How To Clean A Hot Tub Without Draining It | The Ultimate Guide

Start by cleaning the areas above the waterline with spa solution, and dry. Add a chlorine mixture according to your manufacturers guide and leave for 24hrs. Clean the filter using a filter solution or simply change depending on how long it has been used.

The hot tub can be a perfect spot to unwind after a long hard day. Its heated water and massage action can help relax your muscles and calm your mind.

However, no one deserves to soak in cloudy, smelly water. As part of my regular home care advice, I’d share how I spend less time cleaning my hot tub and more time relaxing in it.

how to clean a hot tub without draining it

Cleaning a hot tub by draining and scrubbing is effective and should be done every three to four months. I find it frustrating and strenuous every time I do it. Below you will find the best methods I use to clean my hot tub without draining it.

Cleaning The Areas Above The Water Line

You should start by cleaning those parts that aren’t submerged in water, including the headrest and control panels.

Materials needed:

  • Warm water
  • Spa cleaner
  • Clean rag
  • Non-scratch scrubber pad
  • Soft sponge 


  • Mix the spa cleaner with a bucket of warm water
  • Dip the non-scratch scrubber pad into the water solution and use it clean areas above the waterline
  • Use a sponge to wipe off the loosened debris. Rinse the sponge regularly to avoid leaving impurities as you work around the tub.
  • Use a clean rag to dry the areas you cleaned
  • Check for any missed areas and clean


  • Use spa cleaners for a more effective result 
  • Ensure you rinse out the sponge after each foot of cleaning

Water lines result from sweat, spa oils, and lotion accumulation. It should be cleaned every few months to keep the tub clean for longer periods.

Balance And Shock The Water

Another method for cleaning your hot tub is to shock the water. But before you do that, you must test the water quality to ensure that it is balanced.

How To Test Your Water Quality

There are several methods for testing, including using a liquid testing kit. Still, I have found a spa test kit the easiest and most effective way to test your water quality

Materials Needed: 

  • Clean cup or bottle
  • Spa test Strip


  • Collect a water sample from your hot tub (try to get as close to the middle as possible)
  • Put the test strip 15 cm into the water. 
  • Wait for a few minutes as instructed in the manufacturer’s manual
  • Compare the color change with the indicators on your color chart

Test kits react with the temperature, chlorine, and pH levels in your water, so you’ll want to watch it after testing. If the water sample turns orange or red, your water may be too acidic, and you will need to shock and balance the water by adding more chlorine.

How to Shock and Balance Using Chlorine

  • Add chlorine granules to your hot tub in quantities recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Leave it overnight 
  • Test the water again the next morning to ensure the chlorine level is at least 3 ppm. This indicates your hot tub has been properly disinfected and is safe for use. 


  • Don’t allow the test kit to get soaked.
  • Get advice from the manufacturer’s manual or experts on the amount of chlorine required for your hot tub size.
  • Wait for a couple of hours after the chlorine shock before getting back into your tub to avoid skin reactions. 

Clean With Spa Vacuum (Alternative Method)

Vacuuming removes sand, leaves, or other visible dirt from your hot tub without draining it.

Materials Needed:

  • Hand Gloves 
  • Electric spa vacuum or manual vacuum (The process gets easier if you can afford an electric spa vacuum)


  • Assemble your spa vacuum 
  • Place the nozzle end of your vacuum on the tub’s floor and pump several times to remove air that may be trapped in the vacuum.
  • Start suction cleaning by directing the vacuum close to the dirt and debris in the tub.
  • Stroke your way around the entire tub slowly and smoothly
  • Slightly overlap strokes so that no grime remains at the edge of your sweep


  • Do not scrape vacuum or nozzles against your hot tub to avoid damaging the spa’s surface. 

Wash The Jets, Pipes, and Filters

These are often neglected parts responsible for the build-up of dirt in your hot tub.

Materials needed 

  • Vinegar 
  • Toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Water hose

Cleaning the Jets

  • Mix vinegar with water in equal proportions to form a solution
  • Remove the jet from the unit and soak it in the mixture 
  • Leave for at least 3-4 hours 
  • Remove and scrub any stubborn dirt left with a soft-bristled brush

Cleaning the Pipes

  • Simply clean the pipe by scrubbing debris off with a soft brush. 

You can only remove a small amount of dirt accumulated around the pipe openings without draining your hot tub. 

Cleaning The filters

clean filters of the hot tub without draining it

Your filters become clogged over time, thus reducing their efficiency. it is recommended to clean your filters once in two weeks

  • Remove filters from the pipes, and spray them with water using a water hose. 
  • Gently scrub stubborn algae from the filter using a soft brush. 
  • Hose them down again and return them to their original place.

For more thorough cleaning, soak the filter in a filter cleaning solution for a few hours before properly rinsing it and replacing it in the hot tub. And if you observe any damage to the filter, change to a new one.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my Hot Tub?

The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association (BISHTA) recommend draining your hot tubs at least once every three months and replacing them with fresh water. If you own a domestic hot tub, maintain a weekly, simple cleaning schedule. However, if your Hot Tub is frequently used by different groups of people (such as; on-site at a vacation rental), you will need to clean it more often.

Should I keep my hot tub running all the time?

In most cases, Yes! You should keep your hot tub running 24 hours a day. However, if you will be leaving the house for a few weeks, you can consider turning your hot tub off to save money on energy bills. 

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