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How to Keep a Cold Plunge Clean: Maintenance & Sanitization Tips

Maintaining a clean ice bath isn't just about aesthetics — it's crucial for your health and the longevity of your investment. Today we’ll cover the importance of keeping your cold tub maintained, steps for how to deep clean it, tips for ongoing maintenance, and more.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Ice Bath?

Even with regular draining and refilling, things like dirt, hair, oil, skin cells, and other particles can accumulate in the tub over time. This can clog filtration systems, create breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi, and deteriorate your tub’s surfaces.


Especially for outdoor cold plunges (but even indoor tubs), dirt, leaves, and other particles can build up in your ice bath, making the water dirty and unappealing. Beyond the simple fact that it makes you not want to jump in, this may block filters and strain your plunge’s chiller system, reducing its effectiveness. Keeping the water clean not only creates a better experience but also maintains the efficiency of these systems.

Bacteria & Fungi

Stagnant water in an uncleaned cold plunge can become a thriving ecosystem of bacteria and fungi, posing potential health risks via skin infections and respiratory issues. Microbial growth can also lead to unpleasant smells, making the cold plunge experience less appealing.

Product Life

Mineral deposits and algae can build up on the surfaces of your plunge, leading to deterioration and potential damage over time. A clean plunge prevents excessive wear and tear on mechanical components, such as pumps and filters, ensuring your investment lasts longer.

How to Clean a Cold Plunge

The first step of maintenance is cleaning your cold plunge thoroughly. While the specific details may be different from model to model, use the following steps to guide your deep clean:

  • Skim: Use a skimmer or net to collect and remove any large debris like hair, leaves, twigs, or bugs that may have settled at the bottom or floated to the surface.
  • Prep: Create a cleaning solution using a tub-safe, non-abrasive cleaner or a mixture of warm water and a small amount of mild soap.
  • Drain: Use the drain valve or pump to remove all water from the tub so you have access to all surfaces for comprehensive cleaning.
  • Clean: Scrub the interior surfaces with a soft brush or sponge (make sure to avoid abrasive tools that could damage the tub), paying close attention to corners and crevices where grime can accumulate.
  • Rinse: Rinse all surfaces thoroughly to remove any soap residue, as this can affect water quality and cause irritation.
  • Sanitize: Apply a sanitizer to further disinfect the tub, allowing it to sit for the recommended duration to kill remaining germs.
  • Rinse Again: Rinse the tub again to remove any remaining sanitizer.
  • Refill: Add fresh water and treatment chemicals back to the tub.
  • Maintain: Keep an eye out for any signs of wear, damage, or leaks. Address any issues promptly to prevent further deterioration.

Note: Always wear gloves when handling cleaning chemicals.

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Cold Plunge Maintenance (Keeping it Clean)

Now that your cold plunge is clean, here’s how to maintain that clean and healthy environment between deep cleans:

Drain Standing Water if Not in Use

If the plunge is not used regularly (or if you’re going on vacation), standing water can become stagnant and lead to bacterial growth. If the water won’t be used for a while, drain the tub to avoid this. Even if you use your cold plunge frequently, it’s a good idea to refresh standing water periodically to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.

Note: Draining and refilling is the only way to treat non-circulating water, so cold plunges and ice baths without a chiller or circulation system will require more maintenance.

Shower Prior to Getting In

Showering or rinsing off before hopping into your cold plunge removes excess oil, sweat, and dirt from your body, which reduces the contaminants that get into the water. Not only will it help you feel more refreshed, but it will keep your ice bath cleaner and running more efficiently for longer.

Clean Feet Beforehand (or Wear Shoes)

Similarly, walking to the cold plunge — even indoors — will track dirt and debris into the water. Brush off your feet or grab some slip-on shoes to wear to and from the tub to minimize this.

Use a Skimmer

A net helps get floating debris out of the tub before it gets sucked into filtration systems. We recommend skimming the surface after each use, as this can prevent larger cleaning tasks down the road.

Add a Filtration System

A filtration system continuously cleans your ice bath, removing particles and maintaining water quality. Good filtration can cut down on how often manual cleanings are needed and help keep water crystal clear. When considering filter systems, take note of how easy it is to replace the filters — some systems make it needlessly complicated to perform these tasks, which can lead to frustration and less frequent cleanings.

Replace Filters When Needed

If you do have filters, they can become clogged and lose their effectiveness over the course of weeks and months, so replacing them on a consistent schedule keeps them functioning effectively. Filters should typically be checked monthly and replaced every 3-6 months, depending on usage and water quality. We also recommend keeping spare filters handy to help stay on schedule without delays.

Monitor Chemical Levels

Proper chemical balance, especially the levels of disinfectants like chlorine or bromine, is important for killing harmful bacteria and algae. Test strips or digital testers can be used to test and adjust chemical levels for balanced water chemistry.

Check for Damage

Frequently inspect your tub for signs of wear and tear like cracks, leaks, or loose fittings and take care of these issues quickly to prevent more significant issues from developing. This helps extend the life of your cold plunge and keeps it in good working condition for years to come.

Deep Clean Periodically

Even with regular maintenance, a deep clean is necessary every once in a while to address areas that routine cleaning might miss. We outlined this process above, which involves draining the tub, scrubbing all surfaces, and thoroughly sanitizing and rinsing the tub.

How to Keep Outdoor Ice Bath Clean

For those with outdoor setups, you should invest in a durable cover (like the one that comes with our cold plunges) to reduce debris falling or being blown into the tub. Before storms or high winds, secure the cover and remove any items that might be blown into the plunge. We’d also recommend positioning it in a shaded area to minimize algae growth and UV damage.

You could also install a windbreak or enclosure to limit the amount of debris blown into the water by the wind. This could be accomplished with artificial barriers like screens or fencing or more natural elements like hedges.

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Cold Plunge Cleaning FAQs

How Often Should You Clean an Ice Bath?

Ideally, you should perform a light clean after each use and a thorough deep clean every few weeks, depending on the frequency of use. Regular cleaning prevents buildup and ensures a sanitary environment.

Does Epsom Salt Keep Your Cold Plunge Clean?

While Epsom salt can help reduce bacterial growth because of its antiseptic properties, it’s not a substitute for proper cleaning and sanitization. Use Epsom salt in conjunction with regular cleaning practices like the ones mentioned above.

What Are the Best Ice Bath Cleaning Products?

Our suggested cleaning products for your cold plunge include mild detergents, pH balancers, sanitizers, oxidizers, and Alkalinity Up. Avoid harsh chemicals that could damage the tub or affect water quality, and look for products specifically designed for cold plunges or pools.

Or Use a Self-Cleaning Cold Plunge

Keeping a clean and sanitary cold plunge is important for a safe and enjoyable experience. Beyond the experience, this also extends the life of your cold plunge so you get more value out of your investment in your wellness. Thankfully, self-cleaning cold plunges with built-in filtration and ozone sanitation systems can significantly simplify the maintenance you need to perform, allowing you to focus more on the benefits of cold plunging and less on upkeep.

Our tubs and chillers come with advanced cleaning systems, so your water stays crisp and sparkling clean when you’re ready to hop in. We offer a variety of ice baths for a variety of budgets, as well as financing options. For those who already have a cold plunge, we have everything you need to keep it clean and operating at its best.