa water conditions. Foamy spa conditions, resulting from the aeration of soaps formed by body oils and cosmetic residues reacting with the natural alkalinity of the water, can detract from optimum water clarity. Most spas and hot tubs do maintain clear water conditions, with good water clarity. For those occasional problems, many chemical products and non-chemical devices are available that help to restore the water quality to crystal clear.  If problems arise, refer to the Spa Problems Page, as a source of problem-solving information, broken down into various categories. Scroll down the page and click on the linked keywords, catch phrases or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.

Do you know what's in your water?  If you're having problems, with sanitation or water clarity, testing allows you to better understand the chemistry and determine the cause of the problem.  Once understood, you can select the best treatment option.  Understanding the nature of the problem, should be step one.  For information about our full selection of testing options, visit our Test Equipment Store.

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▼     Helpful, Problem-Solving Information, in a question and answer format.     ▼

Spa Water Has Gone Hazy?

Hi Alan. My spa has developed a milky white haze in the water. You can still see the bottom through the hazy water, but in the direct sunlight I donít think you will be able to.  I have only ever seen this after a big session, where all sorts of impurities like alcohol etc. end up in the water.  Normally I would simply dump the water and start again but we are having water restrictions due to the drought conditions here in Australia and we are not permitted to refill spa's or pools or even wash our cars with a hose. It is a 1500 litre outdoor spa and I sanitise it with bromine tablets in a floating type chlorinator.  It is tiled with dark blue tiles, which make it easier to see the haze in the water.  I regularly use a test kit to test free chlorine (DPD tablets), pH, alkalinity and acid demand.  I usually keep the bromine level about 5, pH about 7.7 and alkalinity between 80-120.

What happened:
One day about 2 months ago, I tested the water and the bromine level had jumped well up above 11, so I left the brominator out for a few weeks until the level had come down. Then over the next month I progressively closed the brominator down to maintain the bromine level at about 4. The brominator was now practically closed but still maintaining a normal level! Last week I looked at the water and it looked a little bit hazy, so I ran the filter for longer than normal. This week the water is really hazy, so I did a bromine check and it is 0. The pH is about 7.2 and the alkalinity is about 70ppm. Why the bromine is now so low I do not know, I suspect that I may have had a bromine tablet which was very strong and this is what caused the bromine level to go so uncharacteristically high a few months ago, and now that that tablet has finally dissolved the brominator was closed way too far.

What I did:
So I opened the brominator back up to where it was a few months ago, and shocked the water with about 100g of chlorine, cleaned the filter and ran the filter for about 6 hours, but with no luck.  I found that, when I turned the blower on, the water foams a lot, which is not normal.  I cleaned the filter again afterwards, but it was still basically clean.  The water is still as milky as it was before I started. I have never used a water clarifier before because I have never found them necessary.  Do you think this might be a solution to my problem? And do you think the 100g of chlorine would be enough to make the water safe to use again? Regards.

Michael, Australia, 1/20/2021

I'm afraid that there is no clear cut answer to the problem, as you are describing it. However, there are some very good possibilities. The drought has prevented you from changing the water. Not knowing how long the water has been in use and what the calcium hardness level is, leaves open the possibility that the water is too high in calcium hardness and/or total dissolved solids. Have the water tested to determine, if there is a problem with these parameters. The fact that water worsened, after the bromine level bottomed out, allows for the possibility that a bacterial slime caused the cloudiness. The subsequent additions of chlorine and bromine may have only partially decomposed the bacteria.  The fact that your water is foaming, beyond what you consider normal, points to another possibility. Heavy bather use can introduce high levels of body oils and cosmetic residues and this can lead to cloudiness. In addition, the natural alkalinity of the water can cause these oils to form "soaps" and this will lead directly to increased foaming.  It is not possible that the bromine tablet was too strong! A hundred grams of chlorine is a significant amount in a spa of your size. Even though you are adding chlorine, you must test for bromine, as the chlorine will convert to bromine. I would not recommend using the spa unless the bromine level is within safe limits and has been there for at least 30 minutes. When using a floating brominator, try and keep a reasonable level of tablets in the feeder at all times. Do not allow all the tablets to dissolve before adding more. This will allow for low levels of bromine and the possibility of poor sanitation.  While bromine alone can provide good results, having an ozonator will make it much easier. It will reduce chemical usage and allow you to maintain a lower and more comfortable bromine level.  If this website was helpful, in solving your problem, please consider joining our E-Letter Mailing List.  You'll receive E-Letters, with helpful information, new product updates, suggestions and sale announcements. I hope that I have provided enough information to point you in the right direction. Good luck.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 1/20/2021

High Efficiency Filter Cartridge?

