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How to Get Rid of Mildew on Hot Tub Pillows

Matt Giovanisci, Founder and CEO of Swim University By Matt Giovanisci | July 23, 2020

Your long, relaxing soak in the hot tub just wouldn’t be the same without a comfy hot tub pillow under your head, would it? Let’s face it, spa shells aren’t the most comfortable things to lean your head on.

Unfortunately, with the wet, steamy environment created by your spa, you may eventually also find mold on your hot tub pillows, and no one wants to lean their head against that. It may not even be visible yet. You may just be noticing a musty smell when you sit in your spa. Either way, it’s time to gear up, clean up and send that mold packing.

Why Is There Mold on My Hot Tub Pillows?

Real talk time. Is it possible you haven’t been cleaning your hot tub as often as you should? If so, you pretty much put out the welcome mat, allowing mold to take hold. But even if you do clean on a regular basis, mold may still develop. It’s pretty much inevitable in a moist environment. You clean your bathtub, too, but probably still find mold there from time to time.

By the way, you may also hear some people say they have mildew on their hot tub pillows. Mildew is a fungal hyphae that will grow on almost any type of organic material if the environment is damp and moist. When it grows, it forms a thin white coating over the surfaces it clings to.

It doesn’t really matter, though, because either way, the process to get rid of it is the same.

What You’ll Need

Before you begin, collect the proper tools to remove the mold from your hot tub pillows. You most likely already have them around the house.

Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner

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Grease up Those Elbows

Not gonna lie, this cleaning process will take some time as you need to make sure you clean every inch of the pillows, including every little nook and cranny.

Remove the Hot Tub Pillows

Following the instructions in the manufacturer’s manual, remove the pillows from the hot tub and set them aside.

Prepare a Cleaning Solution

Add 13 ounces of the cleaning concentrate for every gallon of water. This will create a 1:10 solution appropriate for a high-moisture environment.

Clean the Pillow Areas on the Hot Tub

Dip the soft brush or sponge into the cleaning solution, and gently scrub the surfaces to remove the mold and mildew.

Clean the Covers

Continue using the sponge or brush to clean the covers. Once you’ve thoroughly scrubbed them, get the small cleaning brush out. You’ll need to clean every little part of the pillow in order to make sure you get rid of all the mold. If you’re not careful, the mold will just come right back.

Clean the Foam Encasements

Continue using the brush and cleaning solution to clean the foam encasements. This part is very important as they are used to protect and seal the hot tub. If they’re not properly cleaned, bacteria could more easily enter your hot tub causing more mildew to grow, or worse, contaminating the water.

Now that everything’s clean, you need to disinfect. That’s the only way to completely get rid of the mold on the hot tub pillows.

Prepare a Second Cleaning Solution

Put on the safety goggles and gloves. It’s also a good idea to wear pants and a long-sleeved shirt to avoid getting any disinfecting solution on your skin. Then, mix ⅓ cup of bleach per gallon of room-temperature water.

Also, make sure you use bleach that has a 5% to 6% concentration of sodium hypochlorite, a substance similar to what you use to shock your hot tub. Also make sure the bleach isn’t expired. Yup, bleach expires! If it’s past the expiration date, it won’t sanitize as well, if at all.

Bleach - 121 oz. - 3 Pack
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Disinfect Everything

The pillow areas on the shell, the pillow covers and the foam encasements all need to be thoroughly wiped down with the bleach solution.

Allow the Hot Tub Pillows to Air Dry

Wiping them dry isn’t enough. You need to let them sit out for a while to completely dry. Putting them back wet is just another invitation for more mold to start growing.

It’s best to let them dry outside in a sunny spot. Ultraviolet light kills mold. Just know that it’s not enough to put the pillows out in the sun to remove the mold, though. You must clean and disinfect them first. They’d have to be out in the sun for a long time for the ultraviolet light alone to do the job.

Reassemble the Pillows

Before you put everything back together, double-check that every part is completely dry and that you can no longer see—or smell—any mold on the hot tub pillows.

Then, reassemble them, put them back in the hot tub, and get ready for some serious soakin’!

Don’t Let That Mold Get Old

If you find mold on your hot tub pillows—or anywhere else in your spa—don’t put off getting rid of it. Mold grows, and as it does, it becomes more and more difficult to eradicate. Better to clean the pillows than have to buy new ones, right?

So keep your eyes—and your nose—open for signs of mold and mildew. The more quickly you address it, the easier your job will be.

Happy Soaking!

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Matt Giovanisci, Founder and CEO of Swim University
Matt Giovanisci is the founder of Swim University® and has been in the pool and spa industry since 1993. Since then, his mission is to make pool and hot tub care easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.
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