How To Clean a Hot Tub (Full Guide!)

By Dillon •  Updated: 03/26/21 •  20 min read

How do I clean my hot tub?

To clean a hot tub correctly, you must add 8 ounces of pipe cleaning solution to the spa to dissolve organic compounds before draining the water. Next, wipe down the inside shell with CLR to remove any calcium, rust, lime, or mold. Finally, thoroughly spray down the hot tub shell with fresh water while draining the dirty water with a submersible pump. 

Check out my list of high-quality hot tub products to help keep your hot tub clean and running great all year long!

If you find that the steps to clean a hot tub are a bit much to handle, you can try using a special hot tub cleaner designed to dissolve and clean water. These products usually come in liquid or spray forms and are very easy to use. This cleaner will dissolve all organic compounds and debris lurking in the hot tub’s piping system. I recommend the Oh Yuk cleaning chemical; use this before draining the spa.

Summer is an important time of year for me as a hot tub owner. Usually, around the end of June, I will drain and fully clean my hot tub.

I decided to do some research and do a full guide on how to clean a hot tub, and here it is!

Check out our article on how to clean an inflatable hot tub for more information on portable spas!

We’ll discuss different ways to clean your hot tub, Let’s get started!

5 Steps to Clean a Hot Tub

The five steps to clean a hot tub are:

  1. Add pipe cleaning solution
  2. Drain the hot tub
  3. Wipe down the hot tub with CLR
  4. Spray down the hot tub with fresh water
  5. Drain the dirty water with a submersible pump
  6. Refill the hot tub

If you’ve noticed a change in the color of your water or are concerned about the presence of bacteria or another microorganism in the water, then the steps to clean a hot tub are essential. The best way to make sure that you keep bacteria and dirt out of your hot tub are to perform a thorough cleaning of the hot tub itself regularly. There are several steps to cleaning a hot tub.

However, the cleaning process’s most crucial part is to regularly change out the bromine or chlorine chemicals in the water. Doing so will periodically kill any bacteria or other microorganisms that may be lurking in the water. These chemicals are very affordable and easy to administer.

Check out our article on hot tubs smelling like chemicals for information on how to fix it.

On an ongoing basis, you change out the water regularly. Ensure you drain your water entirely and let it sit in a freshwater solution for the recommended amount of time before draining it again. As you drain the water from your hot tub, be sure always to use freshwater.

This makes a perfect combination with the next step to clean a hot tub. This next step is to rinse out the hot tub with fresh, clean water, making sure to rinse off the cleaner thoroughly.

The final steps to clean a hot tub will involve using a vacuum to suck up the debris left floating in the water. The best way to use a vacuum is by using the up and down motion.

Start at one end and move back to the other end, working your way around the entire area. This is the fastest cleaning method for debris. If you cannot get the debris completely out of the hot tub, draining the spa may be necessary.

I recommend the Pool Blaster Water Tech Vacuum to suck up any leftover debris.

Cleaning the Hot Tub Cover

The five steps to clean a hot tub cover:

  1. Remove the cover from the hot tub. To do this:
  2. Lift the cover and unscrew the lift leavers on each side until it releases
  3. Use CLR and warm water to clean the spa cover thoroughly
  4. Spray down the cover with fresh water
  5. Reinstall the cover

Most hot tub owners find that when they are cleaning the cover, they use hot water to rinse off the dirt and grime that has built up. To properly clean a spa cover, you should use a strong jet of hot water. If you do not adequately clean it, you could damage the inner lining, requiring a new spa cover!

Next, you want to use a large sponge or brush to skim off any excess dirt that may be on the hot tub cover. This is accomplished by first removing the cover. You want to do this so you can reach in and clear away any debris that may in or around the cover lift.

Cleaning the Hot Tub Filters

To clean a hot tub filter, you must remove the hot tub filters from the spa, rinse the filters with fresh water, apply a chemical soak, rinse thoroughly, and reinstall the hot tub filters into the spa.

The next step is to take the brush and scrub away any debris left on the hot tub filter inside the spa. The filter is the part that absorbs organic chemicals from the spa water. If this gets clogged or blocked with dirt, you will find that the water will not be as clean as it should be.

If you notice algae growth or spots of discoloration, you will need to clear this up before you can get into the spa’s water. If you see a lot of rust, you will have to drain it until the area has cleared and then replace the hot tub filters.

Check out our full article on how to clean your hot tub filters for more information.

To clean your filters, I recommend the Leisure Time O Filter Cleaner.

