Blog Header Logo

How to Clean a Hot Tub Without Draining

Draining the hot tub is usually recommended every 3-4 months, to replace with fresh water that contains far fewer dissolved solids, wastes and disinfectant byproducts. Fresh water is easier to filter, sanitize, and is healthier for bathers. However, there are times when draining the hot tub is not appropriate. Like when refill water is limited or unavailable, or when your city or county has water restrictions in place. And if you can't drain the hot tub, how do you clean it? Well, you're in luck! Keep reading to learn how to clean a hot tub without draining it!

Key points include:

Recycle the water

Water balance

Balance the water

clean pool floats

Scrub the hot tub

1. Recycle the Hot Tub Water Into the Pool

This option only works if you also have a swimming pool, or can borrow a neighbor's pool. With a small submersible pump, empty the spa into the pool, and after wiping down the spa interior, and cleaning with our Spa Cleaner chemical, and for a finishing touch, polishing with Fast Gloss spa polish, refill the spa from the pool.

2. Filter the Hot Tub Water Through Your Pool Filter

This option only works if you have access to a pool pump and filter, like an aboveground system that mounts on a skid, with a plug in cord for the pump. Hook up a pool-size filter and pump and you can turnover filter all of the water through a large filter in just a few hours. Rinse, Repeat.

3. Filter the Hot Tub Water with Reverse Osmosis

This one only works in the driest parts of the country, where a new type of service company has sprung up. Mobile water recycling trucks can visit your home and pump out the pool or spa water, run it through the super effective truck mounted filters, and return it to the spa in minutes, perfectly clean and clear.

4. Balance the Hot Tub Water and Shock

This one you probably know all ready - test and balance the pH, Alkalinity and Calcium levels, and then shock the spa with a granular chlorine shock. Read the label for dosage instructions, and then double or triple the amount, if your hot tub water is in really bad shape.

5. Scrub the Spa

Use a soft brush to scrub off any film and dirt, then use a skim net and a spa vacuum to remove the debris. A large hose can also be used as a siphon vacuum, by filling the hose with water, capping one end, and pulling it down to a point lower than the other end.

6. Scrub the Pipes

How do you scrub the pipes, you say? Using a spa purge chemical to dissolve built-up biofilm lining the pipes and jets. A toothbrush can be used around the jet openings, but to clean a spa that has been sitting - it's necessary to remove the bacterial films inside the pipes and equipment. Problem is, after using Jet Clean, you'll need to drain the spa! You may want to do this step earlier....

7. Soak the Jets

Many of the jets in the spa may be removable, and can be soaked in a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water to remove any calcium build-up. Removing the jets also allows you to get deeper into the pipes to clean the small areas.

Essential Products

Spa Chemicals


Spa Parts & Equipment


Spa cleaning accessories


Facebook  Twitter X  YouTube  Instagram
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.