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How to Clean a Hot Tub [Expert Guide]

  |   Maintenance & Water Care, Ownership   |   27 Comments

Couple Relaxing in a Hot Tub

When you think of buying a hot tub, you probably envision relaxing after a long day, quiet evenings with your spouse or incredible backyard parties with friends and family. A hot tub is an investment in you, your home, and the lives of your loved ones. It’s a fantastic experience and it’s always ready when you are.


But if you’re like most people, when you consider owning a hot tub, you may also be concerned at you think of the cleaning and maintenance required. After all, aren’t hot tubs hard to clean and maintain?


Learn how to maintain your hot tub by downloading our free hot tub maintenance guide.


Thankfully, the answer to this question today is “no.” With modern advances in self-cleaning systems and incredible materials that stay clean much longer, a little regular attention goes a long way.

By following these simple steps, you’ll keep your hot tub clean, fresh, and always ready for relaxation and fun. Best of all, these simple hot tub cleaning instructions are easy to do and don’t take much time at all.

Keep your hot tub clean and running efficiently with these tips:

1. Keep Your Hot Tub Covered

2. Clean Your Filters

3. Change Your Water

4. Cleaning the Spa Shell Surface

5. Consult with Your Spa Dealer


Keep Your Hot Tub Covered

Bullfrog Spas hot tub coverThis one seems kind of like cheating because it really doesn’t require much effort or time but one of the easiest ways to keep your hot tub clean is to simply use a hot tub cover while not in use.


Premium insulating and protective hot tub covers come standard with all Bullfrog Spas models.   The cover not only keeps out leaves and dust, it also shades your hot tub when not in use and preserves the life of your spa.   To help prolong its life and keep your spa cover looking as good as new, clean and condition it about once a month.


To begin, remove the hot tub cover and lay it on a flat, clean surface, then rinse with a garden hose to remove any loose debris and dirt. Next, clean the top vinyl portion of the cover with a mild dishwashing soap and a soft bristle brush, scrubbing in a gentle circular motion. Rinse the cover thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth.   To condition the cover, use an appropriate vinyl conditioner (check your owner’s manual for compatibility). Be sure to never use a petroleum-based product or other cleaning agents that may damage the finish of your spa cover. If your spa cover is exposed to tree sap, which happens occasionally, you can use a small amount of BBQ lighter fluid on a rag to remove it. Wipe clean and immediately apply vinyl conditioner to the area.


Key Takeaway: Keeping your hot tub covered is the simplest way to keep it clean. You want your hot tub ready to go the minute you feel like getting in, and the hot tub cover will keep out debris and have it ready to go. Taking care of the cover will keep it looking good and functional so it can effectively do its job.

TIME: 15 Minutes

Clean Your Filters


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It is important to clean your hot tub filters regularly. It’s easy to do. Cleaning your filters regularly will go a long way to keep your water clean and improve the longevity of your spa. It is recommended that you clean your filters every 3 to 6 weeks depending on how often you use the spa.   With proper cleaning, hot tub filters last quite a long time but eventually they need to be replaced. Bullfrog Spas filters should be replaced roughly every 1 to 2 years depending on usage frequency.


To clean your filters, start by placing the spa in “hold” mode, then remove the filter cap, filter plate and then the hot tub filter cartridges themselves. Remove the cartridges by turning counter-clockwise. Once removed from the spa, use a high-pressure garden hose to spray clean the fabric filtration material. Work from top to bottom on each pleat. Avoid using a brush to clean filter cartridges, as this could cause damage to the filtration medium.  


removing hot tub filters

how to clean hot tub filters


If you notice that your cartridge has collected suntan lotions or body oils, soak the cartridge in warm water with a filter cleaner or detergent. To remove calcium deposits, soak your cartridge in a plastic container using a 1:10 muriatic acid to water ratio and then rinse clean with water.   Once you’ve finished cleaning your filters, simply reinstall your cartridges and reset the control system.


