The Bathtub Debate: Jetted vs. Soaking

The Bathtub Debate: Jetted vs. Soaking

There’s nothing better than a long, hot bath for relaxing and recuperating. The most popular therapeutic bathtubs are soaking tubs and jetted tubs. In case you’re planning a home remodel, deciding between a soaking tub and jetted tub can be tricky, especially if your bathtub is selected for therapeutic purposes, such as relieving mental stress or improving circulation.

Take the time to weigh the pros and cons of both soaking tubs and jetted bathtubs before making a decision.

Jetted Bathtubs: Whirlpool vs. Air Tubs

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There are two types of jetted bathtubs: whirlpool and air tubs. The differences between whirlpools and air tubs aren’t obvious at first glance. The jets in both tubs provide a relaxing massage. When you are shopping for one or the other, you’ll quickly notice that they differ in important ways. The main difference between the two is how the jets operate. Air tubs use jets of air, whereas whirlpools shoot jets of water. In terms of upkeep, function, and personal preference, this can have several implications.

The most noticeable difference is the sensation. A whirlpool has the classic, deep-massaging jets associated with hydrotherapy. This type of tub is likely to be found in a physical therapist’s office. In contrast, air tubs provide a more generalized, effervescent sensation. The air tub has numerous air jets that shoot millions of bubbles instead of a few concentrated jets. While it’s gentler, it’s still very relaxing.

Now that you know some of the basics and differences between whirlpool and air tubs, let’s look at some of their pros and cons.

Air Tubs


  • Installation: Air tub installation is more complicated (and expensive) than installing a traditional tub without jets. To install the air system, you’ll need an electrician, as well as a plumber, to hook up the jets.
  • Price: Air tubs are significantly more expensive than non-jetted tubs and a bit more expensive than whirlpool tubs. Installing a jetted tub requires more effort and expense than installing a non-jetted tub.
  • No Targeted Massage: Air tubs aren’t ideal for powerful, targeted massages on a specific area of your body. That’ll require a whirlpool.



  • More Difficult To Clean: Compared to air baths, whirlpool baths require more frequent cleaning. Because whirlpool baths’ internal components accumulate dirt, mold, scum, and mildew more easily, they require more frequent cleanings. Using a scrub brush or toothbrush, you must wash each jet manually multiple times after flushing the pipes.
  • Tend To Be Louder: Feel like you’d like a particular kind of atmosphere? The best way to achieve it may be to use an air bath since they run quieter than whirlpools.

Soaking Bathtubs

A soaking tub is similar to a standard bathtub, except it’s slightly longer and oval-shaped. The tub can be built-in, freestanding claw foot tub or some other configuration, but it does not move water or air. You just fill it with warm water and soak. The only thing you need is a waste and overflow kit and a faucet.  Because there’s no movement of water or air, soaking tubs are less expensive than their jetted counterparts.

Also, soaking tubs are deeper so you can easily soak your entire body. When compared to longer traditional tubs, this shape takes less water to fill. 

Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of soaking tubs compared to jetted tubs:


  • Not The Best For Hydrotherapy: Often, jetted tubs are used for hydrotherapy, a method of treating pain with water. Furthermore, whirlpool jets can reduce inflammation and relieve tension, anxiety, stress, and muscle soreness. If you have chronic pain, you could benefit greatly from a jetted tub. But you won’t get the same experience with a soaking tub.
  • Don’t Provide As Much Heat Retention: A jetted tub often has an inline heater with a thermostat built in, so that the water circulated in the tub is always kept at the desired temperature. The result is superior heat retention and a longer bathing time. Standard soaking times don’t allow this same level of heat retention.

While there are many differences between jetted and non-jetted bathtubs, there are many more types and features to choose from when selecting a bathtub. For more information, check out our Ultimate Bathtub Buying Guide.

Jetted Tubs vs. Standard Soaking Tubs: Need Help Making a Choice?

There are many advantages to both soaking tubs and jetted tubs. A freestanding soaking tub is probably your best choice if you are searching for a relaxing and low-maintenance bathing experience. However, if you want to enjoy an all-over, relaxing massage with jets, you might prefer a jetted tub.

At McManus Kitchen and Bath, we can help you choose the best tub for your bathroom and get you started with your bath remodel. Get in touch with us today for more info.

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