In my fantasy, I win a jacuzzi on the game show The Price is Right. In reality, I’ve got a fiberglass tub with some cool tile around it and the occasional bath bomb dropped in. How can I turn my bathtub into a jacuzzi?
There are several options that range from cheap and temporary to expensive and permanent. These include:
- Cover the overflow drain.
- Turn on submersible color-changing LED lights.
- Test out a portable jet bath spa.
- Enjoy a massaging bubble bath mat.
- Install 6-10 permanent whirlpool jets
Have I piqued your interest? Can you already see yourself reclining in your brand new hot tub, as the aches and pains dissolve and your bathtub selfie appears on Instagram?
Before we swim through our options, let’s clarify one thing: a hot tub and Jacuzzi are essentially the same thing. Jacuzzi is a brand name that has come to take on the meaning of a deep hot bath with jets, like Band-Aid is a brand name commonly used to refer to a bandage, and Kleenex refers to any kind of tissues.
Here’s How to Turn Your Bathtub into a Jacuzzi
Now then, how will we turn a regular bathtub into a jacuzzi—a type of bathtub that typically starts at $2,500 to purchase new? There are several steps you can take that will make you feel like your standard tub is a hot tub. And then there’s the ultimate step when you can actually transform your bathtub into a jacuzzi.
1. To Turn Your Tub into a Jacuzzi, Start by Covering the Overflow Drain
The first step to take to transform your bathtub into a jacuzzi is to purchase an overflow drain cover. First off, do you know where the overflow drain is? That’s the metal piece beneath the bathtub faucet that slowly sucks the joy out of your hot bath.
But come to find out, you can buy an overflow drain cover for only $6 to $10. This little piece of brilliance allows you to increase the depth of water in your bathtub by about 2-3 inches.
Before you get all snarky with “Only 2-3 inches!” let me tell you, that’s the length of your index finger. That much additional water can take your bath from boring to blissful.
What a Difference a Few Extra Inches of Water Makes!
I know that’s a big, bold claim, so please allow me to present the evidence. Here are random reviews—among thousands of similar types—left on Amazon for this very low-tech item:
“I can actually FILL THE TUB and not hear that dreaded sound of half my water (and my expensive magnesium flakes, essential oils, organic bubble baths and other fancy therapeutic ingredients) tragically vanishing down the drain.”
Or how about this review:
“We just moved into a new home and the bathtubs are *SO* shallow. My soul was slowly being ripped to pieces while soaking in a measly 7″ of water. Devastating! This product seriously improved the quality of my life.”
Once I got my overflow drain cover, I was halfway to turning my fiberglass tub into a true spa experience.
How to Attach an Overflow Drain Cover
My overflow drain cover looks like a piece of silicone. On the inside, the part that fits over the drain is 4 inches diameter, but measured on the outside, it is 6 inches in diameter. It has a bunch of little suction cups around it. My biggest problem was getting little suction cups to stick the wall.
But that’s probably because I tend to dive in and not read directions.
Once I consulted the fine print, I figured it out fast: I just wet the entire drain cover, then held the drain cover to the wall and pressed down each suction cup, one at a time, beginning at the bottom.
By the way, it’s not like I don’t have an overflow drain valve at all. The drain cover I got has a hole on the top where 12 o’clock would be, so essentially, I just moved the overflow drain a few inches higher in the tub.
And I’ve got to say, there’s something about having my neck covered in warm water that especially feels spa-licious.
2. Turn on Submersible, Color-Changing LED lights
I’m so excited about my new LED color-changing submersible lights! They come with a remote that allows me to choose the mood lighting for my experience. Put 2 or 3 in the tub to create a true spa environment.
Packs run $15-$25, and the more expensive options include magnets and suction cups to adhere to your tub’s sides. Less expensive options don’t come with a fastening device, so you simply drop the LED lights into the bottom of the bathtub.
These run on AA or AAA batteries and many come with a remote that allows you to alter the colors of the lights. Cool, or what?!
3. Test Out a Portable Jet Bath Spa
Did you know you can buy a portable jet spa? Or a few of them? These electric-powered devices hang on the edge of your bathtub with suction.
While this sounds like the easiest way to transform your bathtub into a jacuzzi for $40-$150, depending on the features, buyer beware!
You’ve got to approach these jet spas with the right mindset. If you’re expecting the full-blown power of a jacuzzi jet, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you’re okay with a device that gently agitates the water, releases a stream of bubbles and can cover maybe a foot of your body at a time, you’ll be satisfied. That is, as long as the suction cup adheres to the side of your bathtub.
