How to drain a hot tub: 8 easy steps with expert guidance

Hot tub in garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knowing how to drain your hot tub is essential in maintaining your tub’s hygiene and energy efficiency. It also helps protect your hot tub’s components during the colder winter months if you’re not planning to use it. 

Tools & requirements

- Hot tub flush cleaner

- Hot tub cleaner

- Screwdriver or pliers

- Scrub brush

- Garden hose 

- Towels

- Submersible pump (optional)

- Wet/dry vacuum (optional)

Draining a hot tub is relatively straightforward, and the best hot tub manufacturers will provide advice and instructions on draining your specific model. However, there are general principles that we advise you to follow to keep your tub sanitized and ensure that scaling and mineral buildup are kept at bay. Our advice will also help you keep your hot tub’s water chemistry in check, providing a safer dip for your friends and family.

This step-by-step guide will take you through the best method for draining your hot tub, from flushing out the pipes to removing every last drop of water.

Quick steps: How to drain a hot tub

  1. Flush the pipes (optional but advisable)
  2. Turn off the power
  3. Locate the drain valve or spigot 
  4. Loosen the pump and heater unions 
  5. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and open the valve 
  6. Use a submersible pump to help remove water
  7. Inspect jets and suction covers and wipe down the interior shell 
  8. Close drain valve or turn off the pump 

Step by step guide: How to drain a hot tub

1. Flush the pipes

(Image: © Getty Images)

If you’re going to go through the effort of draining and refilling your hot tub (or winterizing your hot tub over the colder months), it’s a great idea to flush the pipes first with a hot tub flush cleaning solution. “The process of draining the hot tub keeps the pipes clear and free of grime and dirt build-up, preventing further bacterial growth and biofilm,” says David Cruz, plumbing expert for MyJobQuote. It will also help to maintain good water quality, improve the efficiency of your filters, and prevent clogs and blockages further down the line.

Remove the hot tub filters and turn your jets on to full power. Then, follow the cleaning solution instructions on where to pour it and let the jets run on full power for up to half an hour.  “This will allow the cleaning agent to circulate the pipework, removing all that grime and dirt,” says Cruz. He suggests letting the hot tub run for up to five cycles with the cleaning agent added to give your tub a really thorough cleaning. 

David Cruz
David Cruz

David Cruz has worked in the plumbing industry for over fifteen years. David has worked on countless domestic and commercial projects as a plumbing expert and gas-safe engineer. David also works closely with MyJobQuote to provide expert plumbing knowledge to homeowners, tradespeople, and news outlets. 

2. Turn off the power

(Image: © Getty Images)

“It’s particularly important to make sure that the hot tub is switched off before you drain it,” says Cruz. “Running the pumps without water can cause considerable damage.” 

Find your hot tub’s power cord and main supply outlet. Shut off the power by removing the plug and coiling up any cord length to prevent accidents or injuries. If your hot tub has a side compartment for the cord, store it there. If not, pop it in a resealable plastic bag for now. 

3. Locate the drain valve or spigot

(Image: © Getty Images)

Your hot tub’s drain valve or spigot is usually on the side of the tub, but this can vary from model to model. If you’re not sure, check your hot tub manual first. Remove the valve cap. 

4. Loosen the pump and heater unions

(Image: © Getty Images)

Open your hot tub access panel to access the heater and pump unions. Loosen them slightly to allow any water within to drain away. If your hot tub has multiple unions, repeat this process for each one. 

5. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and open the valve

(Image: © Getty Images)

Attach a garden hose to the drain valve or spigot and lead the other end of the hose to the nearest drain. Head back to your drain valve and open it slowly, then fully, so the water can drain away. 

It can typically take around a couple of hours for a standard-sized hot tub to empty. Use a wet/dry vacuum (the Stanley SL18116P at Amazon is an affordable option) or some absorbent towels to mop up any last puddles of water.

6. Use a submersible pump (sump pump)

(Image: © Getty Images)

Using a submersible pump (like the DEKOPRO at Amazon) instead of a garden hose can significantly speed up draining your hot tub. Plug in your pump and run the hose to the nearest drain. Then, pop the pump on the deepest part of your hot tub. The pump drains your hot tub in about half an hour. 

You’ll still need to mop up any remaining puddles with a wet-dry vacuum or absorbent towels. 

7. Inspect the jets and suction covers and wipe down the interior shell

(Image: © Getty Images)

While your hot tub is emptying, it’s time to inspect the exposed jets and suction covers for any debris, such as leaves or dirt. Rinse any visible debris away. 

It’s also a great idea to thoroughly wipe down your hot tub’s interior shell and clean your filters (we recommend the Oh Yuk Healthy Hot Tub Cleaner at Amazon). Use a soft scrub brush to remove any build-up and stains.

8. Close the drain valve or turn off the pump

(Image: © Getty Images)

Once your hot tub is empty, close the drain valve or turn off the submersible pumps.

Reinstall the drain cap and refill your tub with crystal-clear water. 

How to drain a hot tub: FAQs

How often should you drain your hot tub?

Cruz recommends draining your hot tub around two to four times every year. But how often you decide to do it may also depend on how frequently you use it, how many people tend to use it, and whether you tend to shower before using the hot tub.

It can also depend on the environment. Outside hot tubs are more likely to have dust, dirt, and debris in the water and need cleaning more frequently, whereas inside hot tubs can go a little longer between cleans.

It can depend on water quality, too. If you live in a hard water area, limescale and other contaminants can build up more quickly, so you may need to drain and refresh the water more often than someone living in a soft water area.

Why is it important to drain a hot tub regularly?

Draining your hot tub regularly helps flush out contaminants that build up over time, such as dirt, sweat, oils, and cosmetics. Draining and refilling means you can completely replace the water, which helps to control and prevent the gradual build-up of bacteria, viruses, mold, and algae that occur - no matter how careful you are with sanitization. It also helps preserve and maintain your hot tub’s components for longer, saving you money in the long term and protecting your warranty.  

It also allows you to start afresh with perfectly balanced water chemistry. Using your hot tub for a period of months can change the chemical composition of the water, so your pH and alkaline balances are thrown off course. Draining and refilling help reset the balance, and it gives you the pleasure of crystal-clear water and peace of mind that it’s perfectly hygienic. 

Final thoughts

Properly draining a hot tub regularly maintains water quality and component health. 

Key steps are disconnecting electricity, draining water via the drain valve and garden hose, inspecting jets and interior, and refilling with balanced chemicals. 

Thoroughly draining every 2-4 months means you can continue enjoying crystal clear, hygienic water with no buildup of contaminants, bacteria, or damage to components. 

Following these draining tips preserves your hot tub and saves money over time.

Joanne Lewsley
Customer Advisor, Vacuums, Cleaning and Air Quality

Joanne Lewsley is a UK-based freelance writer and editor, covering health and lifestyle news and features. She creates evidence-based health and parenting content and has worked with some of the world’s best-known brands and websites, including BabyCentre UK and Medical News Today. 

You can read more of Joanne's work and get in touch via her website: https://www.joannelewsley.co.uk/