If you want to keep all the microscopic algae and germs out of your hot tub, then you NEED a hot tub cover.
The right hot tub cover can keep your hot tub nice and clean, minimize evaporation, and serve as a safety net to keep your kids and pets from falling in.
In this guide, we take a look at how to buy one and the best hot tub covers on the market today.
3 reasons why you need a hot tub cover
Here’s the skinny on why you need to protect your hot tub investment with a cover:
1. To keep it clean
This one might go without saying, but a lot of people don’t understand why it’s so important to keep the hot tub clean, even when not in use.
When debris and bugs find their way in the pool, so does bacteria and germs.
And all that junk messes with your hot tub chemistry, making it harder to keep clean and safe.
2. To minimize evaporation
Water loss due to evaporation happens quicker than you think, and if you don’t keep the hot tub covered, you find yourself having to continuously add water and adjust your chemicals.
Well, evaporation occurs from lack of humidity, exposure to the elements, and temperature differences between the water and the air.
But guess what?
Covering your hot tub helps prevent all of these and slows evaporation to a bare minimum.
It does this by keeping the temperature and humidity consistent inside the tub, and also by keeping the wind and sun from soaking up those water molecules.
Safety is always the number one concern, especially for us parents.
And a hot tub cover serves as a barrier that will keep your little ones or your pets from falling or slipping into the water.
If you do have small children at home, take extra precautions by buying one that is designed specifically for safety.
You can be assured of this by purchasing one that is certified by ASTM International.
ASTM, or American Society of Testing and Materials, sets the standards for what can be considered a safety cover.
How to measure your hot tub
Obviously, a square hot tub is the easiest to measure, but for other shapes, it’s a little trickier.
For every shape of hot tub, you'll have to measure for the skirt, which is the flap that hangs from the hot tub cover.
Usually, it needs to hang no lower than the bottom of the hot tub acrylic where it meets the wood. And it’s better for it to be too short rather than too long to prevent bunching.
For curved corners, you'll also need to measure radius, which seems to scare people a little bit, but it’s actually not too difficult.
And again, the videos give great visual instructions on this.
But using a carpenter’s square is the easiest way to do this. You'll just line the ruler up to the corner and measure the distance from where the curve starts to the corner of the carpenter’s square.
Square hot tubs
Simply measure the outside of the hot tub, lip to lip and then add ½”.
Round hot tubs
Also easy to measure. Just measure straight across, lip to lip and add ½”.
Manufacturers who create custom hot tub covers will usually provide you with some sort of template or special instructions for measuring irregularly shaped hot tubs.
Important features to consider
When you're out shopping, consider some of these features.
1. Locking straps
Locking straps will not only keep the cover in place during high winds, they'll also prevent small children from being able to lift it.
Most types have standard strap locations, but some will offer the choice of where to put them.
It’s important to assess your particular hot tub to see where the receivers can be installed most conveniently.
2. Marine-grade vinyl
All hot tub covers should be made with marine grade vinyl.
It withstands the harshest elements and can take all the UV you can throw at it. However, there are different strengths of the material.
Most companies stick with the same grade for all their products and some will give you a choice.
In any case, the highest quality ones are usually made with at least 30 oz. vinyl.
But if your hot tub is indoors or protected from the elements, you can probably get away with a much lower grade.
Hot tub covers come with different foam core densities; the higher the density, the better it's insulated.
The most common foam density used in covers is 1 lb., but for outdoor hot tubs, especially those in harsh climates, you should really have one with 1.5 lb. or 2 lb. density.
You don’t have to purchase a cover lifter, but for heavier types, it certainly helps, especially if you'll be uncovering the hot tub alone.
They come in many different styles like heavy duty to lift heavier covers.
5 best hot tub covers
This model from The Cover Guy (click here to check the price on Amazon) is completely customizable to fit your hot tub perfectly.
It’s also made with high density foam and 30 oz. marine grade vinyl to withstand harsh weather and heavy weight.
You can have peace of mind with its handy and sturdy lockable tie downs for safety, and it comes in 10 colors so you can customize not only the size you need, but the look you want as well.
This company is known for their expertise and have been around for more than 30 years. I highly recommend it!
Made with a 6” foam core, the BeyondNice (click here to check the price on Amazon) provides extremely efficient insulation.
It's ASTM compliant and comes with a 5 year warranty, and is equipped with nylon lifting handles for easy lifting and 4 locking tie down straps.
It's a little lighter than some of the other covers, weighing just about 55 pounds.
This company has also been in business for over 30 years, so they know their stuff!
This unit from MySpaCover (click here to check the price on Amazon) is also highly customizable to fit any size and shape of hot tub.
It's made with heavy duty 30 lb. marine grade vinyl and EPS insulation foam that MySpaCover says will save you up to $80 in energy costs.
It's also double stitched for maximum durability and comes in 10 different colors.
MySpaCover offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a 5 year warranty on all their products so you can’t go wrong.
For a more economical choice, we recommend something like the ULT cover (click here to check the price on Amazon).
This one is made with polyester canvas and vinyl backing, and has a strong elastic edge so that it just slips over the top of the tub and fits snuggly.
While it's waterproof and durable, it's not reinforced with a foam core like the other types, so you can’t count on it alone to keep children out.
It also comes with a five year warranty against damage.
If you have a standard-sized hot tub and don’t have to mess with measuring and fitting, this model from Prestige Spa (click here to check the price on Amazon) is an easy solution.
It's made with 1 lb. density foam, and features locking tie-downs.
Do keep in mind that this is a simple cover that will not work with most of the lifts you can buy separately.
It's ASTM rated and comes with a 1 year warranty.
How to clean your hot tub cover
You wouldn’t think of cleaning vinyl regularly because of the cracking and drying regular moisture would cause.
But because most hot tub covers are made with marine grade vinyl, they're able to withstand lots of moisture.
It is best, however, to use a cleaner specifically made for vinyl to keep it conditioned.
You do need to clean these frequently to keep them free from bacteria and algae spores, so here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Remove the cover. Remove it from the hot tub and prop it up against a wall. You will want it to be propped up rather than laying flat on the ground so that the water will run off of it easily.
Step 2: Rinse. Hose it down with just water to rinse off some of the dirt or loose debris that might be on it. (Read: how use a hot tub vacuum to clean your hot tub).
Step 3: Scrub. With a gentle cleaning brush, use hot soapy water or vinyl cleaner to scrub it down in small circles.
Step 4: Rinse completely. Hose off completely with clean water until there are no traces of cleaner left.
Step 5: Scrub the other side. Now, flip the cover over and repeat the entire process on the other side.
Step 6: Check the foam and vapor barrier. Most models have a zipper opening so that you can get to the foam and vapor barriers. Check to make sure it is intact and functional.
You probably only need to thoroughly clean it this way 2-3 times a year, unless it's exposed to the elements and tends to get very dirty.
In that case, you may want to remove it and clean it well once a month.
But you'll also want to wipe it off as often as possible if it tends to collect dirt and leaves, or in the event that rainwater is standing on it so that it doesn’t get weighed down and tear or sag.
Aside from that, you'll want to use a vinegar and water mixture to clean the underside occasionally, especially if you start to notice a mildew-y smell or see any mold starting to grow on it.
Also, be sure to check it regularly for tears and patch those immediately with a vinyl repair kit!
A hot tub cover might be considered a pretty hefty investment, most ranging anywhere from $200-500.
That’s why it’s important to know how to pick the one that will work best for you and how to take care of it.
Otherwise, you could find yourself replacing one every year.
So let us know if you have any questions or just need suggestions.
We’ve got you covered! (See what I did there?)