Cleaning a Hot Tub: Complete Step-by-Step Process

Cleaning a hot tub is not just a chore, it’s a necessity. Picture this: you’re about to step into your hot tub after a long day, expecting a relaxing soak. But instead, you’re greeted by murky water and an unpleasant smell. Not quite the tranquil experience you were hoping for, right?

That’s why hot tub maintenance is so crucial. It ensures your hot tub remains a haven of relaxation rather than becoming a source of stress. Regular spa cleaning not only enhances your hot tub experience but also extends the lifespan of your tub, saving you money in the long run.

Cleaning your hot tub is crucial for your health, the longevity of your tub, and its performance. Regular maintenance, including surface cleaning, filter cleaning, and deep cleaning, prevents bacteria buildup and ensures efficient operation.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of how to clean dirty hot tub water, how to deep clean a hot tub, and everything in between. From hot tub sanitation to hot tub water care, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and get your hot tub sparkling clean!

Key Takeaways
Cleaning a hot tub is crucial for your health, the longevity of your hot tub, and its efficiency and performance.
Regular hot tub maintenance includes weekly surface cleaning, bi-weekly filter cleaning, and quarterly draining and deep cleaning.
Signs that your hot tub needs cleaning include cloudy or foamy water, unpleasant smell, slimy or sticky surfaces, and poor water flow.
Essential cleaning supplies include a hot tub cleaner, filter cleaner, soft cloth or sponge, soft-bristled brush, garden hose, bucket, water test kit, hot tub chemicals, and a replacement filter.
Flushing the hot tub lines helps remove biofilm, a slimy substance that harbors bacteria.
Draining the hot tub allows you to clean the shell and remove any grime, oil, and scale.
Cleaning or replacing the hot tub filter ensures efficient water circulation and filtration.
Refilling the hot tub with fresh water and balancing the water chemistry ensures the water is safe and comfortable for soaking.
Cleaning the hot tub cover and cabinet helps maintain the overall appearance and condition of your hot tub.
Even when in a hurry, quick cleaning methods such as a surface wipe down, filter rinse, chemical check and balance, and shock treatment can help keep your hot tub clean.
cleaning hot tub

Why Clean a Hot Tub?

You might be wondering, why all this fuss about cleaning a hot tub? Well, there are three compelling reasons: your health, the longevity of your hot tub, and its efficiency and performance.

Health Implications

First and foremost, your health is at stake. A poorly maintained hot tub can become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. These unwanted guests can lead to skin irritations, respiratory issues, and even serious infections. Regular hot tub sanitation and hot tub water care are essential to prevent these health risks. By learning how to clean dirty hot tub water, you’re not just cleaning your tub, you’re safeguarding your health.

Longevity of the Hot Tub

Next, consider the lifespan of your hot tub. Just like any other investment, you want your hot tub to last. Regular spa cleaning and maintenance can significantly extend the life of your hot tub. It prevents the buildup of grime and mineral deposits that can damage the tub’s surface and internal components. By taking the time to deep clean your hot tub, you’re ensuring that it will provide relaxation and enjoyment for years to come.

Efficiency and Performance

Finally, let’s talk about efficiency and performance. A clean hot tub simply works better. It heats up faster, the jets function more effectively, and the water stays clear and inviting. Regular tasks like hot tub filter cleaning, hot tub draining, and hot tub refilling can greatly improve the performance of your tub. Plus, a well-maintained hot tub is more energy-efficient, which can save you money on your energy bills.

In conclusion, cleaning a hot tub is not just about aesthetics. It’s about your health, the lifespan of your tub, and its performance. So, roll up your sleeves and let’s get cleaning!

clean hot tub

When to Clean a Hot Tub?

Knowing when to clean a hot tub is just as important as knowing how to clean it. Regular maintenance and keen observation of your hot tub’s condition are key to keeping it in top shape.

Regular Maintenance Schedule

Establishing a hot tub maintenance schedule is the first step. Regular cleaning prevents the buildup of bacteria, mold, and mineral deposits, ensuring your hot tub is always ready for a relaxing soak. Here’s a simple schedule to follow:

  • Hot tub surface cleaning: Once a week. This includes wiping down the shell and waterline to prevent scum buildup.
  • Hot tub filter cleaning: Every two weeks. A clean filter ensures efficient water circulation and filtration.
  • Hot tub draining and deep cleaning: Every three to four months. This includes hot tub line flushing, hot tub shell cleaning, and hot tub cover cleaning.

