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Think of your spa as a large bath tub. Bath tubs need to be drained and we know why: chemical build-up, body oils, and just general “funk” can accumulate in your hot tub water.

Keeping water in your hot tub longer than 3-4 months, regardless of how clear it looks and what the specialty products you add, exposes you to unhealthy and unnecessary amounts of harmful chemicals.

How to Drain Your Hot Tub and Clean Your Spa

1. Add a Line Flush Product To The Hot Tub Water
The line flush product is added to the old water circulated for a least 20 minutes and up to 4 hours depending on the product direction. NOTE: It’s not uncommon to develop a 4″ thick layer of brown/black foam covering the surface of the water as the long established bacteria pull away from the plumbing lines.

2. Remove The Filters and Turn Off The Power to Your Hot Tub

First, remove the filter(s) from the filter well. You can start cleaning the filters while the hot tub is draining.

Disconnect ANYTHING electrical running to your hot tub before you begin. You don’t want the hot tub turning on when there’s no water in it. That would be bad for the pumps and heater in your tub. Make sure the breaker is tripped and the power is disconnected.

NOTE: If you’re not comfortable with the electrical systems of your hot tub, or even a little unsure, please call a licensed electrician or hot tub technician to help.

3. Start Draining The Hot Tub

Use a sump pump or the drain plug on your hot tub, and drain the hot tub leaving only the foot well full of water.  I highly recommend using a sump pump because it will be much faster than draining with just the drain plug.

4. Cleaning Your Hot Tub Once It’s Drained

Once the water is removed from the hot tub you can wipe the interior surface with four parts water to one part white vinegar to clean the surfaces. Spray down the inside of your hot tub and wipe it clean. 

5. Refill Your Hot Tub with Fresh Water

Now that the old water has been removed and your hot tub shell is clean, it is time to refill it with fresh water. To do that, I recommend a hose filter that fits on the end of your garden hose.

These filters remove impurities such as copper, iron, and calcium that could be present in your tap water. They also cause hard water and damage your hot tub. There are ways to reduce these impurities after it’s been filled, but it’s easier to remove them you refill your hot tub.

Attach your hose filter to the end of your garden hose.
Check all the drains on the hot tub to be sure they are closed.
Double check that there is still no power to the hot tub.
Turn on your hose and fill your hot tub to the optimal level as set by your hot tub manufacturer.
Restore power to your hot tub and turn it on allowing the jets to run. If you need to prime your hot tub, do so now.

6. Start Your Hot Tub and Add Chemicals

Maintaining high water quality is key to prevent biofilm. There are enzyme based products, such as the one below, that’ll do the trick. Simply add the enzyme to your water monthly. This will break down the oils and other contaminants that allow biofilms to grow.

Test your water and adjust your pH levels to between 7.4 and 7.6, your Total Alkalinity (TA) levels to 80 ppm and your Calcium Hardness (CH) to 100 ppm.
Shock your fresh hot tub water while the hot tub is running and allow it to continue to circulate .
Adjust your temperature, if necessary, to between 100 degrees and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Replace your cover and allow the spa to run for 24 hours to heat properly.
After a day has passed, run the clean cycle on your hot tub and then check your levels again.

If you perform this maintenance task on your hot tub right before the weather turns cold and again early in the spring then you will minimize your workload while protecting your health at the same time.

Congratulations! You Drained and Cleaned Your Hot Tub Properly

Who doesn’t want clean and safe water in their hot tub? Draining and cleaning your hot tub every 3-4 months is the key.

Also, get your limescale buildup and biofilm growth under control before it becomes a major problem. Allowing these to grow can lead to poor hot tub function and bad water quality.

Happy Soaking!