How to Clean a Used Hot Tub

To clean a used hot tub the first step is to recognize the spa is dirty. Next, prepare the hot tub for cleaning and drain all the water. Clean the surface of the hot tub with a cloth and inspect for any damage. Rinse out the water lines, and clean the hot tub filters. Next, clean the spa cover and wipe down the inside shell with CLR to remove any calcium, rust, lime, or mold. Finally, thoroughly spray down the hot tub shell with fresh water while draining the dirty water with a submersible pump. 

When you have a used hot tub at home and are wondering how to clean it safely, then you should know that there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. If you follow some simple tips on cleaning a used spa, you will find that the process is not that difficult at all. This is because hot tubs are generally pretty easy to maintain, and if you use the right products on them, you will see that it does not get damaged too quickly.

However, before you clean the spa, you should know that there are certain things that you will need to do to ensure that the spa is safe and that you do not end up damaging the hot tub.

One of the first things you need to do is change the filter regularly. The filter is responsible for removing any impurities present in spa water, and in this case, you must clean the filter regularly. Once you have changed the spa filter, you should clean the hot tub with a good quality cleaner.

You should know that you should never place the spa in the sun. It is a good idea to store it in places where it cannot receive direct sunlight to prevent mold formation. When you have taken appropriate care of a used hot tub and used the different methods mentioned above, then you will notice that the hot tub has become as good as new.

wipe hot tub

The Best Way to Clean a Hot Tub is to Drain It

There are two methods on how to drain a hot tub. The first is to use a submersible pump to suck the water out of the spa. A 1/4 horsepower utility pump should do the trick. The second is to attach a hose to the drainage valve and let gravity do the work. It can take up to 2 hours to drain a hot tub. However, this depends on the size of the spa and the amount of water it holds.

The simplest and most effective way to effectively clean your hot tub is by draining all the water out, cleaning the entire hot tub surface, and filling it with new water. By draining all the water out, you allow you to add fresh, cleaner water, which will dramatically improve your water’s feel and give you an even better bathing experience overall.

Now, if your hot tub cover isn’t draining or doesn’t have enough water to go through, you need to do one of two things. First, it could be that there is a clog in the system. To fix this, you have to unscrew the coupling and remove the cover. A strong vacuum cleaner is your next best bet to cleaning out the hot tub if there’s a lot of debris.

Draining the water from your hot tub is a part of its maintenance. The draining process is quite simple, especially if the tub is placed close to a drain. If you have not installed the spa yet, then make sure to install it somewhere close to a drain or plan to have access to a hose.

You will need a garden hose that is long enough to connect the tub to the drain.

Draining the water out of the hot tub can be done in two ways. These are:

These are the two most efficient ways by which you can drain out the water from your hot tub. If you are in a hurry and want to drain the spa as fast as possible, then using the pump is the best way. But in case you don’t have the pump, you can use the valve method.

Check out our full article on how to drain a hot tub for more information.

Draining a Hot Tub Using the Drain Valve

This is the slower method. But it is the easiest method to drain out the tub because these valves are located conveniently within the hot tub.

You should follow these steps to drain the spa:

Step 1

You have to first turn off the power of the spa from the circuit breaker. Ensure that the jets and the pumps are not running when there is no water in the tub. This can cause damage to these components.

Step 2

Spot the drain valve, which is generally located at the bottom of the hot tub’s main panel. But in some models, it can also be placed right on the corner. Most of the hot tubs come with two valves – a primary valve and an auxiliary valve. You have to use the primary valve for draining most of the water. Once the water is drained, you can open the auxiliary one too to drain the rest.

Step 3

You can attach the hose to this drain valve. Now, run the hose to the drain nearby. This is the best way to drain the entire water without damaging your outdoor space. Make sure to open the ball valve so the last drop of water can drain out.

I recommend the Flexzilla garden hose for its length and durability.

Draining Hot Tub Using a Submersible Pump

This is a faster method to drain a hot tub than the previous one. All you need for this is a submersible pump, which can drain the entire hot tub in about 30 minutes. But it depends on the size of the tub as well.

I recommend the Superior 1/4 HP Thermoplastic Utility Pump.

Follow these steps to drain your hot tub using the pump:

Step 1

In this process, you have to switch off your hot tub’s power at the circuit breaker. As mentioned above, the jets and pumps shouldn’t work when there is no water in the tub. It can cause damages.

Step 2

You have to place the submersible pump into the hot tub. Make sure you are putting it on the footwell or at the deepest point of your tub. Now, run the hose from the pump to the nearest drain.

