11 Hot Tub Maintenance Tips to Maximize Relaxation Time

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated February 16, 2022
Mother and son in hot tub
Photo: Cavan Images / Getty Images

Keep your hot tub bubbling year-round

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The hot tub is your oasis; a special place just steps from your door where you can dissolve all of life’s troubles and anxieties in a bubbling pool of hot water. 

When you’re itching for the kind of relaxation only this beautiful appliance can provide, you don’t want to be messing around with the water chemistry, fishing out debris, or frantically searching for a hot tub pro in your area. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of regular maintenance by following these hot tub tips. 

1. Good Filter Care Is Essential

When spa time arrives, you don’t want to think about anything but heating up and chilling out. That’s why the hot tub filter is one of the essential tools for keeping your hot tub clean and smoothly functioning. 

But it can’t do its job without a little help. 

  • Every two weeks, you should remove the filters to visually inspect them for any damage and to remove any large debris that has been caught inside.

  • Once a month, you should clean them. Hose them down and then spray with filter cleaner—or you can soak them overnight in a bucket filled with water and cleaner solution.

  • If your monthly cleaning only involves hosing the filters down, make sure to perform a deep cleaning every two to three months with an overnight soak.

2. Keep Extra Water Care Supplies on Hand

It’s a major bummer to prepare yourself for a hot soak only to discover you’ve run out of essential spa chemicals. Keep extra supplies on hand—and store them somewhere warm and out of the reach of children and pets—so that you’re not running errands when you should be relaxing.

3. Keep a Regular Maintenance Schedule

To maintain proper performance, your hot tub needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly—not just during periods of frequent use. When it’s cold and wet, the hot tub is probably the last thing on your mind, so set a calendar reminder and keep a regular maintenance schedule so you don’t forget.

4. Keep an Even Water Level

A hot tub that’s too full or too empty can quickly lead to all kinds of damage, overtaxing the pump and other components. 

Follow these hot tub tips to keep an even water level at all times: 

  • Fill the tub to just above the skimmer line to account for evaporation. 

  • In the cold months, keep a hose nearby so you can easily top it off when the level starts to dip—since the water evaporates more quickly in cool, dry air.  

5. Choose the Right Cover (or Two) and Keep It in Good Shape

Hot tub with cover
Photo: iStock / Getty Images

Covering your hot tub when it’s not in use is essential for keeping out debris and pests, maintaining water level and temperature, and boosting the performance of bromine sanitizer. 

Use these tips to select the right cover for your hot tub: 

  • Make sure you select the right size—measure the length, width, and skirt length (the exterior depth), as well as the corner radius, using a framing square. 

  • For extra protection (and extra savings on heat and chemicals), opt for both a floating cover and an external, hardtop cover. 

For the cover to do its job, you need to stay on top of maintenance. The cover lives its life in a moist, hot, and dark environment, which is ideal for the growth of bacteria and mold. 

Clean it every 90 days using a spray bottle with a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. Do so in broad daylight, so you can also take the opportunity to inspect it for any tears, warping, or leakage.

6. Drain and Deep Clean on a Regular Schedule

To maintain your hot tub’s performance and hygiene, you must regularly drain the water and clean the surfaces. Over time, the water collects contaminants like body fluids, hair and skincare products, and cosmetics, which build up in the water, on the surface of the tub, and in the plumbing. 

To banish them, drain the water, clean or replace the filter, and clean the shell with a special hot tub product, a non-abrasive commercial cleaner, or an at-home solution like vinegar. 

If you’re a real hot tub fiend and use it frequently, perform the chore every six weeks—less regular users can do it every three to four months. It’s also the right move when you’re struggling to get the chemistry balance right—rather than continuing to add new products, just drain the whole thing and start from scratch. 

7. Save Money With off-Peak Heating

Heating represents the largest ongoing cost of hot tub ownership. You can cut down on those expenses by running the heater during off-peak hours and paying a lower rate. Just check in with your utility provider to find the right window of time in your area.  

8. Close Air Control Valves When Not in Use

When in operation, the hot tub’s air control valves release heat from the water. Make sure they’re closed whenever you’re not taking a soak, to avoid wasting heat and racking up your energy bill. 

9. Help Your Filter With Tennis Balls and Pantyhose

Hot tip: The tennis court and the dog park aren’t the only places you can use those fuzzy neon balls. They can also serve as the perfect complement to your hot tub’s filtration system. Place a few clean tennis balls into the tub and skimmer and let the soft felt soak up filmy contaminants before they reach the filter—and change them regularly. 

Likewise, pantyhose are as perfect an accessory for your hot tub as they are for an elegant evening on the town. When it’s time to change your filters, use pantyhose to cover the lower return inlets and screen out any dirt and debris from entering inside and then recirculating in the tub.

10. Enzymes Are on Your Side

There are a variety of hot tub treatment enzyme products on the market, which mobilize these handy proteins to break down organic material that accumulates in the water. Use them to prevent your tub from developing the dreaded scum line and to get the most out of your filter and sanitizer.   

11. Know When to Winterize

Couple in hot tub
Photo: Corbis / Getty Images

If you use your hot tub year-round—or if you don’t mind keeping on top of maintenance even during periods of infrequent usage—there is no need to winterize. 

But if the tub will be sitting untended in a summer house for months at a time, or you’d simply like to avoid the extra chores during the cold months, make sure the water is totally drained from the basin, pipes, and jets before you close up shop for the season.

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