Remember, this is a general guideline. Depending on your hot tub usage and the quality of your water source, you may need to adjust this schedule.

Signs That Your Hot Tub Needs Cleaning

In addition to your regular cleaning schedule, you should also be on the lookout for signs that your hot tub needs cleaning. Here are some indicators:

  • Cloudy water or foamy water: This could be a sign of high mineral content, imbalanced chemical levels, or a dirty filter.
  • Unpleasant smell: A musty or chlorinated smell could indicate bacteria or algae buildup.
  • Slimy or sticky surfaces: This is often a sign of bacterial growth.
  • Poor water flow: This could mean your filter needs cleaning or replacement.

By keeping a regular hot tub cleaning schedule and paying attention to these signs, you ensure that your hot tub stays clean, safe, and enjoyable. So, don’t wait for your hot tub to scream for help. Be proactive and keep it clean!

Materials Needed for Cleaning a Hot Tub

Before you roll up your sleeves and start cleaning a hot tub, it’s important to gather all the necessary supplies. Having the right tools and products at hand will make the process smoother and more efficient. Here’s a list of essential hot tub cleaning products and their purposes:

Cleaning Supplies

  • Hot Tub Cleaner: This is a specially formulated cleaner designed to remove grime, oil, and scale from your hot tub’s surfaces. It’s essential for hot tub surface cleaning and hot tub shell cleaning.
  • Filter Cleaner: A filter cleaner is used for hot tub filter cleaning. It helps remove oils, scale, and other contaminants that can clog your filter and reduce its efficiency.
  • Soft Cloth or Sponge: You’ll need this for wiping down the surfaces of your hot tub. Always opt for non-abrasive materials to avoid scratching your hot tub’s finish.
  • Soft-Bristled Brush: This is useful for scrubbing away stubborn grime or scale, especially in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Garden Hose: You’ll need this for hot tub draining and hot tub refilling.
  • Bucket: A bucket is handy for mixing your cleaning solutions and for rinsing purposes.
  • Water Test Kit: This is crucial for hot tub water testing. It helps you monitor the chemical balance of your hot tub water, ensuring it’s safe and comfortable for soaking.
  • Hot Tub Chemicals: These include sanitizers, shock treatments, pH balancers, and other chemicals necessary for maintaining the water quality in your hot tub.
  • Replacement Filter: It’s a good idea to have a replacement filter on hand, just in case your current filter is beyond cleaning and needs to be replaced.

Remember, using the right tools and products not only makes the cleaning process easier but also ensures that your hot tub is thoroughly cleaned and safe for use. So, gather your supplies and let’s get your hot tub sparkling clean!

hot tub cleaning

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Hot Tub

Cleaning a hot tub might seem daunting, but with the right approach, it’s a breeze. Here’s a detailed, step-by-step guide to cleaning a hot tub.

Flushing the Hot Tub Lines

The first step in how to deep clean a hot tub is flushing the lines. Over time, biofilm – a slimy substance that harbors bacteria – can accumulate in the plumbing lines.

  1. Start by adding a line flush product to your hot tub water. Follow the instructions on the product label for the correct amount.
  2. Turn on your hot tub and let the jets run for about 15-20 minutes. This allows the line flush product to circulate through the plumbing and dislodge any biofilm.
  3. After running the jets, turn off the hot tub and proceed to the next step: hot tub draining.

Draining the Hot Tub

Draining your hot tub is a straightforward process, but it’s important to do it correctly to avoid damaging your tub or the surrounding area.

  1. Locate the drain valve on your hot tub. It’s usually at the base of the tub.
  2. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and run the other end of the hose to a suitable drainage area.
  3. Open the drain valve and let the water flow out. This may take some time, so be patient.
  4. Once the tub is empty, close the drain valve.

Cleaning the Hot Tub Shell

With the hot tub drained, it’s time to clean the shell. This is where your hot tub cleaner and non-abrasive cloth or sponge come in handy.

  1. Apply the hot tub cleaner to the shell following the instructions on the product label.
  2. Use the cloth or sponge to wipe down the shell, paying extra attention to any areas with visible grime or scale.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove any residue from the cleaner.