If you decide to purchase a portable jet spa, be open to the possibility of returning it if you’re not happy. But if the jet spa you choose works well, you may opt for purchasing a second or third.
The pricier models come with additional features such as a dual jet stream, or a telescopic neck that allows you to adjust the height of the bubbles, Some even come with bubbles.
You’ll want to check the length of the power cord, so that you can safely plug it in in your particular bathroom. And you’ll also want to pay attention to the noise level—those with the stronger jet streams will make more noise.
These devices can work well for specific, localized injuries, as you can target the jet to a particular spot and get some relief.
If you do use a jet spa, you’ll need to remove it each time you leave the bathtub. If the next person who comes to shower doesn’t notice it’s still there, they might ruin the jet spa by getting it wet all over.
4. Enjoy a Massaging Jacuzzi Bath Mat
For me, the jacuzzi bath mat offers more promise than the jet spa. (And the two items are not designed to work together.) Between the two, I’m opting for the jacuzzi bath mat for sure. (I love the electric bath mats from SereneLife.)
This long mat adheres to the bottom of the bathtub with dozens of suction cups. It’s connected to an air hose and motorized air pump, and some brands come with a built-in heater. These range in price from about $90 to $190.
The most expensive versions come with a remote that you can use to set the length of your massage.
Whether you love or hate this product will likely come down to whether the suction cups adhere to your particular tub. If you’ve got a textured bathtub, you’re more likely to have problems with the suction cups. If you have a good stick, you’ll probably love the bubble massaging mat. If the surface of your tub is smooth and you wet the bottom of the bathtub a little bit before you press down on the suction cups, you’re going to be fine. (It says to do that right in the directions, but I think a lot of people miss that step–wet the bottom of the tub slightly first.)
You’ll get a much stronger massage with bubbles than from the electric bubble bath mat than from the portable jet stream, and also, a lot more of your body will be targeted. However, because of the more powerful jet stream, it will be considerably louder than a portable jet spa.
I’m thinking the electric bath mat could make a fun holiday gift for my teenage niece, because who doesn’t deserve a little extra fun and relaxation these days?!
5. To Truly Turn Your Bathtub into a Jacuzzi, Install 6-10 Permanent Whirlpool Jets
We’ve definitely saved the best for last! It’s time to talk about the real deal. Not how do you make your bathtub feel like a jacuzzi.
Instead, let’s look at how you actually install whirlpool jets to physically transform your regular old tub into an actual, freaking jacuzzi!
Let me pause here and say that it can be done in a few hours by real handy types, but you also might consider buying the hardware and the labor to get it done.
Okay, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but we’ve got to talk cost. Keep in mind that a real jacuzzi bought new starts at $2,500 USD, and for bells and whistles, you could be looking 5 grand.
Now that we’ve put a little perspective on this, here’s the story: You can purchase a DIY kit for a $350-$600 USD, depending on the number of jets you plan to install.
The process involves drilling holes for the jets in the side of your tub, screwing in the jets, and then installing an air regulator, air hose and pump. You’ll find it easier to do this on a bathtub that is not already fixed in place, but you can still accomplish this job without removing a tub that’s already attached to the wall.
Turning Your Bathtub into a Jacuzzi is Not the Only Way to Max Your Relax
If you decide you’ll simply replace your bathtub with a jetted tub, you can find some excellent options. The Luxury Water Jetted and Air Bubble Bathtub from Woodbridge is a great selection. This combo tub gives you both air jets for a gentle, all-over body massage, and water jets, for a more targeted massage. (See it here on Amazon.)
And if you’ve weighed the options and decided you do want to buy a hot tub that fits 4-12 bathers, check out How to Buy a Hot Tub: Ultimate Guide. You’ll get tips that can potentially save you thousands of dollars.
Can I use bubble bath in a hot tub? If you are using a regular bathtub with a portable jet spa or bubble massage device, yes, you can use bubble bath. However, these devices will generate many more bubbles than in a normal bath, so start with ¼ the amount of bubble bath recommended on the bottle. If you are in an actual whirlpool hot tub, then avoid using bubble bath as it can create bacteria in the jets and whirlpool system.
What are the health benefits of soaking in a hot tub? Soaking in a hot tub can reduce inflammation, increase circulation and promote the healing of injuries. A good soak can also detoxify your skin and improve sleep. Some even say it can promote weight loss.
Are there any risks involved in soaking in a hot tub? Hot tubbing is not recommended for heart patients who have been told to avoid exercise, people with blood pressure regulation problems, and people with certain skin conditions. If in doubt, consult your doctor.