I am debating switching my regular filter to a disposable micro filter. It was independently tested and is 94% efficient, at removing particles at 1 micron. With this filter, you are supposed to get rid of using defoamers, decalcifiers, basically any liquids normally added to the tub. The filters will last 2-4 months and are about $30. Less expensive than using all the other materials. According to the company, it will remove all particles that can cause damage to the hot tub. Of course, you still need to have sanitizer in the tub. Just wondering if you had an info or thoughts on these filters. The spa manufacturer, in my city, sells all their tubs with these filters and has for over 3 years. Thanks in advance of your thought. Cheers

Derek, Canada, 1/14/2020

Depending upon the quality of your source water a high efficiency filter cartridge can make a significant difference. It will certainly r
#2086 ColorQ 2X - 2nd Generation Pool/Spa Testeremove very small particulates and some microorganisms. It will not make the water in the spa sanitary and will not remove salts that are in true solution. Organic wastes, byproducts, body oils and other contaminants, can pass right through filters.  Better filtration should improve water quality and reduce the need for some or most of the accessory chemicals. You will still have to maintain a proper sanitizer level and keep the pH, TA and calcium hardness within acceptable ranges. There is no doubt that this type of filter is better than the standard spa cartridges, but they can't remove everything.  good water tester can go a long way towards helping to maintain proper chemistry, which will effect the over water clarity and quality.  The ColorQ 2X water analyzers are all-digital, easy to use and eliminate all color-matching and guesswork.  I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 1/14/2020

Cloudy Spa Water?

Before using the spa, the water is always clear. After using it for about 20 minutes the water is cloudy. I use bromine to sanitize. Is that normal? Thank you.

Josh, Ellenville, NY, 1/15/2009

BlasterAutomatic Filter Cartridge Cleaners for pools and spas.
It is hard to be very specific with so little information. If your spa had a sanitizer level prior to your entering the water, it under
standable that the water would be clear. Twenty minutes later, a lot of body oils, dead skin and sweat has been introduced into the water. At this point, the sanitizer level has been reduced or depleted. I suggest that after using the spa, you test the water. If there is little sanitizer present, it would a good idea to add a quick dissolving shock: a non-chlorine product is usually a good choice.  This will help boost the bromine level and help restore clarity. Are you maintaining a bromine level of 3-5 PPM?   Your spa most likely has a cartridge filter and it has to be cleaned on a regular basis. An easy way to clean the filter is with THE BLASTER. It is an automatic cartridge filter cleaner that simply attaches to a garden hose. I hope that I have been of assistance. Enjoy the spa?
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 1/15/2009

Remaining Cloudy?

We use a biguanide chemical system for our spa. We have had cloudy water for the past few weeks. We bring in water samples and they are good. We bought a new filter but the water remains cloudy. Any ideas that can help fix up our water? Thanks.

Bob E., 10/4/2012

The prolonged use of biguanide can lead to the development of sanitizer resistant microorganisms, after a few years of product us
ChlorMaker Drape-Over Salt Chlorine Generator, for spas and swim spas.e. This type of problem borders on the inevitable and while it might not be the cause of the current problem, it has to be considered a possibility. Try adding shock and a blue clarifier to the spa. If the water fails to improve, the resistant microorganism possibility becomes more likely. The only recourse is to drain and clean the spa and permanently switch to another type of sanitizing. People that use biguanide frequently do so in order to avoid obvious chemical sanitizing. If that is the case, you should consider installing an ozonator and using bromine or a salt chlorine generator, as a backup. The use of ozone will provide much better water quality without an overbearing chemical presence and the use of a backup sanitizer will afford greater protection. This sanitizing approach is far less likely to allow the development of a sanitizer-resistant microorganism.  I hope that this information will prove to be useful. If was helpful in providing information, please tell your friends and dealers about the website.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/5/2012

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Needs Clearing Up?

Hey Alan!! You helped me out several years ago on many occasions with your useful answers concerning my pool (my giant chemistry set). Now, I have a spa question - my new giant chemistry set. I have a brand new 6-seat Spa (370 gallons) and am starting chemicals (a Bromine system). Iím up on scale & stain and the proper levels on bromine, pH, Alkalinity and Iíve shocked it once (basically, all the start-up chemicals). The test strip looks great. A defoamer product took care of lots of foam and thatís all good now. The water is still pretty cloudy. The chemicals have been in about 3 days. Thereís no mention of an algaecide or flocking agents or anything like that on the spa side like I use on my pool. So how do I clear up the water? Thanks! Warm and cloudy.

