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How To Clean a Hot Tub Step By Step

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No one likes a dirty hot tub. Or at the very least, most people don’t like a dirty hot tub. Why would anyone want to sit in dirty water when you could be soaking in clean water? Imagine a hot tub you sit in that makes you dirty. Who could possibly think that’s a good idea? That’s the complete opposite of a bathtub. 

Being in the hot tub industry, we have heard horror stories of disgusting hot tubs. We’ve heard about spas where the water quality was so bad you couldn’t see the bottom of the hot tub, spas where the hot tub chemicals were so unbalanced it caused mold, algae and bacteria to grow, and many other horror stories. Sometimes the damage done by improper hot tub and water care was so severe the spa could not function anymore. Proper hot tub maintenance can extend the life of your hot tub exponentially. Most hot tubs that are well taken care of can last 8 to 20 years. Something as body oils can mess up your hot tub’s water chemistry and cause issues. We want to help you get the most from your hot tub, so we’re going to explain how to clean a hot tub. The cleaning steps for in ground hot tubs, above ground hot tubs, as well as inflatable hot tubs are essentially the same, but may require different methods to do them.

Cleaning a Hot Tub Step by Step

1) Flush The Lines

The first step in hot tub cleaning is to flush out the plumbing lines. This requires your hot tub to still be on. Many people will actually skip this step, but it’s essential to giving your hot tub a true deep clean. Over the usage of your hot tub, bacteria can build up inside the plumbing. You do not need hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, white vinegar, or any other cleaning products. There is a product called “Hot Tub System Flush” specifically designed to help clean your hot tub’s plumbing. 

To use hot tub flush, simply pour it into your hot tub water and let it circulate for about 20 minutes. If you want a super clean hot tub, you can leave the flush in for up to 4 hours. When cleaning out hot tubs with flush, it’s possible a thick brown or black foam will come to the surface. It may be worrisome, but it just means the flush is effectively cleaning out the plumbing. 

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2) Drain Your Hot Tub

After cleaning the plumbing of the hot tub, you now want to drain the water from your hot tub. It’s important to make sure your hot tub is off before draining the hot tub. Once your hot tub is off, you’ll want to remove the filter. Your hot tub will have a side designed for service access. Inside this service access area is your drain valve. There will be a drain fitting with a shutoff valve that fits the female end of a garden hose. Make sure the other end of the hose is in a location where you are okay to release the water from the hot tub. The water you are draining will not be fresh water, but it is safe to dispose of in your yard, septic system or in a drain. However, make sure you follow all local/municipal codes and regulations for disposal. You will now twist the shutoff valve counterclockwise to open the valve and drain the water. You’ll want to let the spa completely drain before closing the valve. This can take a while to drain, so while it does so, you can clean your hot tub filters and cover.

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3) Clean your Filters

To clean your filter, you can just spray it off with a hose (with clean water, not the dirty spa water being drained). We only recommend this if your hot tub filter is fairly new. A hot tub filter can be reused, but should also be replaced every now and then. You can read more about cleaning your filters here

4) Clean Your Cover

Cleaning a cover can be done with a cover cleanser. To clean a hot tub cover, spray the cleanser on one side of the cover and scrub. Some cleanser’s may tell you to rinse it off, others will not. Once one side is done, you can do the other side. After washing your cover, wipe down the underside (inside part of the cover) of it with a 10:1 water and white vinegar solution. This helps prevent mold and mildew growth on the cover.  You can read more about cleaning your cover here

5) Clean Your Hot Tub Shell

Now that you have cleaned the hot tubs plumbing and drained the hot tub, the next step is to clean the hot tub shell. The shell is what the inner part of the hot tub is called. This part is where people sit and the water fills. You can spray the shell with a hose if possible or use a clean, wet washcloth to remove any dirt and grime. Using a hot tub cleanser can make this process even easier. There are hot tub cleansers designed to clean the shell of your hot tub. Some multi-purpose sprays can be too abrasive and damage the spa shell or leave residue that will mess up the water chemistry. Using some cleaners not designed for hot tubs can even void your hot tubs warranty depending on the company. 

After cleaning your spa, you may want to consider using a hot tub polish as well. This creates a protective layer that bonds to the spa and protects it from scratches and stains. 

6) Clean Your Hot Tub’s Cabinet

After cleaning the inside of the spa, you need to clean the outside of the spa. Some spas cabinet is made of wood and others are resin. This will affect the cleaner you should use. For a wooden cabinet, they have cleaners specifically made for cleaning wood. You’ll want to use this. If you have a resin cabinet, you can actually just spray it with a hose and use a multi-purpose cleaner to clean the outside. 

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7) Refill Your Hot Tub

With your hot tub interior and exterior now cleaned, you can refill your hot tub. Once your spa is full, you can turn your spa back on. 

8) Maintain your Water

After cleaning and filling your spa, you’ll want to test the water chemistry. Above we mentioned some cleaners can mess up your water chemistry. This is why you’ll now want to test the water chemistry and take the needed actions to correct it. You can read more about water chemistry here, or read about the importance of water care here

9) Repeat

You’ll want to clean your spa every so often. Maintaining water chemistry should be done daily. Ideally, you should clean your filters weekly or monthly. We recommend cleaning your cover every 2 or 3 months. You should clean your hot tub shell and cabinet every 3 to 4 months. This all seems like a lot, but a hot tub is a couple thousand dollar investment. You’ll want to take proper care of it and doing so can extend it’s lifespan. Taking proper care of your spa also eliminates most problems your spa will encounter, saving you money later. 


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