Step 3

Turn the power of the submersible pump on. Let the water from your spa drain completely. It will take some time, depending on the size and volume of the water.

Step 4

When the water is completely drained and the tub is empty, switch the pump off. Now, remove the pump from the tub and detach the hose too.

How to Clean a Hot Tub Without Draining it

Learning how to clean hot tub water is an essential part of owning and enjoying your hot tub. Hot tub chemicals tend to build up over time, and even if you take all of the proper steps to keep it clean, there may still be a lot of build-ups that you want to get rid of. If you’re unsure how to clean your tub’s water, there are some simple guidelines that you can follow to ensure that you don’t ruin the quality and cleanliness of your hot tub.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re not doing anything that could damage your hot tub. For instance, if you’ve ever had dirt or debris removed from it before, you should avoid doing any of the work. This is because there is likely still some build-up that needs to be cleared away before you’re able to enjoy the smooth cleanliness of your hot tub again.

Check out our full article on how to prevent hot tub foam and cloudy hot tub water for more information.

We’ll go through the six steps to clean a hot tub without draining it.

Test the Water

Check the sanitizer levels and pH of the water and adjust them to the recommended levels. There are test strips available that are cheap to buy. If you own a spa and have to check more often, then buy an electronic checker.

Bromine and chlorine levels should be 2-3 ppm and 3-5 ppm, respectively. Check if it has solved the problem.

Keep the pH between 7 and 7.2 as high pH can make the water cloudy. Make sure to shock the water after the hot tub has been heavily used. If the chlorine shock is still causing cloudiness, then use a non-chlorine one.

I recommend these water test strips from JNW Direct Pool and Spa to test your water.

Clean the Hot Tub Filters

If you haven’t cleaned your filter in a long time, then use a filter cleaner as it might have become filthy and stuffed with oils and biofilm. As the oils won’t come off just by rinsing with a garden hose, a chemical compound must be used, such as a filter cleaner. The filter cleaner breaks the greasy stuff down and restores the total water flow. The filter should be replaced after one year or ten cleanings.

If you use a DE filter, then check if it is ripped. DE filters are becoming more common, and there is a good chance that you use one too. They contain rocks finely powdered and are sealed in a bag that allows the water to go through. If the bag gets ripped by something sharp, the powder enters the water, and the spa water becomes cloudy.

Check out our full article on how to clean hot tub filters step by step!

Hot tub filters come in all shapes and sizes.

Our recommendation for larger filters is Guardian Pool/Spa filters.

Our recommendation for the smaller filters is Intex filters for inflatable hot tubs.

Shock the Spa

Cloudiness is due mainly to the increased proportion of greasy and dirty materials in the water. So, the best way to remove this stuff is to shock the water. Shocking is done only to flush all the yucky stuff out of the hot tub. Use chlorine or bromine shocks as per manufacturers’ recommendations.

Don’t forget to clean the filters afterward as they get filthy after shocking.

Check out our full article on shocking your hot tub and the steps to do it properly.

Below is our recommendation for non-chlorine spa shock.

Our recommendation for chlorine shock.

Add Chlorine

Adding chlorine to water is equivalent to shocking.

Keep the sanitizer levels under control by checking with check strips. Add chlorine accordingly.

Add small amounts of chlorine until the water becomes clear again.

Check out our full article on chlorine tablets and how to administer them.

Below is our recommendation for chlorine tablets.

Our recommendation for a chlorine dispenser.

How to Clean a Hot Tub Pump

To clean a hot tub pump, turn off the power to the hot tub and drain the spa. Next, if the pump is clogged or needs proper cleaning, remove the pump from the hot tub cabinet. It may be necessary to call a professional to do this. Finally, after the pump has been properly cleaned, reconnect the pump and refill the hot tub.

How to clean a hot tub pump can be a bit of a mystery to some people who are new to hot tub ownership. While you might not think that you need to clean your pump, it is possible that you could end up damaging the pump or even ruining it when you go about cleaning it incorrectly. When you begin learning how to clean a hot tub pump, you will first need to make sure that you have all of the proper equipment available to make the cleaning process as easy and effective as possible.

If you are unsure which cleaning supplies you will need to complete this task; you can also purchase a hot tub pump cleaning kit. These kits include all of the necessary supplies and chemicals needed for cleaning your pump.