John M., 11/11/2012

Algaecides are not normally used in a spa, unless the unit is left uncovered and there are recurring algae problems. Flock is not something I go out of
my way to recommend, even in a pool.  It is possible that water chemistry factors have conspired to cause the cloudiness: check the pH, TA and calcium hardness level. If everything checks out right and the bromine levels have remained normal, I would try an keep the bromine levels closer to 5 PPM. This type of chemical can help digest organic debris and wastes that might be contributing to the problem.  I hope that this information will prove helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/11/2012

Pink Spa Water Color?

My new Spa (about 8 weeks old) has developed a pinkish color (very faint). I am wondering what could have caused it. The alkaline and pH balance is just fine (maybe pH could be a bit lower). And my bromine level is very low. I've got several tablets floating around for about 1 week, but can't seem to bring it up to the right level yet. I tried to shock the water and also added a couple of capfuls of Water Clarifier. It seems to have helped a lot, but the pink is still slightly there. Any idea how to bring up the bromine level, and get rid of the pinkish color forever? PS. I live in N. California. If that makes a difference. Thanks.

Smeeta G., California, 10/7/2015

SmarterSpa Salt Chlorine Generator for Spas.
While it possible that some combination of trace minerals is responsible for the discoloration, it is more likely that this is a bacterial problem, caused by inadequate sanitation. I base this on the fact that you are unable to maintain a satisfactory bromine level and are using slow-dissolving bromine
tablets. There's nothing wrong with the bromine, but it doesn't play catch-up very well. You must keep adding shock, until you get a bromine level that remains in the 3-5 PPM range for an overnight period. Thereafter, keep the bromine dispenser as full as possible and use shock to quickly boost the level or restore it after periods of usage. A Salt Chlorine Generator will make the task of spa sanitizing much easier and reduce the overall chemical usage.  We have several models, that require no installation and some are smart enough, to only produce chlorine, when it is actually needed.  I hope that I have been helpful. Enjoy the spa.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/7/2015

How to Prevent and Treat Cloudy Spa Water problems.

Maintain proper water chemistry, with an all-digital ColorQ tester.
Use a salt Chlorine Generator for better control,  with fewer chemical byproducts.
Keep a cleaner filter cartridge, for reduced chlorine consumption.
Monitor your salt level, for optimum salt chlorine generator performance.
A 1-Micron Pre-Filter attaches to the filling hose and removes micro-contaminants.
#2086 ColorQ 2X - 2nd Generation Pool/Spa Tester MegaChlor salt chlorine generator for spas, swim spas and pools up to 10,000 gallons. Automatic Filter Cartridge Cleaner #1749 PockeTester Kit MetalTrap 1-Micron Pre-Filters, for Pools and Spas.
Use an all-digital ColorQ tester, for easy testing and reliable results. A salt chlorine generator better control and reduces buildup problems. This automatic filter cartridge cleaner will remove dirt and sediments. Salt the salt level is and easy as it gets, with this dip and read tester. A 1-Micron Pre-Filter can simply attach to a garden hose and remove sediments.
Click on any image for complete product and ordering information.

Biofilm Accumulations?

My spa was drained and shut down for about 6 weeks waiting on a repairman. After refilling it I noticed stuff floating in the water after turning the jets off. It almost looks like large pieces of dead skin. I guess it is some kind of algae or pipe scum. I have drained and cleaned it over 8 or 9 times, using a shop-vac to suck out all the jets, I have used a "slime" product about 5 times. I have let the jets run for hours on end trying to filter it out, and I still keep getting this crap as soon as I refill it and turn the jets on. Could you please tell me what I can get to get rid of this "pipe scum." It is breaking me up in water bills and chemical bills. I've not been able to get in my spa for over a year now. PLEASE HELP my family and I are begging. Thanks.

Todd R., Burgin, Kentucky, 11/18/2009

#2086 ColorQ 2X - 2nd Generation Pool/Spa Tester
It sounds like you have an accumulation of dead microorganisms in your lines. I suggest that you boost the chlorine or bromine
level to 10 PPM and keep it elevated until all of this biofilm has been decomposed. Keep the filter operating and maintain proper water chemistry. Once enough chlorine has been added to decompose all of the debris, you should be able to resume normal operations. For free chlorine testing, I suggest using LaMotte a ColorQ 2X Digital Water Tester, as it provides the right kind of information, while eliminating color-matching and guesswork. To better assure proper overall spa water chemistry, visit a pool/spa store that has a very reliable, professional lab such as a WaterLink SpinTouch Lab, rather than a less accurate test kit or strip reader.  I hope that I have been of help.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/18/2009

Suffering With Scale?

