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How to Drain a Hot Tub (Quick and Easy Steps)

By Matt Giovanisci | Updated: October 17, 2023

Looking for the easiest, quickest way to drain your hot tub? Once you know where the drain valve is located and you get the right tools (like a hose and sump pump), draining a hot tub can take as little as one to two hours. And using a line flush cleaner when you drain your hot tub is the only way to actually clean inside your hot tub plumbing.

So here’s a quick guide on how to drain your hot tub to get it ready for a deep clean and refill with new, fresh water. Keep reading for the step-by-step walkthrough or watch the video tutorial below.

Supplies Your Need to Drain a Hot Tub

If you’re draining your hot tub, take advantage of emptying out all of the water. Plan to also flush out your hot tub plumbing, clean your filter, and wipe down the surfaces. And while you don’t absolutely need sump pump, it will shorten your drain time from half a day to an hour or so. To drain a hot tub, you’ll need the following supplies:

How to Drain a Hot Tub (5 Steps)

Before you physically drain out the water, plan to flush out your lines. Once the water is removed, make sure you give yourself time to wipe down the surfaces before refilling it.

1. Add a Hot Tub Line Flush Cleaner

Adding a hot tub line flush will purge your plumbing lines of any gunk and build-up as you use your hot tub. This gunk is called biofilm, which forms inside your lines. And it can’t be removed by your normal hot tub sanitizer like chlorine or bromine. So before you drain water, add the line flush cleaner, turn your jets on high, and let it circulate for at least 20 minutes.

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As the cleaner circulates through your spa plumbing, you might notice gross-looking foam on the surface of the water. That means it’s working and pulling out all of that nasty biofilm that’s in your pipes. You can remove the nasty foam with a small surface skimmer.

2. Drain Your Hot Tub

Before draining, shut off your hot tub at the circuit breaker. You don’t want your jets or pump to kick on without water. Then, decide how you want to remove the water. There are two options for draining your hot tub: a hose or a sump pump.

  1. Draining with a hose. If you’re using a hose, start by finding and removing the cap on the hot tub drain valve. This is usually near the base of your hot tub so that water can drain from the lowest point of the spa. Once you’ve found the spa drain, unscrew the drain plug and connect the hose. Open your drain’s ball valve or turn the base of your drain to start the flow of the water. The water will drain out over the next few hours.
  2. Draining with a submersible pump (sump pump). This is a faster option. Attach a garden hose to your sump pump. Then, place the pump inside the deepest part of the hot tub. Plug in the pump and turn it on. Just be sure to keep an eye on the water level. If the pump runs dry, it can burn up the motor. Depending on the size of your hot tub, this could take an hour.

Where is the drain plug on my hot tub?

Your hot tub has a drain valve near the bottom of your tub. Some models may have two drain spigots. The primary spigot drains the hot tub, while the auxiliary spigot is meant for bleeding the internal lines. There may also be a panel hiding the drain valve.


Whichever method you choose, drain your water into a sewer cleanout port or a utility sink in your home. Do not empty the water into a storm drain. And be careful emptying it into your lawn or garden since the water has chemicals.

There will be a little water left in the center footwell of your spa. The best way to drain the remaining water is to use a wet/dry vacuum (shop vac). You can also use a siphon-powered spa vacuum (spa wand) if you have one.

3. Clean or Replace the Hot Tub Filter

While the water drains from your hot tub, take a moment to clean your hot tub filter. Remove the cartridge and soak it in a hot tub filter cleaner. Grab a 5-gallon (20-liter) bucket and fill it nearly to the brim with water. Add the dose of hot tub filter cleaner to the bucket of water (according to the product instructions). Give the water a swish to dilute the cleaner, and submerge the filter. Leave it to soak for 24 hours.

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Important: Anytime you clean your filter with a cleaning product, rinse it thoroughly with clean water before placing it back in your hot tub. Any residual cleaner might cause foaming when you restart your spa, and then you’ll have to repeat this entire process.

Keep a second, clean filter cartridge on hand so you can restart your hot tub while the dirty filter cartridge soaks in solution overnight. And if you ever remove a filter cartridge and it’s extremely dirty or worn out, it’s time to replace it.

By the way, if you’re struggling to keep your hot tub clean and sanitized, check out the Hot Tub Handbook and Video Course. It’ll help you save time and money on hot tub maintenance.

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4. Clean the Hot Tub Surfaces

Once your hot tub is empty, it’s time for some surface cleaning.