Expert tip: It is helpful to set a monthly reminder (on your phone or in your calendar app) to clean your filters. Doing so regularly will extend the life of your filters and keep your hot tub clean and ready for use.

TIME: 20 Minutes

Change Your Water

Your spa cover will keep your water protected and your automatic filtration and purification system will remove impurities on an ongoing basis. The hot tub chemicals you use will also go a long way in keeping the water clean. However, it is still necessary to change your hot tub water at occasional but regular intervals. It’s usually best to change the water every one to four months, depending on visible water conditions and how often you use your hot tub.


To change your spa’s water, begin by identifying an area in your yard that can drain a large quantity of water. Be sure to avoid areas that could drain into a basement window well, a neighbor’s yard or any other area that could lead to water damage. Most spas drain at about 5 gallons per minute. It is usually ok to drain water onto vegetation, however, be sure to test your water first to make sure that the sanitizer level (Chlorine or Bromine) of the water is less than 0.5 PPM.   Follow these simple steps to drain your spa. First, turn off the power at the breaker. Next, locate the drain. On most Bullfrog Spas, the drain is located on the right side of the spa base below the equipment compartment door. Pull the drain out with a slight clockwise turn, then remove the drain cap. Attach a standard garden hose to the drain spout to activate the drain. Once the hot tub water is completely drained, pull the drain spout all the way out, remove the hose, replace the drain cap, and push the drain back into the spa.  

hot tub drain location
attach a hose to drain hot tub


Alternatively, you can purchase a pump system to drain the water from your spa. While your spa is empty, clean the acrylic shell (interior) with a spa surface cleaner (see the section below). Be careful not to expose your empty spa to direct sunlight as it may cause damage.


To refill your spa, simply place your garden hose into the filter compartment and turn on to fill your spa. Filling at the filters will help prevent air pockets and keep your water clean. After your hot tub is refilled, be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions for sanitizing new water.


Key Takeaway: This process may sound more complicated than it is. Just follow the steps, and after the first time, you will feel like a water-changing pro. Unless your hot tub requires more regular water changes, set a reminder to change the water about every new season, or every three to six months. This will help make sure your system stays clean.

TIME: 60 minutes

Cleaning the Spa Shell Surface

Cleaning behind JetPaksWhen changing your spa’s water, or any time you find it necessary, take the time to quickly clean the shell (interior) of you spa. Regularly cleaning the interior of your spa only takes a few minutes and prevents buildup at and below the water line.


A small amount of mild dishwashing soap or a window cleaner work out well as hot tub cleaner. Apply with a soft damp cloth or sponge, rinse well, and dry with a clean cloth. Use a mild acrylic cleaner or mild detergent to treat any stubborn stains. For hard water spots or light scratches, contact your authorized Bullfrog Spas dealer. If you own a Bullfrog Spa with the JetPak Therapy System™, don’t forget to clean your removable JetPaks® as well using the same method described above.   If you notice a line at the water level of your hot tub shell, don’t panic. These lines occur when oils, lotions, and hair products build up on the surface of the water. They’re easily removed with a spa shell surface cleaner—just be sure to pick a cleaning agent that won’t leave soap residue in the water, such as an acrylic surface cleaning product from your dealer or manufacturer or mild glass cleaner.


Expert Tip: An easy way to remember to clean your spa shell surface is to do it every time you change your hot tub water. You will be amazed at what a difference cleaning the surface makes. It is a relatively easy thing to do, but it makes your hot tub look like new. It also protects the surface so it will last longer.

TIME: 15 Minutes


It Doesn’t Take Long to Clean Your Hot Tub and Keep it Clean

Don’t let the small amount of necessary hot tub maintenance get in the way of owning and enjoying your hot tub. A spa is always ready and waiting for relaxation, stress relief and fun. Simply invest a small amount of time in regularly cleaning your spa, and you’ll enjoy a beautiful and relaxing spa for years to come.   By following smaller maintenance steps on a on a regular basis, you can avoid larger maintenance or repair jobs. Plus, your hot tub will feel that much more relaxing when it is regularly clean and always ready for use.



