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.

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  1. JEK
    Gadsden, AL

    Newly diagnosed with a UTI, so I’ve visited this site out of curiosity in using a tub with jets. Two years ago moved into a home with a jet tub and was very excited since I’ve never had that luxury. But after several complaints over the year and finally finding a doctor who ordered a urine test I’ve been trying to figure out how come a UTI! We haven’t flushed the pipes and have noticed a foul order, specks in the water, and sometimes flies in the bathroom. Never considering it could be the wonderful tub. Hopefully, this information shared has solved the mystery. Thank you and I will pass the information on to others who are considering a jet tub as well. And I will be flushing the pipes!

  2. jlf

    Every 90 days you should clean that CLOSED system thoroughly. I prefer not to use bleach in my home, baking soda and vinegar at 1 to 1 is an excellent cleaner for the whirlpool jets. If you want to be quick and easy 4 dishwasher soap packs and a tub of hot water run for 15 minutes is foolproof.
    Remember the plumbing for those jets always are full of water and are a real breeding ground for bacteria- especially fecal coliform and a stupefying array of bathroom contaminants. Most of us are not bothered by what we don’t know, and aren’t sickened by the bacteria. The elderly, the very young and the immune compromised as well as the just unlucky often do contract various maladies from such sources, some of which can be very serious.
    When in doubt CLEAN!

  3. C. L.

    As an inn owner-manager for several years I had our housekeepers clean the Jacuzzis between guests by filling above the jets then adding 1/2 C bleach and 1/4 c dishwasher detergent, running for 5 minutes and rinsing by filling with clean water and running 5 minutes again. I never had a complaint about a dirty Jaccuzzi.

  4. Noemi

    My doctor has also advised me not to take baths. Showers only. I have a whirlpool bath and do indulge every so often and have had no infections. When I do indulge, however, it is with plain water and no soap. I find it very relaxing without all the bubbles. And yes, we do flush out the tubes as instructed by the manufacturer.

  5. S.H.

    Years and years ago an old timey doctor told his patients how to prevent urinary tract infections (I used to get them often; being a teacher, I had little time to go to the bathroom, so the UTI’S made things worse); The old doc told his patients SHOWER, not bathe.
    I did not believe it until I showered ONLY for a few months! Amazing! no more UTI’s; I assumed it was a coincidence, so returned to my beloved bubble baths. OUCH; UTI’s started, again; the doc said the bubble baths made it much worse, but he recommended NOT bathing at all.
    In the past 10 years or so, the only times I got UTI’s were after I gave in and had a luxurious bath!
    I am a believer and tell friends this info, if they ask my “home-remedy” for UTI’s; I give them a preventative!

  6. Carol H.

    I, too enjoy a Whirlpool, and a few years ago had some cystitis issues, and realized that after I introduced the regular use of a quality Pro-biotic to my system, the cystitis disappeared. Understanding that keeping a healthy bacteria level benefits us in many ways, it made since to me that the pro-biotic was fortifying my system and providing it with the ability to fight off the bacteria imbalance that could lead to cystitis.

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