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How to clean a hot tub

How to clean a hot tub
(Image credit: Hot Springs)

Knowing how to clean a hot tub will make sure your tub lasts for as long as possible. While they’re designed to make it easier, even the best hot tubs need to be cleaned from time to time. This makes sure that jets and filters are working properly, and there’s no buildup of nasties from prolonged use. Not only is cleaning your hot tub important for the health of your tub, it’s also important for your own health. If left un-cleaned, germs can multiply in your hot tub and lead to infections or illness after longer periods. 

If you’re a hot tub owner, your hot tub probably came with specific cleaning instructions. You should definitely read those before following our guidance. Regardless of which model you own though, the basic principles are the same. Cleaning a hot tub involves running a cleaner through the system before draining it and cleaning the interior. This also applies to the best swim spas and best inflatable hot tubs, because they also come with in-built jets and filters that will need to be cleaned after use.

How often should you clean a hot tub? The answer is roughly the same for all models, and our guidance would be on a quarterly basis. This means giving your hot tub a deep clean every three months. If you winterize your hot tub this can be less regular, because you only need to deep clean your hot tub after regular use - and if you don’t know how to winterize a hot tub, we’ve also covered that topic. 

You should set aside a full day to clean your hot tub. A lot of this will involve waiting around for drainage, or cleaning cycles to complete, but cleaning a hot tub isn’t a quick task. Here is our full list of instructions on how to deep clean your tub, as well as how often the filters and hot tub cover need cleaning. 

How to deep clean your hot tub

To do a complete deep clean, you should drain your hot tub. However, if you want to thoroughly clean as many component parts of your hot tub as possible in one go, try running some cleaning solution through your jets to degrease and clear the internal plumbing. Amazon sells some hot tub jet cleaners which you can run through your spa, but your hot tub brand may well sell hot tub cleaner or have suggestions of its own, so consult before choosing the right rinse for you. Once you’ve added this to your hot tub water, turn on all your jets and any waterfall elements. This will push your cleaning solution through jets and internal plumbing, and you should do this for at least 30 minutes, or up to two hours to do a really thorough purge of any oil or nasties your hot tub has built up. 

How to deep clean your hot tub

You should clean jets and waterfall features before draining your hot tub.  (Image credit: Master Spas)

Once this is done, it’s time to drain your hot tub. You certainly don’t want to go in your hot tub once you’ve added cleaner to the water, and this gives you the chance to get rid of any gunk that came out of your jets and waterfall elements for good. Refer to your owner’s manual for draining instructions, and make sure you’re able to do this safely. This may mean turning off your hot tub completely at the breaker.

When it’s empty, clean your hot tub shell with a gentle cleanser. It should be non-abrasive and non-sudsing, and the cloth you use to do this should be soft and gentle. You don’t want to damage the finish and shine of your hot tub interior. Sometimes, lines of particularly stubborn buildup emerge around the waterline of your hot tub, where oil and grime tends to sit. To clean this, and any other harsher areas, you can simply use a white vinegar and some water on a soft cloth. 

Before refilling your hot tub, give it a thorough rinse with a hose. You don’t want to be relaxing in your diluted cleaning products, and equally, they may cause bubbles which will throw off the chemistry of your hot tub water. Refill as your hot tub manufacturer instructs - this will include chemically treating your new water.

How to clean a hot tub filter

If you’re taking the time to do a deep clean on your hot tub, you should give your filter a clean too. This is easy to do when your hot tub is empty, although it can also be done every month by simply removing the filter from your full hot tub when switched off at the breaker. Most brands suggest cleaning your filter with a hose - rotating it while spraying with a powerful jet of water will rinse debris from filter pleats and scrubbing with a brush to remove any stubborn patches.

A woman relaxing in a hot tub at sunset

You should do a deep clean on your hot tub at least twice a year.  (Image credit: Getty / iStock)

Every hot tub filter is different, and each should come with cleaning instructions. PDC spas suggests leaving your filter in a five gallon bucket with hot water and a half cup of bleach for 12 to 24 hours before rinsing thoroughly and returning to your hot tub. Hot Spring suggests using a specific filter cleaner, and replacing filters every few years. Royal Spa even says you can run a filter through a dishwasher, cautioning that you ought not to use soap or heat dry if you choose to do this.  

How to clean a hot tub cover

If you own a hot tub, buying a cover is essential to keep it in top condition. A hot tub cover will help you to winterize your hot tub and protect it from debris such as leaves, twigs, and dirt. 

Master Spas has some great guidance on how to clean a hot tub cover in a handy YouTube video.

Make sure that when cleaning, you remove the cover from your hot tub and place it in a soft and non-abrasive surface. Rinse with a hose to loosen up any dirt, and clean with a soft cloth or sponge and some regular washing solution to shift dirt and dust. Repeat on the inside of your cover, and then dry both top and bottom of your hot tub cover thoroughly, to prevent any washing solution from entering your hot tub water. You should also treat your vinyl cover for longer use - Master Spas warns against using any products with petroleum, citrus, or silicon. 

How often should you clean your hot tub? 

Various component parts of your hot tub require specific, regular care. The filter, for example, should be cleaned as often as every month, according to hot tub retailer SunSpa. Skimmer baskets, which remove debris from your hot tub, should be emptied and cleaned every two weeks. 

Less regular cleaning is required for your hot tub cover - this should be done at least a few times a year according to PDC Spas. As for your hot tub itself, you should drain the hot tub seasonally at least. According to SunSpa, this takes only four hours each time you do it, but it’s essential to keep your hot tub clean and sanitary. Sanitizing and treating with chemicals should be done weekly, though. To clean hot tub jets, PDC Spas recommends you run them on full blast after shocking your hot tub water for at least 30 minutes, to clear out any debris.

Millie is a staff writer at Top Ten Reviews who joined the team straight out of college, where she spent more time working on the student newspaper than her actual degree. Her spare time is spent traveling, cooking, playing guitar and she's currently learning how to knit. Millie loves tracking down a good deal and keeping up-to-date on the newest technology and kitchen appliances. She has also written for Top Ten Reviews' sister site, Real Homes.