How to Clean & Prepare a Hot Tub

Clean a hot tub before its first seasonal use.
Clean a hot tub before its first seasonal use. (Image: jacuzzi al polo image by paologo from

Few things are more soothing than a soak in a sparkling clean hot tub after a long day’s work. It’s important to maintain hot tubs and keep them clean to avoid the growth of bacteria. Dirty hot tub water not only causes skin irritations that may require antibiotic creams to clear up, but you can also carry the bacteria into your lungs when you breathe in the steam. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to clean and prepare a hot tub for safe and pleasant soaking.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Spa filter cleaner
  • Hose
  • Enzymatic cleanser
  • Bathroom cleanser
  • Sponge
  • Vinyl Protector (optional)
  • Wet/dry vacuum cleaner
  • User’s manual
  • Bromine or Chlorine hot tub sanitizer
  • Test strips
  • Alkaline or acidic additives

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How to Clean a Hot Tub

Clean out your hot tub’s filter at least once a month. Each filter is different; read the user’s manual for your particular model. Usually, you remove the filter, fill a bucket with water, and let the filter soak according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Rinse the filter with clear water from your hose, and replace it in the hot tub.

Clean your hot tub’s vinyl cover whenever you clean the filter or at least once a month. Use a vinyl cleanser purchased from your hot tub dealer, and only clean the outside of the cover. Wash the inside with clear water from your hose so that the vinyl cleanser does not contaminate the spa water.

Wash the acrylic shell that is visible above the water line once a week or so. Use whichever enzymatic cleanser your hot tub manufacturer recommends. Do not use dish soap or bleach because it can change the water’s pH levels.

Drain your hot tub of all water every three months. Contaminated water can cause rashes and even lung irritation, and while spa chemicals help control bacteria, replacing the water often is the best way to stay safe.

Clean the empty shell thoroughly with bathroom cleanser and a regular sponge. Do not use a cleanser or applicator that is abrasive so you don’t scratch the acrylic.

How to Prepare a Hot Tub

Remove the spa cover or tarp, and clean them thoroughly. If placing the lid on the hot tub when it is not in use, clean it with an enzymatic cleanser. For tarps or covers stored away from the hot tub, use a non-abrasive bathroom cleanser or vinyl cleaner.

Take out any plugs that are blocking the jet holes. Use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up any dirt, dust or bugs that have taken up residence while the hot tub was not in use.

Wash the empty hot tub thoroughly, either with the cleanser recommended by the manufacturer or dealer, or with a non-abrasive bathroom cleanser. Rinse it thoroughly with a hose.

Check that all plugs valves and connectors are hooked up properly. Pay special attention to the air blower, drain plug, filter container, plumbing pipes, spa pump, valves and any other connections or working parts you can see. Open the slice valves so that the water circulation is not compromised. Use your manual to guide you through this process.

Remove the spa filters, and place your hose in the filter well to fill the hot tub with water, which fills the hot tub pipes at the same time as it fills the tub.

Add whichever hot tub sanitizer your manufacturer or dealer recommends once the hot tub is full. These are usually bromine or chlorine formulas.

Run the hot tub for at least two hours to let the sanitizer get into the pipes and give them a thorough cleaning.

Drain your hot tub and refill it.

Use test strips to analyze your water and balance it according to the results. Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations because every hot tub is different, and how you adjust the water depends on what kind of sanitizer you use. Don’t guess, or you could end up with unsanitary—or at the least, uncomfortably acidic or alkaline—water.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apply vinyl protector to the outside of the hot tub's vinyl cover every time you wash it to keep it fresh and supple.
  • Never let your hot tub go more than three months without a thorough cleaning.


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