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How to Clean a Hot Tub

By Bob Lee

Nothing beats relaxing with a bubbly soak in a hot tub. It’s your sanctuary. The place where you go to relax and get away from it all. Slime, dirty water and gunk buildup can make it hard to relax and can lead to your hot tub not functioning properly. If you stay on top of it, cleaning your hot tub can be less of a chore than you might think.

Draining your Tub

  1. Flush the lines
  2. Turn of power to your hot tub
  3. Drain the water in your tub

Hot tubs run at a temperature that makes them an even bigger breeding ground than pools for bacteria and all kinds of other gunk. If you replace all the water without flushing the lines first, you risk contaminating the new water. You can keep your tub cleanest by regularly running special cleaner through its lines, a process called "flushing the lines," to eject and cleanse bacteria and gunk.

Lines that have build up can result in decreased jet pressure, cloudiness in the water, or increased pressure (and strain) on your pump motor. Flushing your lines will help your tub run smoothly and efficiently.

Available online and at local pool supply stores, line flushes are designed to (you guessed it) flush the gunk from the hot tub’s plumbing. Different products work somewhat differently, but generally speaking, line flushes are added, in a specified amount, to a hot tub in operation. Be prepared for a surprising amount of gunk to come out! Adding line flush consistently will minimize accumulation.

Not only is it dangerous to work with this amount of water while connected to a power source, it is also bad for your hot tub if the system powers on while its empty.

To be completely sure there’s no power going to your tub, your best bet is to head to the fuse box and flip the breaker for the circuit to “off”.

Check your hot tub manufacturer’s directions for specific directions on draining the water from your tub. Depending on your tub, it may use a built-in sump pump or a drain plug to remove the water.

Submersible pumps can usually be rented from your local pool supply store if you’d like to speed up the process.

If flushing your lines has released a cloudy discharge into the water, you may have to completely empty your hot tub of water. After doing so, you should rinse your tub to remove any remaining line particles. Then you can fill the foot-well of your tub, if necessary.

Cleaning your tub

  1. Apply a hot tub cleaner to the surface of your tub
  2. Remove and thoroughly clean your filter(s)
  3. Reinstall your filters

With the hot tub empty, Spray your hot tub shell with hot tub cleaner , diluted white vinegar , or diluted bleach . Pay special attention to nooks and crannies where mildew, algae, or bacteria could be hiding.

DO NOT use any cleaning products containing abrasives since these could dull the brilliant surface. Products like Bon-Ami, Comet, Ajax, or Lysol are NOT recommended. Harsh chemicals should never be used on acrylic surfaces.

Use a soft cloth or non-scratch nylon scrubber to remove residue.

Clean your hot tub cover with the same solution, spray it down, rinse it off and wipe down with a towel.

Rinse all surfaces well, and drain all the rinse water to prevent foaming when you refill your spa.

Double check that all your jets are open after you’ve finished cleaning and rinsing. This reduces the risk of water pressure problems from trapped air.

Because mineral particles or calcification from hard water can clog any water filtration system, we recommend following these light cleaning tips each month to keep your spa’s water flowing properly.

Before removing the filter(s), snap a picture of the way they’re installed. It will make reinstalling them that much easier.

If your filters are relatively new, simply spray them down with a garden hose, go over them with hot tub cleaner, and rinse.

If your filters look particularly dirty, but you don’t think it’s been long enough to need to replace them, you can try soaking them in a vinegar and water solution overnight and then rinse clean.

Your filters should be replaced about once a year, so if it has been that long or if your filters seem to be really gunked up, go ahead and toss them out and replace them with fresh ones.

Following the photo you took before removing the filter(s), slide them back in place and close the cover panel. Make sure that you’ve replaced all of the parts and fasteners.

Refilling your hot tub

  1. Add water to the designated line for your tub
  2. Return power to your hot tub
  3. Treat the water with the chemicals recommended for your tub

Using your garden hose, allow the tub to refill. Some hot tub models even have a filter well where they recommend placing the hose to fill it up. This is to remove any residue or contaminants that are already in your water.

If you have turned the circuit breaker for your hot tub off, you'll need to set this to "ON" before reactivating your tub. Allow your hot tub to run a few minutes while you listen to the pump/filter for any odd noises. These can be indicators that you've improperly reinstalled the filter or haven't fastened the catches holding it in place properly.

Once filled, turn on the hot tub and add the chemicals (e.g., shock) that comprise your regular water treatment program. Finally, cover your clean hot tub and allow time for the water to balance for time designated on the treatment instructions.

After the recommended time has elapsed and the water has heated up to at least 80°F (27°C), but no higher than 104°F (40°C), retest the water.

Ideally, there would be between 1ppm and 3ppm of free chlorine (or bromine, depending on your choice). Meanwhile, the pH should be in the range of 7.2 to 7.8. Check your user manual for specifics. Add chemicals as needed to adjust.

Maintaining your hot tub

  1. Keep the chemistry balanced
  2. Keep the cover on
  3. Clean the hot tub filter once every month
  4. Clean the hot tub shell every three months
  5. Clean the hot tub cover monthly

Check your chemistry levels once or twice a week. Test kits and strips are readily available online or at a local pool supply store.

Unbalanced levels can be harmful to both the hot tub plumbing and the water you're soaking in.

Your hot tub cover keeps debris and contaminants out of the water and helps reduce evaporation.

A good rinse with your garden hose every 4-6 weeks will help keep your filter clean and help it last longer. You should replace them once a year.

While it may not look dirty. Wiping down the shell of your hot tub regularly will prevent buildup before it becomes thick and difficult to remove.

SInce the outside of the tub is most exposed to the elements, it’s going to collect debris, dirt, tree sap - you name it. Wiping it down monthly will help it last longer. A vinyl protectant can keep it from cracking and makes it easier to clean.

The underside of the cover can be cleaned by taking it off the hot tub and rinsing it with a hose.

By following these steps, you should only have to do a full drain and clean a couple of times each year. Check your manufacturer’s recommendation to be certain. In the meantime, enjoy that bubbly sanctuary!

Tags: Hot Tub

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