Consult with Your Spa Dealer

If you ever have any questions about cleaning or maintaining your spa, don’t forget that you can always reach out to your spa dealer. If you can’t find the answer to your question in your owner’s manual or our FAQs, dealers are more than happy to provide recommendations. Let their experience make your life easier so you can relax in your pristine hot tub.


Hot Tub Maintenance Guide


AUTHOR - Bullfrog Spas

Bullfrog Spas is a premier brand of personalized premium hot tubs. With proprietary hydromassage technology and an eye for contemporary design, Bullfrog Spas is revolutionizing the concept of the portable hot tub and providing a relaxation experience unlike any other. Discover the award winning spa of the future today.

  • Shirley Kallio | May 15, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    It looks very simple and easy to do. I would love a chance to win the BULLFROG SPA!! Thank You!

  • Mary Lou Sinclair | Jul 5, 2015 at 8:21 am

    I’m doing a full cleaning and want to clean behind the jet packs. It has only been cleaned behind the jet packs once in 3 years and I can now see discoloration or perhaps chemical build up on the hoses so I want to do a thorough cleaning by taking them completely out, cleaning the hosing with a soft brush, vacuuming out any water remaining at the bottom of the tub-jetpack area, and then reinserting them. I’m okay with loosening the water knobs but do you think I can unscrew the air line? Nada. Is there a trick? I’m hesitant to use a metal tool on all these lovely plastic parts. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Jake Ricks

      Bullfrog Spas | Jul 6, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      Our tech team says the following: The pipes can get a little stiff over time, heat from a heat gun to warm the pipes will help make them easier to turn or you can try a pair of pliers. Replace the ½ flex tubing for future use. It is recommended to clean behind the JetPaks with every new drain and fill.

  • Drew | Jul 7, 2015 at 8:46 am

    I would have thought that cleaning would be a lot more challenging but this doesn’t look too bad. It’s a lot easier than I thought.

  • Buds | Jul 10, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Great article. Sometimes when people hear the term “self-cleaning”, they think that the hot tub does not require any work. Although as described in this article, it’s not as scary as it seems.

  • Richard | Jul 22, 2015 at 9:01 am

    I am noticing build up on mold underneath 2 of 4 LCD lights – It is not under the “clear” rim piece of plastic, but on the white ring inside the clear plastic rim, ie, it can’t be reached with a toothbrush, ect. How do I clean this or is this a defect?

  • longisland_hot_tub_spa_blog » Getting Your Bullfrog Spa Ready for Fall: Easy-Peasy DIY | Sep 17, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    […] For more on how to drain the spa and clean the shell surface: […]

  • Norman Aamodt | Jan 25, 2017 at 10:47 am

    We didn’t clean our tub for a few months and after I did residue came out of the pipes.. (the tub itself is spotless). Is there a way to clean the pipes?

    • Bullfrog Spas | Mar 1, 2017 at 9:17 am

      You will likely want to use a super chlorination regimen for a period of a few weeks and shock treatment, followed by a drain and refill. Your local Authorized Dealer may have additional recommendations based on your specific water chemistry in your area.

  • alison coolidge | Apr 6, 2017 at 5:02 am

    We want to shut our spa down for winter in Massachusetts. How do I ensure the pumps won’t freeze?

  • John Richard | Mar 1, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Hi, we have had our r6 for 4 months now and I am ready to change the water and clean the tub surfaces. Everything looks good, no weird films etc inside the tub, I keep the filters clean, water chlorinated and balanced. My dealer recommends a system flush using chemicals and then a fill and flush after that before the final refill. Is this necessary given how little pipe is running in my spa and the spa appears clean?

