How to Drain and Clean a Hot Tub

Hot Tub Health Benefits

Keeping our Hot Tubs clean and germ-free is an important part of owning one. In this article, we will look at some of the best tips from around the web on Cleaning and Draining a Hot Tub.

There are several reasons you may want to drain your hot tub. Most importantly, it’s a good idea to replace your tub’s water quarterly to avoid over-exposing your water to sanitizers and chemicals. As well, it gives you a chance to clean out the shell of the hot tub and the front ends of your jets. How tub water can last between 3 to 4 months, after which non-organic contaminants, such as sun block or lotion, and salt from perspiration (all known as Total Dissolved Solids) can make your hot tub water cloudy and begin to cause chemical imbalances. By replacing your spa’s water, you’re ensuring your water will stay sanitized and look great.

It may be to prepare for the winter or just flush out the system in the summer, but either way, draining your hot tub should happen once every 3 to 4 months, so you should know how to properly drain your hot tub.

It’s a simple process to drain your hot tub.

  • First, turn off the spa’s circuit breaker. You certainly don’t want your hot tub trying to heat, filter, and pump while there’s no water inside the tub. Cutting the circuit is the easiest way to guarantee this won’t happen (Make sure not to turn your circuit back on until your spa is filled to normal operating levels).
  • It is recommended to use a submersible pump to help push out the water from the hot tub. If you don’t have a submersible pump, you can use a household garden hose.  The steps continuing, are for a garden hose.
  • Remove the front panel of your hot tub and locate the hose spigot.
  • Attach the hose and unravel it to a safe distance. It’s best to bring the hose to a safe spot where the water can be drained successfully. Leaving the hose in your yard will cause flooding. Instead, bring it to a driveway and allow the water to flow into the street.
  • Once the hose is attached, open the spigot to allow the water to drain. This is called a gravity drain, which can take longer than a submersible pump, but is just as effective.
  • When all the water that can flow through the hose has finished, use a mop or wet/dry vac to remove any remaining water left at the bottom of the hot tub. You’ll want to get your hot tub as dry as possible to allow the best possible cleaning. Use a soft, dry cloth to ensure all moisture is out of the tub.
  • Now is the best time to begin cleaning your hot tub shell. Use Multi Purpose Cleaner to clear the shell surface of debris and mildew. Make sure to wipe out the front of jets and any crevices that are hard to reach, that is where mildew and debris can easily hide.
  • Use a wax on the surface of your tub to help create a shiny protective coat that will help keep your hot tub’s surface in great shape.
  • While doing that, consider also cleaning out your hot tub filters. As the hot tub is not running, it’s a stress free time to allow the filters to soak. Consider replacing your filters annually.
  • As well, it’s a great time to condition your cover, clean off your hot tub’s cabinetry with a garden house, check the inside of your tub to ensure no leakage.
  • Once you feel the hot tub shell is sufficiently clean, detach your hose, and close the hose spigot tightly. Then, begin to refill your hot tub.

How to Clean a Hot Tub the Natural Way

Before we jump into the everyday household products you can use to clean your hot tub, let’s talk about the types of cleaners you’ll find in your kitchen cabinet. This will help you understand what types of cleaners are best for certain types of work.

For example, you wouldn’t use bleach to clean a sensitive surface anymore than you’d use olive oil to clean your toilet. Let’s not even talk about what kind of mess that would be. Yikes.

Knowing why these products work makes it easier to understand when and how to use them.

  • Detergents: They help remove sticky stains by emulsifying the oils that bind dirt to the surface. Conventional examples include laundry detergent and dishwashing soap.
  • Acids: This class of products break down rust and hard water stains. These are the toilet bowl, tile, and mold cleaners.
  • Sanitizers: As the name suggests, these products disinfect and remove stains and odors. These are typically the harshest chemicals, like chlorine bleach.
  • Bases: These cleaners remove dirt, fat, and grease. Commercially, these fall under the category of all-purpose cleaners.
  • Abrasives: You want to be careful with these because as their name suggests, abrasives can scratch whatever surface you’re cleaning. Steel wool and scouring powders are common commercial examples.

How Often Should You Clean a Hot Tub?

When it comes to cleaning a hot tub, there’s no easy answer to the question, “how often?”. That’s because hot tub maintenance is not a one time clean that cures all your hot tub woes. Hot tub cleaning and maintenance is an on-going project that ensures the hot tub’s water, accessories, and interior are all safe for use. Here is our recommended timeline for how often you should clean your hot tub at varying stages.

Every 3 to 4 Days:

Every few days, especially when your hot tub is getting a lot of use, you’ll want to do a visual and chemical check of your hot tub. This includes:

  • Checking the water for any discoloration, cloudiness, or film resting on top.
  • Using testing strips to determine the chemical levels in your water and which chemicals to adjust to keep your water sanitized. You will need to test alkalinity, bromine or chlorine, calcium hardness, and finally your pH levels. Make sure to space about two hours between every chemical you add to the water. This will allow each chemical to properly adjust while avoiding negative chemical reactions.

Once a Month:

It’s a good idea to clean out your hot tub’s filter at least once a month. Remove it from the hot tub and use filter cleaning products to release dust, debris, and unwanted chemicals from the filter. It helps to use two filters, switching them every month, which allows time to clean one filter while another is in use. This will keep both your filters lasting longer and your water cleaner.

Also wash your hot tub cover at least once a month. Use a hot tub cover cleaner and conditioner to protect your cover from harmful weather conditions such as UV rays, snow, and rain. This will help your hot tub cover last longer and protect your hot tub water from harmful, unwanted chemicals.

Every 4 to 6 Months:

Depending on how much you use your hot tub, you’ll want to drain it every 4 to 6 months. We recommend 4 months for anyone using their hot tub two or more times a week. If you’re using it less than that, you can wait a little longer to drain. Once drained, inspect each jet and interior shell components for damages or build up of grime and dirt. Use a safe, manufacturer-approved, interior shell cleaning agent to remove unwanted oil, dirt, and grime.

Once finished, refill your hot tub with fresh, clean water. Make sure to allow the hose you use to to run for a few minutes before placing in your tub. This ensures unwanted debris does not find its way into your hot tub. Always add water through the filter compartment to prevent air locks.

Once a Year:

We recommend that, once a year, when you plan to drain your hot tub, to request a maintenance check from one of our ThermoSpas’ technicians. Just like taking your car into the shop for a routine check up, having your hot tub looked at once a year can help prevent future problems that can drastically damage mechanisms and stop your hot tub from working properly.

If you follow this simple timeline, you can have a powerful, clean hot tub for many years. If you have questions about your hot tub’s maintenance or are interested in a yearly check up by one of our ThermoSpa technicians contact us today, we’d love to help.


Can I Help You?

If I can help you in any way I would love to hear from you. You can get in touch using the form below.

Thanks - Andi


Hi, Andi here. I own and also write all of the articles and info pages on the site. Some years back now, I built my own hot tub but struggled to find the information I needed. So, once my tub was complete, I started this website to help others in their own pursuit of hot tub and plunge pools DIY building information.

Today, I've helped over 1000 DIY customers just like you all over the world build hot tubs and pools. Have a good look around the site, there are lots of resources here. Please do get in touch if I can help you. - Cheers, Andi

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