Q. My mother-in-law has a Jacuzzi bathtub that she really enjoys and uses several times per week. She has had several urinary tract infections. Could the Jacuzzi be the cause of these infections?
I am also concerned that if there are bacteria in the pipes, she might inhale bacteria in the mist from the tub. Is there any way to thoroughly disinfect the tub to eliminate bacteria?
A. Whirlpool bathtubs can be quite relaxing, but the issue of contamination is a bit controversial. Dirty water may be retained in the pipes after the tub is emptied, allowing bacteria or fungi to flourish. We cannot say whether this is the cause of your mother-in-law’s cystitis, but cases of urinary tract infections and skin reactions from whirlpools have been reported.
One manufacturer recommends that pipes be flushed regularly (every three to six months) to clean them. To do this, the tub is filled with cold water and half a cup of bleach. The jets are run for five minutes and turned off and the tub is drained. Refill the tub with clean cold water and rinse the pipes out by running the jets a few more minutes.
Bleach is an inexpensive household disinfectant, so we hope this will help solve the problem. We have seen no studies proving this procedure is effective, however.