We live in a hard water area. I've had problems with my spa due to scale forming. Besides the scale deposits, I've had white flakes shooting out of the returns. Any suggestions?

J. H., Mesa, AZ, 5/6/2007

Magnetic Water Conditioner, for pools and spas.
You could fill you spa with soft water, that is if you have one. Some manufacturers recommend against using soften water,
but if you adjust all of the spa water chemistry parameters - especially the calcium hardness, pH and total alkalinity - to within normal suggested ranges, there should be no problems. You could add a calcium sequestering agent and try to keep the pH closer to 7.2 and the TA, if possible, within 80-120 PPM. A spa water magnetizer or magnetic water conditioner is another possibility. This strap-on device has been reported to help reduce spa calcium scaling problems, as well as improve some other spa water parameters. I hope that I have given you some options. Good luck.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/6/2007

Looking Bad?

We were gone for the entire summer and the spa was left with only a bromine floater. It now looks like yuck! What do you suggest? Thanks for the help.

Ken G., Fayetteville, NC, 9/7/2008

I suggest that you start draining the water and do some rinsing with a garden hose. Clean out the filter and replace. Refill
with fresh water and add a double or triple dose of a quick dissolving chlorine or non-chlorine shock. Make sure that the pH is 7.2-7.6. Keep the Free Chlorine level high and the filter operating. Retest frequently and add more shock, as required. Eventually, the chlorine will destroy all of the "yuck" that developed on the walls, in the plumbing, in the filter and in the nooks and crannies. When things clear up, empty the spa and rinse off everything in sight. Now, you are ready to start from scratch. With a little time and effort, you should end up with crystal clear spa water.  I hope that I have been helpful. Good luck.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/7/2008

The Spa Has The Blues?

We recently brought a home with an existing spa. It looked okay, water clear and everything when we moved in. Two weeks after we moved in we added some chlorine and pH chemicals that we purchased from a local dealer. Within a week the water was extremely blue, there is sediment on the bottom of the spa that is blue and our fingernails turned blue after getting in. (We had not noticed all of this before getting in the spa, our blue fingernails alerted us to the unusual color). The local dealer is telling us that it is the heater and because of the imbalance of pH our heater is about to "tank" and the blue is from the copper tube. This spa and heater are less than two years old. Could this dealer be right. What action should we take? Will draining the spa and changing the filters help us? It appears that my grey hot tub is now stained blue, is there anything that will take the blue off the spa liner? Will our spa ever be safe for us to enter after it is cleaned and restarted with new chemicals.

Cathy G., 3/17/2016

The dealer is correct! The cause of the problem was corrosion to the heater, that resulted from low pH condi
tions and the presenceMetalTrap Stain Reversal Kit, for pools and spas. of chlorine or bromine. Hopefully, the heater was not fatally destroyed. Fill the spa up and make sure that there is no chlorine present or at most a few tenths of a PPM. Add 1/2-1 pound MetalTrap Stain Remover, to the water and make sure that the pH is about 6.8. Allow to recirculate. Add more MetalTrap Stain Remover, as needed, until the discoloration has been dissolved. Drain and thoroughly clean the spa.  Refill and add a double dose of a quality metal treatment, such as Liquid MetalTrap, which is a true chelating agent and is effective over a broad pH range. Resume normal spa sanitizing and make sure that the pH remains in the 7.2-7.6 range. Discuss how the spa was being sanitized with the dealer, as this might have been part of the problem. I hope that this information will prove helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/18/2016

From Clear To Cloudy Water?

