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The Basics of Spa Maintenance - Keeping Your Hot Tub Clean

While maintaining a hot tub can be a lot of work, the enjoyment and relaxation that comes from owning a spa makes it all worth it. That being said, there are some tips to hot tub care that can help take the stress out of the cleaning and maintenance.

How do I take care of my hot tub?

The basic elements involved in keeping a clean hot tub involve circulation, filtration, testing, water chemistry & balance, cleaning, draining & refilling.

Let's break down the basics:

Circulation & Filtration

Good spa water circulation is essential to keeping your spa clean. Be sure to run your spa’s circulation system every day to ensure good working order.

Poor filtration can contribute to many spa issues. When the filter is clogged or dirty it will cause debris and contaminants stay in the water. Maintaining a clean filter includes regularly spraying off loose debris as well as using a chemical filter cleaner to remove oils and other contaminants embedded into the filter.

You should check your filter weekly and clean with a hose when needed. Chemically clean your filter monthly with a filter cleaner. Replace your filter annually.

Testing and Balancing Water Chemistry

The water chemistry of your spa water needs to be checked & balanced regularly. The primary components that affect spa water quality are sanitizer residual and pH. When both are within recommended ranges, your spa water is clear and comfortable, your sanitizers and shock work efficiently, and spa surfaces and equipment are protected. 

Use test strips or a test kit to check the sanitizer residuals, pH, total alkalinity, & calcium hardness. Maintaining proper water balance will keep the water clear and comfortable, kill bacteria, and protect spa surfaces and equipment. Professional water sample testing and analysis available at if you need assistance testing and balancing your hot tub.

Clean the hot tub waterline 

Contaminants such as dirt, oil, scum, and bacteria can accumulate on surface and along the waterline. Regular cleaning preserves spa surfaces and prevents unwanted build-up. Do not use household cleaners on your hot tub. There are cleaners specifically designed for hot tubs that won’t damage the surfaces or alter the water balance.

Draining and Refilling

Shocking and sanitation alone cannot keep your spa water clean forever, and a deeper cleaning is necessary from time to time. Over time, the water absorbs and dissolves minerals, chemicals, and other materials. It’s important to drain the water from the spa, thoroughly clean all surfaces, and refill with fresh water to give your spa a fresh start. It is recommended to drain and refill every 3 months.

When draining your hot tub, be sure to turn the power to the hot tub OFF before draining. You can drain through a drain hose or use a pump to remove the water quickly. If necessary, you can use a shop vac to help remove any remaining water from the bottom of the spa.

Once all the water is removed, use a cloth and a spa surface cleaner to wipe down all the surfaces, especially the waterline where buildup can be common. Clean or replace the filter. Wipe down the hot tub cover. Rinse off any residue from the cleaning chemicals. 

Once your hot tub is all sparkling clean, you can get ready to fill the hot tub back up. Ensure that power to the hot tub is still off, close the drains, and start filling up the hot tub. For best results, we recommend using a hose filter to ensure the cleanest water possible. Once the water has been refilled, turn the hot tub back on. Make sure the water is properly balanced and add your sanitizer.

Recommended hot tub cleaning chemicals

Be sure that you aren't using regular household cleaners or chemicals on your hot tub and filter. These chemicals can damage spa surfaces or alter the water balance. If you need to use a cleaner, be sure you are using one designed specifically for use in hot tubs and follow the label directions to ensure you are using it safely.

Here are some cleaning chemicals we recommend for use on your hot tub and filter:

SpaGuard Filter Cleaner
SpaGuard Filter Cleaner is a powerful and versatile cleaning chemical, allowing either a quick spray cleaning or deep cleaning soak of your filter. This product is designed to break apart the scale buildup, oily residue, and dirt from your spa filter leaving it clean and ready to keep your hot tub pristine.

BioGuard Kleen It Filter Cleaner - Soak or Spray
The great thing about this hot tub cleaner is that you can use it either as a spray or you can soak the filter in it to really strip away dirt and oil. This cleaner has a very low pH and is particularly effective at removing dirt, oil, grease, and even metals and scale from your hot tub filter. This filter cleaner is also excellent because it does not leave any residue behind that could impact the chemical balance in your spa water.

It can either be sprayed onto the hot tub filter or used for soaking for an extra deep clean. If your hot tub filter is particularly dirty, then you might need to soak it - you should follow the recommendations on the label, but for a quick reference, you can fill a 5 gallon bucket with warm water, add one bottle filter cleaner and soak your filter in it overnight. When you drain the water, your filter should be (and look) much cleaner. Rinse the filter thoroughly in clean water and you should be ready to put it back to work.

Pro tip: keep and extra hot tub filter on hand, that way when 1 filter is soaking, you can simply swap the clean filter in and get right back to using your hot tub while the old dirty filter is soaking and drying.

BioGuard Strip-Kwik Degreasing Filter Cleaner
Unlike the previous filter cleaner, this one has a very high pH and is specifically designed to remove grease and oil from filters. So it can be used as a supplement to the above cleaner or specifically reserved for times when you notice your filter lagging due to a suspected buildup of grease. Remember, every time bathers jump into the hot tub, they bring with them oils from their skin and hair, cosmetics, and even suntan lotion. There’s no surprise in the following statement - all of these things are oil, and all of them will compromise the efficacy of your hot tub filter.

This filter cleaner can also be used as a spray cleaner, although a spray bottle is not included. However, it is more effective when used as a filter soak. Create a solution of 1 part of Strip-Kwik to 3 parts water.

BioGuard Off The Wall Surface Cleaner
Our BioGuard Off The Wall Surface Cleaner is designed specifically for the cleaning of hot tub shells. This will help remove scum buildup on the waterline and any biofilm that can accumulate on the hot tub surfaces. Like the spray cleaner we mentioned previously, this cleaner has a very low pH and is extremely effective at removing, scale, dirt and grease from your hot tub shell.

Not only is this cleaner tough on grease and dirt, but it is also compatible with all sanitation systems. It is not abrasive, and it will not harm your shell or liner. It is safe to use on all pool and spa surfaces including vinyl, acrylic, tile, or paint. Simply apply it to the walls of your shell and watch the dirt melt away as you wipe it with a clean rag or towel.

When your hot tub is empty and you apply cleaner to the shell, it’s a good idea to get in there and manually remove any stains, dirt or biofilm that is particularly stubborn. Use a cloth, a cleaning brush or a sponge to wipe away any stains or film that has accumulated there. If you don’t get rid of the film before you refill the hot tub, it will just pick up where it left off. After you remove any dirt, scale or film, it’s important to rinse the shell down thoroughly.

BioGuard Stow-Away Cover Cleaner and Storage Solution
This amazing hot tub and pool cover cleaner is a miraculous formula that allows them to be cleaned and then stored wet without waiting for them to dry. It’s also pH neutral to prevent it from messing up your balance if it comes in contact with the water.

In accordance with the label instructions, simply apply this special cleaner to your hot tub cover, brush the cover to remove any dirt or grime, and wipe clean. This cleaner inhibits the growth of mildew and will protect your covers even if you store then without waiting for them to dry fully. Keeping your hot tub cover clean will extend its lifespan as well, and not just its appearance.

Contact Us!
We understand that this guide is brief and that you may have some further questions about the processes that we suggested here. Don’t be shy about reaching out to our customer service team. You can reach us at 866-546-8882. We’ve seen a little bit of everything when it comes to pools and hot tubs and we’d be glad to make it a little easier for you!

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