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How to Clean a Used Hot Tub

So you just moved into a house. Your spouse says “let’s get a hot tub”. You just paid all this money for closing costs, commissions, transfer fees and taxes and you say it’s not in the budget. After some coercing you agree to consider a used hot tub. You searched Craigslist and the other websites to find that great deal. What could be more relaxing after a long day’s work than soaking in a clean hot tub?

Having a hot tub with dirty water will not only cause skin irritations, but you can also carry the bacteria into your lungs when you breathe in the steam. Luckily, we can teach you how to clean a hot tub easily get you ready for happy hot tubing.

What do we need to bring to this cleaning party?

Here is what you will need to clean your used hot tub:

Hot Tub Filter

Now, I would take the hot tub filters out, examine them for any rips or tears and replace if needed. Clean your filter cartridges using Leslie's Cartridge Cleaner and Degreaser along with hose and Filter Flosser Cleaning Tool.

Spa Cover

When learning how to clean a hot tub, some spa owners overlook this step. Look over your spa cover for any rips or tears and repair as needed. If a hot tub cover is not in good condition or if it is waterlogged, it should be replaced. If the cover is waterlogged, it is likely to have mold, mildew and bacteria in it. Using a sponge along with Natural Chemistry Clean & Perfect, clean your spa cover and then hose off and let dry. I would recommend a vinyl protector application to prevent fading to your cover.

Hot Tub

Ok, the filters are clean, the cover is cleaned and protected. So how do we get the hot tub ready? First we need to decontaminate the hot tub and plumbing system. We are going to superchlorinate the spa water to at least 100 ppm using a dichlor chlorine (Leslie’s Chlor Brite). You are going to dissolve the chlorine in a bucket of water. By dissolving the chlorine you will prevent possible damage to your hot tub’s acrylic surface from direct contact of the chlorine. Next, raise the water level in the hot tub to about 1 inch above the normal water line. Circulate the hot tub water at high speed for about 30 minutes with the spa cover closed. Turn the jets up to maximum. Turn on the air injector switch on and off for 5 minute intervals to help disinfect air lines.


Now we need to clean the hot tub plumbing. Natural Chemistry Spa Purge attacks the root cause of most spa maintenance problems, the build-up of non-living organic waste contamination! Non-living organic contaminants such as: oils, lotions, cosmetics, hair products and sweat build-up in spa water can cause waterline rings, cloudiness, clogged filters, unpleasant odors and foaming. These non-living contaminants collect and build-up in your spa, circulation system, and filter. By purging the spa of this non-living organic build-up, the symptoms of contamination will be reduced or eliminated. Now it is ok to drain the water.

Chemical Levels

At this point you can reinstall the cartridge filter. Refill the hot tub with fresh water. You will want to check the water chemistry, in particular, paying attention to pH and total alkalinity. You can use the Leslie’s 5-Way Test Strips to test your spa chemistry. This is an important step when you're learning how to clean a hot tub. For a complete water analysis, just bring a water sample to your local Leslie's store for a free water test and treatment plan. Our AccuBlue® water test looks at 10 different aspects of water chemistry, and provides detailed instructions to get your spa water perfectly balanced.

Shock Your Hot Tub

Lastly, you will shock the refilled hot tub with Leslie’s Chlor Brite in a bucket of water. Let the hot tub circulate for 8-12 hours with the hot tub cover down to prevent chlorine loss due to the sun. Circulate the pool at night if you do not have a cover. Using test strips (Leslie’s 5-Way Test Strips) check the free chlorine levels. If you get a residual free chlorine reading on our test strips then the process was successful. If no free chlorine is present, repeat the procedure. Now that this is all done, add the sanitizer system of your choice.

Now that you know how to clean a hot tub, jump in, relax and enjoy it! If you're looking for more information on keeping your hot tub clean, we've written a quick reference guide

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Leslie’s makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and Leslie’s assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Leslie’s assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.