Cleaning or Replacing the Hot Tub Filter

A clean filter is crucial for maintaining clear and water clean in your hot tub. Here’s how to clean or replace your filter.

  1. Remove the filter from its housing. The location and removal process may vary depending on your hot tub model, so refer to your owner’s manual if needed.
  2. Rinse the filter with a garden hose to remove any loose debris.
  3. If your filter is heavily soiled or hasn’t been replaced in a while, consider replacing it with a new one. If not, you can deep clean it using a filter cleaner. Follow the instructions on the product label for the correct usage.
  4. Once the filter is clean or a new one is ready, reinstall it in the filter housing.

Refilling the Hot Tub

With the hot tub and filter clean, it’s time to refill the tub.

  1. Remove the filter and fill the tub with water using a garden hose. The water level should be about halfway up the skimmer opening or as recommended by your hot tub manufacturer.
  2. Reinstall the filter.

Starting Up the Hot Tub

Now that your hot tub is clean and filled with fresh water, it’s time to start it up and balance the water chemistry.

  1. Turn on the hot tub and let the water circulate.
  2. Use your water test kit to check the water’s pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels.
  3. Adjust the water chemistry as needed using your hot tub chemicals. Always follow the instructions on the product labels for the correct usage.

Cleaning the Hot Tub Cover and Cabinet

The final step in your hot tub cleaning process is cleaning the cover and cabinet. These parts of your hot tub are often overlooked, but they need care too.

  1. Remove the cover and clean it with a mild soap and water solution or a product specifically designed for hot tub covers. Rinse thoroughly and let it dry.
  2. For the cabinet, wipe it down with a damp cloth. If your cabinet is made of wood, consider applying a wood cleaner or polish to keep it looking its best.

Congratulations! You’ve just completed a thorough cleaning of your hot tub. With regular maintenance and care, your hot tub will provide you with many years of relaxation and enjoyment. Happy soaking!

cleaning a hot tub

Hot Tub Maintenance Schedule

Maintaining a hot tub is all about consistency and simplicity. By breaking down the process into manageable steps, you can keep track of tasks without feeling overwhelmed. This technique, known as chunking, is widely used to improve productivity. It’s just as effective for planning a personal project, like a year’s worth of hot tub maintenance.

Every hot tub is different, but all benefit from simple and consistent maintenance. Setting up a schedule to keep your hot tub in top condition is easier than you might think.

Daily Hot Tub Maintenance

Daily maintenance only requires a few moments. Your daily checklist should include:

  • Ensuring the spa cover is clean and secure
  • Checking the water temperature and adjusting as necessary
  • Checking for damage to the cover and spa
  • Weekly Hot Tub Maintenance

    Adding these tasks to your list three times a week will help keep your hot tub in top condition:

  • Checking the water’s alkalinity
  • Checking and balancing the pH
  • Checking your sanitizer levels
  • Cleaning above the waterline
  • Weekly Tasks

    These tasks need your attention only once a week:

  • Testing your hot tub wate
  • Sanitizing and shocking the water
  • Rinsing your hot tub filter with water
  • Wiping down your spa cover
  • Monthly Tasks

    Once a month, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty:

    • Giving your filter a chemical rinse
    • Checking your hot tub jets
    • Having your spa water checked by a professional

    Quarterly Tasks (Every 4 Months)

    Once every three or four months, you should:

    • Clean your hot tub cabinet
    • Give your filter a chemical soak
    • Drain, clean, and repair your hot tub

    Yearly Tasks

    While many tasks could, in theory, be done annually, for optimal performance we recommend them as monthly or quarterly tasks. However, these tasks should be tackled at least once a year:

    • Flushing the lines to remove bacteria and biofilm
    • Inspecting your hot tub’s hardware and wiring
    • Having a professional perform a tune-up
    • Inspecting your cover
    • Replacing or updating your hot tub maintenance calendar

    Remember, while your hot tub is empty and drained, you can attend to weekly or quarterly tasks such as cleaning, repair, and system flushing. As the years go by, you’ll learn what works best for you and your hot tub. The new year is the perfect time for adjustments to next year’s maintenance schedule.

    Tips for Quick Hot Tub Cleaning

    We get it – life is busy. Sometimes, you need a quick solution for cleaning a hot tub. While it’s important to perform a thorough cleaning regularly, there are times when a quick clean is all you can manage. Here are some tips for those moments.

