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If you’re looking for the perfect tub to turn your bathing routine into a luxurious experience, you’ve likely come across both air baths and whirlpool tubs.

But what’s the difference between the two, and which is right for you? Here, we’ll explain how air tubs differ from whirlpool baths and help you decide which will suit your needs best.

Air vs. Water

The biggest difference between air tubs and whirlpool baths is what they pump out of their jets.

In air tubs, only air is pumped out through the jets. This means that air tubs’ jets can be much smaller than whirlpool baths’ jets, and will resemble tiny punched out holes. Take a look at the 15 holes in the bottom of the Signature A-463 air tub to get a sense of what air jets look like:

whirlpool tub vs air tub

In whirlpools baths, recirculated water is pushed out through the jets. This means that whirlpool baths’ jets need to be much larger than those of air baths in order to pump out an adequate amount of water. Compare the Signature W-463 to the bath pictured above to see that jet size difference:

air tub vs whirlpool tub

In general, whirlpool bath jets create a deep massaging sensation, while air tubs offer a gentler, more bubbly effect.

Other Differences Between Air Tubs and Whirlpool Baths

There are a few key differences between air tubs and whirlpool baths that can affect your final decision of which to purchase. Let’s go over each one in-depth.

Ease of Cleaning

To power their jets, air tubs pull air from the room in which they’re placed, heat the air and pump it through the tub’s water.

Whirlpool baths, on the other hand, draw in water from the bath before heating it and pumping it back in. In other words, whirlpool baths continuously recirculate dirty bathwater. Because of this, whirlpool baths require more frequent cleaning than air baths.

Additionally, the cleaning process itself varies between air tubs and whirlpool baths. Air tubs only need to be manually cleaned as often as a regular bathtub, and their internal components can be cleaned and dried out simply by running the jets while the tub is empty.

Since whirlpool baths’ internal components are more prone to accumulating dirt, mold, scum and mildew, though, they need much more thorough cleanings. This can be accomplished by flushing out the pipes multiple times with powerful cleaners before manually scrubbing each jet with a scrub brush or toothbrush.

Sensation

As we mentioned above, air tubs tend to create a gentle, whole-body bubbling sensation, which results in a relaxing effect on the skin that’s certainly soothing but doesn’t do much for muscles needing a deeper massage.

By contrast, whirlpool baths’ powerful water jets offer a deeper, more targeted massage that can effectively knead knots out of sore back and shoulder muscles.

Plus, many whirlpool baths have several different settings, so you can adjust the jets to offer just the right pressure.

Which Is Right for You?

To narrow down your choices, you’ll need to first take stock of your personal preferences.

An air tub is likely the way to go if you:

  • Don’t want a tub that requires thorough and frequent cleaning.
  • Are looking for a relaxing whole-body sensation rather than a deep massage.
  • Don’t mind having a tub that loses heat quicker than others.

A whirlpool bath is likely the right choice if you:

  • Don’t mind performing thorough and frequent cleanings.
  • Are looking for a bath that offers a deep, targeted massage.
  • Want your tub to retain heat for as long as possible.

In the end, neither air tubs nor whirlpool baths are better than the other. It all comes down to your lifestyle and needs, and if you take those into consideration, you’re sure to make a decision you’ll be happy with for years to come.