Microban Spa Filters – Do They Really Work Underwater

Microban spa filters evidently have antibacterial properties.  Microban is not to be confused with Reemay which is a brand of filter media (actually quite a great brand of hot tub filter fabric).  Microban Disinfectant actually kills allergy and disease causing germs and may even be superior to bleach in some applications.  But what about the actual hot tub filter application underwater? 

The idea behind Microban on spa cartridge filters is that they would have microbe-inhibiting protection.  Indeed, Microban does have those properties, but the value of microban underwater is questionable.  Without digging into advanced microbiology, it is certainly clear that Microban protection is used in many consumer products including shoes, countertops, baby changing stations and other “above water” applications.  Anything that can inhibit the growth of bacteria is welcome as otherwise odor and even mold and mildew can result.

Underwater is a different story though, so it would be interesting to see actual research of why this product can inhibit the growth of bacteria for example, in a hot tub because the filter pleats are made with this coating.

The disclaimer in the footer of the actual Microban site does indeed say “Microban antimicrobial product protection is limited to the product itself and is not designed to protect the users of these products from disease causing microorganisms, food borne illnesses, or as a substitute for normal cleaning and hygiene practices.  Microban International, Ltd. makes neither direct nor implied health claims for the products containing Microban® antimicrobial product protection.  Data, photomicrographs and information presented are based on standard laboratory tests and are provided for comparative purposes to substantiate antimicrobial activity for non-public health uses.”  which does not really address the underwater application, but sidesteps any direct health claims.

So it seems that Microban is a practical product that works in many above water applications and is used by huge names such as DuPont, Bissell, Rubbermaid and other trusted household brands.  It is just that it seems hard to connect the dots between what above water, sanitary applications these big names use the product for and the extension to charging more for hot tub filters because it is Microban coated.   We just don’t know if it is worth the extra without reference to specific underwater tests and case studies so it may just be better to buy a standard hot tub filter as they are replaced every year or so anyways, and spend the savings on perhaps some proven anti-bacteria chemicals such as bromine or chlorine for hot tub applications.

It should not be the filter’s job to actually disinfect the water and keep bacteria from multiplying in hot water in place of a dedicated sanitizer like bromine or chlorine – and that claim is not even really being made, as it would be preposterous and not work.  Once someone invents a hot tub filter that sanitizes the water and frees it from bacteria, we have a long list of customers who would try THAT product.

So for now, our murky recommendation is – if you are using a Microban coated filter cartridge and are happy with it, then by all means order the same type replacement filter.  We do offer several Microban type filters on this site for those of you who want them.

But if you are wondering if your standard hot tub filter will filter the water just as good (or even better?) then it may not be worth spending more money on a Microban covered filter.  Detractors actually have said that Microban on the filter may make it more susceptible to pores clogging sooner.   But just as there is no hard evidence that Microban works in any meaningful way underwater in a hot tub application,  we have also not seen any evidence that Microban clogs pores sooner either.

You can buy filters made of Reemay filter fabric that are not Microban, they are great filters and work perfectly well. These types of filters are made by quality filter manufacturers and brands such as Filbur , Pleatco, Unicel and others.

Are Microban hot tub filters marketing hype or do they really keep the filter lasting longer with “less water changes” – isn’t that a bit of a stretch that some hot tub salespeople want to extrapolate based on the more popular uses of this great anti-bacterial product?  Anyways, we won’t have this on Anderson Cooper’s “Keeping it Real” segment, but did want to bring up the fact that you are perfectly fine using a standard, good quality replacement cartridge filter without losing sleep as to whether it is Microban coated or not.

Another interesting article we came across is about how Microban was actually on-par with a pesticide: http://www.townsendletter.com/May2006/healthrisk0506.htm. There are some interesting points made about not all germs being bad and about health risks. Again, it is important not to extrapolate from one application to a different one. Google “Microban dangers” and you will be served up several sites not saying it is the best thing to use since sliced bread.  Again, consumers need to make up their own minds in the end because we can’t believe everything we read on the internet now can we?

If you have any further proof that would back up claims saying “your hot tub water will last longer in between water changes if you use a Microban filter”, please send us the details so we can update this post.  Meanwhile, that filter you have in your hot tub is just fine!



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Hot tub spa replacement filters for Canadians.

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