Once you have all of your supplies gathered and ready to begin cleaning your pump, you must follow the instructions provided with your pump carefully. Some pumps may have a certain number of settings that need to be reset to clean them properly, so you must know what these numbers are in advance of beginning the cleaning process. Once you have reset all of the settings on your hot tub pump and are ready to start cleaning it, you should place a few plastic sheets over the pump to protect it from any liquids or dirt that might end up inside it.

Once you have set the plastic over the pump, you should spray the entire area with a non-skid mixture of hot water and detergent to help loosen up the dirt.

When the dirt has been loosened up, you should use a small brush to scrub the dirt off of the pump. Once you have finished the cleaning process, you should rinse off the area with hot water and air dry. Once your hot tub pump is dry and cleaned, you should then assemble your pump and reinstall the hardware.

If your hot tub pump is not working, check out our full article on the subject for more information.

How to Clean a Hot Tub with Vinegar

To clean a hot tub with vinegar:

  1. Pour one gallon of white distilled vinegar into the hot tub.
  2. Allow the vinegar to circulate for 2 to 3 hours at minimum or overnight for maximum results. The vinegar will kill bacteria and remove bio-film build-up inside the hot tub piping.
  3. Drain the hot tub and clean it thoroughly.

Vinegar is one of the best cleaning agents that can be used in a hot tub. You will need to find some citric vinegar for this purpose so that you can make your hot tub a clean and hygienic place to relax.

You should be aware that there are different ways on how to clean a hot tub with vinegar; however, if you follow the instructions, you should get good results in no time at all. Vinegar is known to be very effective in removing dirt, debris, and germs that have accumulated in your hot tub. Once this is done, you can enjoy relaxing in it for as long as you want.

The best thing about vinegar for cleaning a hot tub is that there is absolutely no cost involved in doing it. You don’t have to worry about using any harmful chemicals for this task so that you will save money in the process.

Check out this great article from swimuniversity.com about household items you can use to clean your hot tub.

I recommend this distilled white vinegar.

How to Clean a Hot Tub with Bleach

The seven steps to clean a hot tub with bleach:

  1. Add 8 ounces of pipe cleaner to the spa water and mix.
  2. Drain the hot tub
  3. While wearing gloves, mix 50% water and 50% bleach into a small bucket or spray bottle.
  4. Spray the shell of the hot tub thoroughly with the water and bleach mixture.
  5. Let the bleach sit on the spa surface for 10 to 15 minutes
  6. Thoroughly scrub the hot tub shell with a sponge or towel
  7. Rise the hot tub with fresh water

If you have hot tubs at your home, then chances are you want to make sure that you can clean them regularly to keep them looking nice and to ensure that they are healthy. However, doing so without the proper chemicals for hot tub cleaning can be risky and even dangerous. For this reason, you should learn more about how to use bleach safely in hot tubs and in cleaning them afterward. You must take all precautions whenever you are working with chemicals to ensure everyone’s safety in the room.

Before you get started cleaning your hot tub with bleach, you need to make sure that it has completely cooled off. This should be done by leaving it out for a few hours or so after it has been filled with water. Once it has cooled down, you can start cleaning it with the chemicals. To do this, you will need to bring the hot tub to the room where you plan to do the cleaning and get all of the accumulated debris out of the hot tub.

Once you have done this, you should mix the cleaning chemical into a spray bottle. Then you should spray the entire area, including the sides and bottom of the hot tub. Ensure that you pour the chemical into the water to coat the whole surface of the hot tub. After you have done this, you can allow it to sit for about an hour, depending on the amount of time it takes to do the cleaning properly. After that, you can finish up the cleaning by scrubbing it down thoroughly with a sponge.

I recommend Clorox Bleach.

How to Clean a Hot Tub: Conclusion

how to clean a hot tub

I have seen that cleaning a hot tub can take some time and effort. Cleaning everything from the filters, cover, shell, and even the outer parts of the spa including the cabinet and railings are all important.

Cleaning a hot tub with vinegar or bleach is both effective ways of cleaning a hot tub. Our recommended way is to clean using CLR and a sponge, and then to rinse the hot tub thoroughly.

Check out this great article from wikihow.com about how to clean a hot tub for more information.

I hope you found this article on how to clean a hot tub helpful.

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Dillon

I'm Dillon, creator of SpaToolKit.com. During the day I'm a software developer for an engineering company. At night I enjoy sitting in my hot tub and relaxing. My hope is that Spa Tool Kit will be a place where you can find the best information on hot tubs, spa equipment, setups, parts, and accessories. Let's get started!