How to winterize a hot tub: 7 steps with expert guidance

how to winterize hot tub
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to shut down your hot tub over winter, it’s important to do it in a way that won’t damage the machinery or hardware of your tub. 

Tools & requirements

- Hot tub cleaner

- Hot tub antifreeze

- Screwdriver 

- Garden hose 

- Towels

While the best hot tubs are designed to be used year-round, you may prefer to winterize your hot tub to save on energy costs. If you’re particularly fortunate, your hot tub may be at your summer residence, or maybe you just can’t face the idea of sitting out in the snow in your swimsuit. Whatever the reason, if you plan on switching off the tub for the season, we’ve got all the guidance on winterizing your hot tub right here.

Our step-by-step guide will walk you through the steps of winterizing your hot tub, from draining and disconnecting it to using antifreeze to protect pumps, jets, and pipes.

How to winterize a hot tub: Quick steps

  1. Shut off the power
  2. Drain the hot tub
  3. Make sure the tub is thoroughly dry 
  4. Remove and clean the filter 
  5. Clean surfaces and clear debris 
  6. Add antifreeze
  7. Secure the hot tub cover

How to winterize a hot tub: Step by step guide

1. Shut off the power

(Image: © Getty Images)

The first step is to locate your hot tub’s power cord and main supply outlet. Remove the plug from the outlet and neatly coil up the cord to prevent trip hazards. Store the cord in your hot tub’s side compartment if available. Otherwise, place it inside a sealable plastic bag until you are ready to reinstall it later. 

2. Drain the hot tub

(Image: © Getty Images)

Next, find the drain valve, usually on the hot tub's side. Attach one end to the drain spout using a garden hose and direct the other into a drain or gutter. Open up the drain valve and allow all water to empty from the hot tub. Be patient - this can take around 30 minutes or longer if you have a large hot tub. David Cruz, plumbing expert for MyJobQuote, recommends using a submersible pump to help speed up the process.

Once your hot tub is fully drained, dry the inside of the tub using towels. Close the access panel to the drain valve and replace any screws you removed. 

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. 

3. Make sure your hot tub is thoroughly dry

(Image: © Craftsman)

Even after draining, there will be some water in components such as pump housings, piping loops, jet assemblies, and any low points within the hot tub. Tip all the housings to drain fully, as it’s important to get these as bone-dry as possible.

We recommend using a specialist vacuum to remove every last drop of moisture, such as the Craftsman CMXEVBE17590. Stick the suction end into every jet, pipe opening, and drain plug you can find so no water gets left behind to freeze over the winter. Unscrew any pump drain plugs and circular pump intake/outlet caps to ensure no moisture is trapped inside pump housings where it can freeze solid and cause damage. 

4. Remove and clean the filter

(Image: © Getty Images)

Once the tub is fully drained, locate and remove the filter cartridge assembly. Take it out and thoroughly rinse it using a hose or faucet to wash away any built-up debris, limescale, or calcium deposits. 

Allow the filter to air dry completely before storing it in a safe, dry location until spring reopening. Properly cleaning and storing the filter prevents further mineral buildup while your hot tub is dormant. Cruz recommends storing it in a warm place, along with any remote controls, over the winter months. 

5. Clean surfaces and clear debris

(Image: © Getty Images)

Do a quick check for any debris like leaves, dirt, or grime that may have collected in the empty hot tub basin or pumps. Give these a quick vacuum or wipe down to clean and prevent insects or rodents from being attracted to the mess while the hot tub is winterized.

Take the opportunity of easy access to an empty hot tub to give the shell, seats, steps, and other interior surfaces a deep cleaning. Spray down with a hot tub surface cleaner (we recommend the Oh Yuk Healthy Hot Tub Cleaner) and use a soft scrub brush to remove any build-up and stains while it's vacant. You’ll be thankful you did this when it’s time for the spring reopening!

6. Add antifreeze

(Image: © Getty Images)

To make sure that any residual water or moisture doesn't freeze over winter, add hot tub antifreeze to your filter cavity, jets, pipes, and pumps (this SPLASH Antifreeze should do the trick). This will prevent liquid from freezing and thawing over winter, which can damage vital components as well as the shell of your hot tub.

Using a specialist hot tub antifreeze is safer for your tub and can be more easily flushed out during the spring reopening process. Always follow manufacturer guidelines and safety precautions throughout the process.

7. Secure your hot tub cover

(Image: © Getty Images)

Check the hot tub cover is extra secure to ensure no moisture, animals, or debris gets in over the colder months and to protect it from harsh, wintry conditions. 

How to winterize a hot tub: FAQs

How do I prepare my hot tub for use in spring after winterizing it?

To safely reopen your hot tub in spring after winterizing, start by inspecting all equipment for potential issues like leaks or rodent damage. Check the shell, seats, cover, filter, and paneling for any deterioration from winter elements. Reinstall the filter or replace the old filter with a new one. 

If you use antifreeze, you’ll need to flush this out of your hot tub before you use it. Drain out the antifreeze and then flush the system with clean water. Power on the jets and run them for a few minutes to help flush out antifreeze from the jet lines. Drain the tub again to remove residual antifreeze. If you need to, repeat the process until you’re happy every last drop of antifreeze has been removed. Make sure you also inspect the filter and clean it if you see any antifreeze build-up.

Next, attach garden hoses to refill the tub with fresh water, filling it halfway initially. Power on the pumps briefly to check jets, pipes, and pumps for proper circulation. Top up the water to the full line with the jets on. Test and adjust mineral and chemical levels, such as pH and chlorine, to the right levels. You may also want to consider shock-dosing sanitizer to remove any bacteria. 

Now, your hot tub is ready for a long-awaited spring soak.

Do I need to winterize my hot tub?

“The best way to maintain a hot tub over the winter is to keep it in use,” says Cruz. “Draining the hot tub at this time of year means that any water remaining in the pipes may freeze, cracking the pipes. This will cause leaks when you refill the hot tub in the spring.”

“However, if you know you’re not going to use it in the colder months or you’re going to be away for extended periods, then it may be better for you to winterize it for the colder months.”

There’s another reason why winterizing your hot tub makes sense: if you’re planning on cleaning it soon anyway. Cleaning your hot tub can be a long process - you can check out our guide on how to clean a hot tub if you’re not familiar. We recommend that you do a deep clean on your hot tub on a seasonal basis, so if you’re planning on cleaning your hot tub before you leave it dormant for the winter, then you may as well winterize it as you go.  

Final thoughts

Properly winterizing a hot tub prevents damage to components when shutting it down for cold weather. 

Key steps are disconnecting electricity, draining all water using a hose, ensuring a bone-dry interior, removing and cleaning the filter, vacuuming debris, and adding antifreeze to protect residual moisture from freezing. Thoroughly flushing out antifreeze before reopening next spring is crucial. 

Following these winterization tips means you can reopen your hot tub in spring with no problems or damage to deal with.

Joanne Lewsley
TTR Customer Advisor, Vacuums

Joanne Lewsley is a reputable freelance writer specializing in evidence-based health and lifestyle content. With a background in journalism and extensive experience working for known brands, Joanne rigorously tests and evaluates home gadgets. Her passion for writing is complemented by her love for the outdoors and live music.