I added a product that is supposed to lock in the pH of a spa and make it more stable. I followed the directions, but I ended up with very hazy spa water. The dealer said that my pH must have been too high to start. Some help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Bill D., Celebration, FL, 2/5/2009

While it is possible that the pH was too high to start with, the real cause of the problem is most likely due to the natural hardness of the water. These products should not be used if the calcium hardness is above 300 PPM. Even at levels between 200-300 PPM, clarity problems can result, depending upon the pH and total alkalinity. Personally, I suggest that you do not use such a product, if the calcium hardness o
f Liquid MetalTrapthe spa water is above 200 PPM. Your filter should be able to remove the particles. The addition of one of those "Blue" Clarifiers should help speed up the removal of the suspended particles and help eliminate the spa water cloudiness problem. These liquid clarifiers can be good short term solutions. After the water is clear, thoroughly clean the filter, with a hose. An even easier way to clean the filter is with THE BLASTER. It is an automatic cartridge filter cleaner that simply attaches to a garden hose. Afterwards, you might want to soak the cartridge in a solution made with a Spa Filter Cleaner. The best products to use are acidic cleaners formulated with low-foaming detergents. If the walls and bottom are coated white, you might be better off draining and cleaning the spa and starting over. In the future, you should stabilize or "lock in" your pH by maintaining the total alkalinity at 80-120 PPM. In addition, you might want to add a dose of Liquid Metal Trap, in order to help keep calcium and other minerals from precipitating and causing cloudiness or discoloration. The pH Buffer Products work very well in soft water areas. However, in hard water areas, there is a possibility of causing a cloudy, hazy or dull spa water problem. I hope that I have been helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/5/2009

Hard Water Causing Cloudiness - Can Use Softened Water?

I'm hoping you can help me with this one. I have had a hot tub for three months. The water tends to go cloudy after a few weeks. We've changed the water twice already as a result, thinking it was full of too many dissolved solids. (We did use it an awful lot in the first month!) With this third filling of water, we had a malfunction of our temperature gauge, and so left the tub alone for a week while we waited for a repairman. During that week I watched the water go cloudy, despite us not bathing in it or adding any chemicals. The pH tends to drift high (to 7.8-8.2), and the TA is always high (240 ppm at least) - we live in an area with lots of dissolved minerals, including calcium (always over 1000 ppm total hardness). So, I began wondering if some of those minerals were coming out of solution and that was causing the cloudiness. Googling 'saturation' and 'hot tub' brought me to your website and the Langelier index. But now I'm stumped. It seems that I need to bring down the TA and the pH. How do I bring down the TA? And 2nd question: Our hot tub company tells us to fill the tub with city water, rather than the softened water we use in our house, so the dishes and laundry don't get covered with deposits. I wonder, if we should perhaps do half and half? I'd appreciate your thoughts. 

Sophie, F., Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 4/12/2007

By all means use the softened water!  Your water is very hard and could contain dissolved metals. Otherwise, you could
ColorQ all-digital water analyzers, for pools and spas. continuously be in a heap of trouble. After the spa is filled take a sample into a local dealer for a water analysis. If you use 10% city water and 90% softened water, you should have to do very little. You might not need even need to adjust the calcium hardness, to compensate for the use for softened water. Test the water to be sure and adjust, if necessary. Check the pH and TA and adjust, as necessary. Once done, it should be treated like any other spa. The dealer was wrong in his thinking. Using mostly softened water will allow you to obtain a proper hardness level (150-200 PPM) and avoid, cloudiness and scaling and filtration issues. This lower hardness should avoid cloudy issues, so long as proper sanitation and filtration are maintained.  A good, reliable water tester will help keep your chemistry in the right ranges, improving water quality, bather comfort and helping to protect your heater. I suggest an all-digital ColorQ Tester. I hope that this information will help clarify the subject.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/12/2007

Floating White Particles?

We recently purchased a home which has an above ground spa. Unfortunately we were not left any reference materials related to the spa. It has been cleaned, but we are still seeing small black and viscous white particles floating throughout the water, no one has used the spa since we moved in. I assumed that the filter would take care of this, but the particles are still there. Is there something that we can do about this as we REALLY want to use our spa. Thank you for any advice that you can offer.

Angela G., 5/8/2009

What you are describing is the flaking off of scale and copper corrosion deposits from the heater coil. The white particles are calcium carbonate and the dark ones are probably oxidized copper. I suggest that you add a dose of a calcium scale treatment and a quality metal treatment, such as Liquid MetalTrap, which is a true chelating agent. These products should help end the problem within a few days. Have the water tested for copper and calcium hardness, as this will provide insight into the problem. If the problems continue, you may want to do the following. Allow the chlorine level to zero out. Lower the pH to about 6.0 and keep recirculating the water. When there seems to be no more white particles, drain and clean the spa. Refill, add a dose of a calcium scale treatment and resume normal operation. Depending upon the type of filter that you have, calcium minerals can be passing right through the filter. I hope that this information proves helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/9/2009

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