    • Bullfrog Spas | Mar 26, 2018 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks for the question. While it may not be necessary, it is a step that can prevent build up over time. The need for this kind of treatment can vary greatly with your source water chemistry so often local dealers will have the best information on which steps will work best in your area.

  • Barbara J Muir | Mar 3, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Directions cleaning filters

  • Dave Sperry | May 26, 2018 at 7:04 am

    Hi. I am getting little white flakes in my Hottub and don’t know what the source is? Any ideas?

    • Bullfrog Spas | May 29, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      This may be scaling, which is a build-up of minerals usually due to pH and or alkalinity being too high. You can often treat it by lowering your pH to dissolve those solids, however, be sure not to lower pH to the point that it may damage equipment.

  • Elise Slater | Jul 16, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Hello! Drained our bromine treated hot tub, bought new filters, took out jet paces and cleaned those also. Cleaned with CitraBright hot tub cleaner and rinsed throughly. Refilled with fresh water. Now there is a gritty scum that has appeared. Used a kitchen sponge and it does come off. Don’t see any residue on the sponge or in the water – clear as can be, but comes back the next day. Any ideas?

    • Bullfrog Spas | Aug 8, 2018 at 9:43 am

      This may be a scale from new source water that is too high in alkalinity or dissolved solids. We would suggest measuring both alkalinity and pH to ensure that they are in range. Sometimes you can eliminate scale by lowering your pH. Sometimes a scale removal treatment is necessary.

  • Robert Hecht | Apr 7, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Whenever I remove the jet packs after emptying the tub, the black rubber gaskets leave a horrible black residue all over the connections, the plastic and basically make a huge black mess. Why does this happen and what do I do? Is the black from the gaskets seeping into the water? I am very concerned about this. Also have some other questions:
    1) my display has lost its brightness. It is only visible at night. During the day the screen is unreadable.
    2) all of th headrest clips (the ones that snap around the white plastic tubes in each jetpack have broken.
    3) The headrests have become horribly discolored over time and look very ugly. Why? I have the tub covered full time.

    • Bullfrog Spas | May 15, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      This sounds like it may have something to do with the chemicals used to sanitize the spa and/or an excess buildup of gasses during periods of low use. Please get in touch with your local dealer or our Technical Services team for suggestions on how to avoid this.

  • Snehal Patels | May 11, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    I started draining the tub at 9AM and it is now 5PM and the tub is still not fully drained. I can see the water coming out of the hose I attached to the tub, but the tub has still not fully drained. According to the instructions above, it says the tub will drain approximately 5 gallons per minute, so that should be about 2 hours for my R Seris as it is a little over 500 gallons. Could there be something I am doing wrong?

    • Bullfrog Spas | May 13, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      It’s possible that there is a blockage in the drain line or that the drain outlet where the hose attaches is not at the halfway point but pressed in our out a bit too far. If not one of these situations you may have a problem that would need to be inspected by a service tech. Please either contact your dealership or for more information.

  • CLARENCE Driver | Apr 5, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    How often do you need to soak the filters? Also if you use a filter soak solution how many times and how long will it last?

    • Lance Hansen | Apr 7, 2020 at 8:02 am

      Great question Clarence. We recommend that you rinse the filters every 6-8 weeks. Soak them in solution about twice a year, every six months or so.
      This is also based on usage. So, you may have to spray them down a little more often. We recommend only using the solution twice a year though.

      Stay Healthy

  • Amy Denyer | May 3, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    We have a STIL7. Looking to clean out the waterfall feature. There is no access to it from behind the cabinet due to the insulation. Is there a way to pop it off from inside the tub?

    • Lance Hansen | May 13, 2020 at 6:43 am

      The best you could do is loosen up the nuts on the backside, inside the panel. that will give you a little of space between he waterfall and the shell to clean out. In order to clean the front you would have to use something thin enough to get in the cracks.

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