    Quick Cleaning Methods

    • Surface Wipe Down: If you’re short on time, a quick wipe down of your hot tub’s interior surfaces can help keep it clean. Use a non-abrasive cloth or sponge and a mild cleaner to wipe away any visible dirt or grime.
    • Filter Rinse: While a deep filter clean is ideal, a quick rinse can help remove surface debris and improve water flow. Simply remove the filter and rinse it with a garden hose.
    • Chemical Check and Balance: Regularly checking and balancing your hot tub’s water chemistry is crucial. Use a water test kit to quickly check the pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels, and adjust as necessary.
    • Shock Treatment: A shock treatment can quickly sanitize your hot tub water. It kills bacteria and breaks down contaminants, keeping your water fresh, clear and safe.

    Precautions to Take

    Even when you’re in a hurry, safety should never be compromised. Here are some precautions to keep in mind:

    • Never Mix Chemicals: Mixing different harsh chemicals can lead to dangerous reactions. Always add chemicals separately and allow the water to circulate before adding another type of chemical.
    • Don’t Overdo It: More is not always better when it comes to hot tub chemicals. Adding too much can lead to imbalanced water, which can damage your hot tub and irritate your skin and eyes.
    • Keep the Cover On: When your hot tub is not in use, keep the cover on. This prevents debris from entering the tub and reduces the amount of cleaning required.

    Remember, a quick clean is not a substitute for regular, thorough hot tub maintenance. But when you’re pressed for time, these tips can help keep your hot tub clean and enjoyable.


    In this section, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about cleaning a hot tub. These answers should provide you with additional insights and tips for your hot tub maintenance routine.

    What’s the best thing to clean a hot tub with?

    The best thing to clean a hot tub with is a product specifically designed for hot tub cleaning. These cleaners are formulated to effectively remove grime, oil, and scale without damaging your hot tub’s surfaces. For hot tub filter cleaning, a hot tub filter cleaner is recommended. It’s also important to have a non-abrasive cloth or sponge for wiping down surfaces, and a soft-bristled brush for scrubbing away stubborn grime.

    Should I use vinegar to clean my hot tub?

    Vinegar can be used as a natural cleaning solution for certain parts of your hot tub. It’s great for hot tub cleaning vinegar methods, especially for descaling and cleaning the cover and shell of the hot tub. However, it’s not recommended for cleaning filters or balancing water chemistry. Always rinse thoroughly after using vinegar to avoid any potential damage to your hot tub’s components.

    What is the easiest way to clean a hot tub?

    The easiest way to clean a hot tub involves regular maintenance to prevent major issues from developing. This includes weekly surface cleaning, bi-weekly filter cleaning, and quarterly draining and deep cleaning. Using the right products and tools can also make the process easier. And remember, a clean hot tub is not only easier to maintain, but it also provides a more enjoyable soaking experience.

    How do you deep clean a hot tub?

    Deep cleaning a hot tub involves several steps. First, you’ll need to flush the lines to remove any biofilm. Then, drain the hot tub and clean the shell using a hot tub cleaner. The filter should also be cleaned or replaced at this time. Once the tub is clean, refill it with fresh water, restart the hot tub, and balance the water chemistry.


    Cleaning a hot tub is not just a task on your to-do list; it’s a crucial part of owning a hot tub. Regular hot tub maintenance ensures that your hot tub remains a source of relaxation and enjoyment, rather than a cause of stress or health concerns.

    We’ve walked you through the importance of cleaning a hot tub, from safeguarding your health to extending the lifespan of your hot tub, and improving its efficiency and performance. We’ve also provided a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to clean your hot tub, from flushing the lines and draining the tub, to cleaning the shell and filter, refilling the tub, and cleaning the cover and cabinet.

    Remember, a clean hot tub is a happy hot tub. Regular maintenance, coupled with keen observation of your hot tub’s condition, will ensure that your hot tub stays in top shape. Whether you’re performing a quick clean or a deep clean, your efforts will pay off in the form of a sparkling clean hot tub ready for your next soak.

    So, don’t delay. Roll up your sleeves, gather your cleaning supplies, and give your hot tub the care it deserves. Happy cleaning!


    Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

    Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.