How to Get Rid of Mildew on Hot Tub Pillows

by Matt Giovanisci | Last Updated: August 27, 2015

Who doesn’t love a good hot tub pillow? Hot tub pillows really round out the perfect hot tub and go a long way to making your hot tub soaks that much more comfortable.

Unfortunately, a hot tub is a very wet and steamy environment and the pillows on hot tubs become prime candidates for mildew. If you have noticed that musty smell on your pillows or even seen mildew beginning to form on your pillows, you need to take the proper steps right away to get rid of it.

Unfortunately again, there is no magical solution to getting rid of mildew, although it is a job you can easily do yourself using a few cleaning agents and tools that you probably have setting around your house. Once you collect the ingredients, all it takes is a little elbow grease for you to clean those pillows and get rid of that pesky mildew that is forming.

What Is Mildew?

How many of you know exactly what mildew is? I know you all know that smell. But do you really know what it is?

Quite simply, mildew is a minute fungal hyphae that will grow on almost any type of organic material if the environment is damp and moist. When it grows, a thin white coating will form over the surfaces.

Tools That You Need

Before you begin, you need to be sure you collect the proper tools to use to clean your hot tub pillows. These tools are nothing fancy and you most likely have them around your house. If not, a quick trip to your local hot tub supply store or even a department store can take care of it for you. Now, on to what you need:

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Prepare for Hard Work

Now that you have gathered all of your materials, it is time to do a little hard work. I’m not going to lie, this cleaning process takes a bit of elbow grease and some time as you need to make sure you clean every inch of the pillow including every little nook and corner.

1. Prepare Your Cleaning Solution

Pour a teaspoon of the mild detergent into the water and add a small amount of bleach. Mix it up thoroughly. This simple little solution is the perfect weapon against mildew.

2. Remove Hot Tub Pillows

Following the instructions in your hot tub’s manual, remove the pillows from the hot tub and place them in a place you have designated your cleaning area.

3. Clean Pillow Area on the Hot Tub

Before you begin to clean the covers, you must first clean every little inch of the hot tub where the pillows were located. If you don’t, you could get regrowth rather quickly. Using your soft brush or sponge and your cleaning solution, gently wipe away the surfaces to remove any mildew that may be left behind.

4. Clean the Covers

Once you have cleaned the areas where the pillows were located on your hot tub, it is time to focus on the pillows themselves. Begin by using your sponge or brush to clean the covers.

Remember, you will need to clean every little part of the pillow in order to make sure you get rid of all the mildew. For those hard to reach areas, try using a toothbrush to scrub away the mildew and any other dirt and grime that might be present.

5. Clean the Foam Encasements

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

7. Dry the Hot Tub Pillows

Once you have completely cleaned them, take each part and place it somewhere dry. Try to pick a spot that gets lots of sun as it will help kill any bacteria, mold and mildew that you have may have missed during the cleaning process.

8. Reassemble the Pillows

Now it is time for the final step, putting everything back together again. Before you do, verify that every part is completely dry and that you can’t see or smell mildew anymore.

Once you have confirmed that they are clean, reassemble the pillows and you are ready to enjoy your hot tub once more.


As you can see, it really isn’t all that difficult to get rid of mildew, although it will take a bit of hard work on your part.

Unfortunately, this is work that you will have to perform periodically depending on the humidity in your area and how often you use your hot tub. But, if you start to see mildew forming, you no longer have to worry about having to spend a lot of money to replace those pillows. Instead, you can just clean them and return them to their beautiful look and smell in no time.

Happy Soaking!

Matt Giovanisci, the founder of Swim University®, started in the pool and spa industry at age 13 and moved to bigger companies along the way, helping thousands of pool and hot tub owners every year. He wanted to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale, so he launched Swim University® in 2007. Since then, he's worked to make pool and hot tub care easy for over 10 million homeowners. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.

Learn How to Keep Your Hot Tub Clean and Clear All Year Long

You'll save $100 right away with this easy-to-follow digital ebook and video course. This is the guide that hot tub manufacturer doesn’t provide you.

Click here to learn more
The Hot Tub Handbook