Few things are more relaxing at the end of a long day than soaking in a hot tub and enjoying a targeted massage. But like most good things, it doesn’t come without a little work. Over time, the hot tub water will become dirty and need to be replaced. To keep your hot tub fresh and ready for use, it is important to drain and clean it from time to time. Here’s what you need to know to do it right.

When Should You Drain Your Hot Tub?

Some telltale signs that it is time to drain your hot tub are when the water no longer looks clean and clear or produces unpleasant odors. It’s also a good idea to clean your hot tub if you’ve been using it frequently or if you’ve had many guests over for a soak. Another instance when you should drain your tub is when it’s been a long time since you’ve used it.

How Often Should You Drain Your Hot Tub?

As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to drain and clean your hot tub every 3-6 months. However, the specific timetable for your tub will depend on how often you use it and how many people spend time in it. Take those factors into consideration and adjust your cleaning schedule accordingly.

How to Drain Your Hot Tub

Before you can clean your hot tub, you’ll first need to drain the water.

Flush the Plumbing Lines

Clean & Drain hot tub cleaning product - Great Bay Spa & Sauna

The first step is to add a line flush product, also called a plumbing line cleaner, to the water. This will circulate through your hot tub’s plumbing, removing any buildup of biofilm and bacteria as it goes. Let the line cleaner soak for a few hours to get the best results. Don’t worry about any foam that appears in the tub as the line flush does its work, as you’ll be cleaning it in later steps.

Drain with the Drain Plug

The most cost-effective way to drain your tub is to attach a hose to the tub’s built-in drain plug. Gravity will force the water out through the hose, and you’ll be able to move the hose around as needed to direct where the water empties. But first, be sure to flip the tub’s electrical breaker to prevent any accidents. Emptying a hot tub in this manner generally takes a few hours, depending on the size of the tub.

Drain with a Submersible Pump

To get the job done faster, you also have the option of using a submersible pump. They can be purchased separately or as part of the tub. With this method, your tub will be empty in minutes as opposed to hours. Keep a close watch on the water level though. Running a submersible pump without water can burn out its motor.

Water Disposal

In most cases, you can dispose of the water in any drain inside or outside your home that connects to the sewer system, as well as, permeable surfaces such as your lawn or garden. It may also be a good idea to check your local regulations on draining hot tubs to verify where you can and can’t dump your hot tub water. 

How to Clean Your Hot Tub

Once the hot tub is empty, you can begin the process of cleaning it.

Clean or Replace the Filter

It is a good idea to rinse out your filter and remove any large debris every month or so to prevent buildup and prolong the life of your filter. However, when your tub is empty, you’ll have the chance to give it a deeper cleaning. Soak the filter in cartridge cleaner according to the package directions, ideally overnight. Rinse it out, and let it dry fully before reinstalling it. For a more detailed look at cleaning hot tub filters, check out our handy filter cleaning guide.

If you notice any tears, holes, or other damage to the filter pads, don’t waste your time cleaning the filter. Damage to the filter will greatly diminish its ability to do its job, so you are better off replacing the filter instead.

Clean the Shell

Next, you’ll clean the interior of the tub. We recommend using our Gel Gloss® aerosol for the most effective cleaning. When scrubbing the inside of your hot tub, don’t neglect any corners or crevices where algae and bacteria can accumulate. After scrubbing, rinse everything thoroughly and drain the water in the same manner as you did before to avoid contaminating the fresh water you plan to refill the tub with. 

How to Refill the Tub

  1. Using your garden hose, fill the spa to just above the top jets, or halfway up the skimmer.
    1. We recommend using a pre-filter when filling the tub. Just attach it to the end of your hose and fill your tub with clean, filtered water!
  2. Turn the breaker on; the spa will automatically start heating. We suggest setting the temperature at 100°F to start.
  3. Place the filter in the correct location/compartment.
  4. Allow the spa to continue to heat. Once the water is above 80 degrees, it is time to start adjusting the chemicals.
  5. Test your water with a test strip. Using dry hands, remove one strip from the bottle, dip it into the spa water and remove immediately. Hold the strip flat and compare the colors with the results chart on the bottle. We recommend a pH of 7.2 to 7.4. Look for an indicator pad color of orange without any traces of red or pink.
    1. When adjusting pH and/or Alkalinity, DO NOT run the jets.
  6. Make Adjustments as Follows:
    1. Always adjust low alkalinity before making adjustments to pH. If the alkalinity is low, add Alka-Rise, using the chart on the back of the bottle to determine the correct amount. If the alkalinity is high, adjust according to step 6.2.
    2. With a new test strip, repeat the same process to measure pH. If the pH is low add pH Plus, using the chart on the back of the bottle to determine the correct amount. If the pH is high add pH Minus, using the chart on the back of the bottle to determine the correct amount.
    3. Add one small capful (1oz.) of Chlor-Aid, then use a new test strip to test the free chlorine level. Add as needed until you reach 3-5 ppm. Please note that spa chlorine is designed to burn off after 12-24 hours if the proper 3-5 ppm range is reached. This ensures that you are able to get into a clean and sanitized spa without sitting in over-chlorinated water. It is important to chlorinate your spa after every use, and at least twice a week if you aren’t using the spa regularly.

Stock Up on Hot Tub Cleaning Products

Overall, cleaning your hot tub is not as difficult as you might originally think. If you have any questions or need to replenish your stock of tub cleaning supplies, the experts here at Great Bay Spa & Sauna are always more than happy to help. Stop by any time to see our selection and get expert advice and guidance on using our products to care for your hot tub.