  1. Spray your hot tub shell with hot tub surface cleaner or diluted white vinegar. Pay special attention to nooks and crannies where contaminants like mildew, algae, or bacteria could be hiding.
  2. Use a soft cloth or non-scratch nylon scrubber to remove residue.
  3. Rinse all the surfaces well, and drain all the rinse water to prevent foaming when you refill your spa.
  4. Double-check that all your jets are open after cleaning and rinsing. This reduces the risk of water pressure problems from trapped air.

Tip: Between quarterly draining and cleaning, you can clean the portion of the shell that’s above the waterline. Any cleaner you use may end up in the water, so we recommend using a melamine sponge (also called a Magic Eraser).

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5. Refill with Fresh Water and Restart Hot Tub

As you refill your hot tub, don’t leave it unattended as flooding can cause issues with your hot tub heater. And double-check to ensure the breaker is still off.

  1. Insert the hose into the filter compartment, and turn on the spigot. Filling through the filter well forces any trapped air out of your circulation system, preventing hot tub air lock.
  2. Once the hot tub is full, add your clean filter cartridge. Then, turn your spa breaker back on.
  3. Add your start-up chemicals. Keep your hot tub running with your jets on low. Turn off air valves if you have them so they don’t disrupt chemical distribution. Let chemicals circulate for at least 20 minutes before adding the next round, and test the water in between. If you need help with the right order to add chemicals, check out our Hot Tub Start-Up Guide.
  4. Cover your hot tub for 24 hours to allow the chemicals to circulate completely and the water to heat up to at least 80°F (27°C), but no higher than 104°F (40°C).

Tip: When refilling your hot tub, use a hose filter to reduce impurities such as calcium and copper that may affect your water chemistry and overall spa health. You’ll start out with higher-quality water in your spa and reduce the risk of staining and mineral deposit buildup.

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Now that you know how to drain your hot tub and how to clean your hot tub, there’s no excuse to let your spa descend into swamp territory. Keep the water balanced, test it regularly, and keep your filter clean. And you should only have to do a full drain and clean every quarter.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Drain a Hot Tub

Need more help draining a hot tub? Here are some common questions and answers.

What’s the easiest way to drain a hot tub?

The easiest way is to hook up a hose to your hot tub’s drain valve somewhere around the outside perimeter under the cabinet. Remove the drain plug, and it should start draining. You may have to pull on a tab to get the water flowing. This is easy but slow. Using a sump pump would be faster.

How do you drain all the water out of a hot tub?

The best way is to use a submersible pump (sump pump) in the deepest part of your hot tub. You can use a shop vac or hot tub siphon vacuum for any water that your pump doesn’t remove.

When should you drain your hot tub?

How can you tell it’s time to drain and clean your hot tub? There are a few clear signs and circumstances. But you should plan to drain your hot tub every 3 to 4 months, regardless.

How often should you drain your hot tub?

It’s a good idea to drain and clean your hot tub every 3-4 months, whether it looks like it needs it or not. Prevention is always preferable to correction. Keep the biofilm from building up in the first place, and you’re protecting your filter and plumbing system. You’re also maintaining a cleaner, safer soaking environment. So it’s always a good idea to keep instructions for how to drain the hot tub nearby to ensure you follow all the steps every time.

Where should you drain hot tub water?

Many cities have laws requiring you to drain your hot tub water into the sewer system. Those cities typically provide sewer access through a special drain on your property. This is not to be confused with a storm drain, where you should never dispose of hot tub water because those drains lead to natural bodies of water. Drained spa water can harm fish and other wildlife.

If you don’t have direct sewer access, you can run a hose into the drain in a utility sink in your home, or water your lawn or gardens with the old spa water, provided you’ve allowed chemical levels to dissipate. Plants don’t exactly thrive on chlorine or bromine.

Important: Before you drain your hot tub, check your city’s ordinances to ensure you’re adhering to the law and preventing any damage to the environment.

Need More Hot Tub Maintenance Help?

Matt Giovanisci, Founder and CEO of Swim University
Matt Giovanisci is the founder of Swim University® and has been in the pool and spa industry since 1995. Since then, his mission is to make pool and hot tub care easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.

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Save Time and Money with Our FREE Hot Tub Cheat Sheet
Download this FREE printable cheat sheet to keep your hot tub clean and clear. You’ll never worry about your hot tub again with this easy-to-use guide.
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