How to drain a hot tub – this essential task takes just 3 steps

You can't clean a hot tub without draining it first. Discover how to do it properly with our step-by-step guide

Hot tub on sunken decking
(Image credit: Getty Images/ExperienceInteriors)

Learning how to drain a hot tub is an essential part of hot tub maintenance. And though a fabulous addition to any backyard, your home spa does need a little care to keep it fresh.

As part of day-to-day hot tub use you might be adding sanitizing chemicals to keep harmful microorganisms at bay. But continuously adding these chemicals without draining your hot tub will mean the balance in the water becomes harder to manage.

Once you've successfully drained it, you can clean a hot tub properly and restore it to its full glory. 

hot tub on a patio

Draining a hot tub from time to time is a key factor in keeping it clean

(Image credit: Hydropool Hot Tubs)

How to drain a hot tub in 3 easy steps

If you've recently invested in one of the best hot tubs, you'll want to be sure you're taking proper care of it.

'Draining a hot tub helps remove accumulated debris, dirt and residue, maintains proper water chemistry, prevents bacterial growth, and allows for inspection and maintenance of the hot tub's components,' explains Jimmie Meece, brand president of America's Swimming Pool Company.

You'll also find that your hot tub starts to look lackluster if it's been too long since draining. Emptying it gives you the chance to enjoy the many hot tub benefits to their full capacity.

Here are the expert steps you need to follow to drain your hot tub.

1. Flush the pipes

hot tub clad with stone

Be sure to turn your hot tub off before you drain it

(Image credit: Louise Heusinkveld/Alamy Stock Photo)

Before draining your hot tub you must clean the pipes and the plumbing. It's easily done with a specialist hot tub plumbing cleaner like this Spa Depot Spa System Flush from Walmart. Simply follow the instructions on the label.

With most products like this, you add it to the water, remove the filter and turn on the jets. Left to do its work it should flush out any grime and other deposits.

2. Turn the hot tub off

a wooden hot tub in a small garden

The next stage of the process should be done with the hot tub switched off

(Image credit: Construction Photography/Avalon /Getty Images)

To drain a hot tub, you need to turn the power off by unplugging it completely or turning it off at the circuit breaker.

The last thing you want is to damage the pumps. This can happen if they run whilst the hot tub is empty.

Jimmie Meece headshot
Jimmie Meece

Jimmie Meece is the Brand President of America’s Swimming Pool Company (ASP), the largest swimming pool cleaning, repair, and renovation franchise system in the nation.

3. Drain using a hose or submersible pump

A large aqua blue colored empty hot tub on a patio deck next to a red BBQ

Once you've drained away the water, you can give your tub a good clean

(Image credit: Dolores Harvey / Alamy Stock Photo)

There is a choice of two methods for draining the water away. The first is to connect a garden hose to the drain valve.

If speed is an important factor then it may be worth investing in a submersible pump. Whichever method you choose, simply follow the steps below:

  • How to drain a hot tub with a hose:
    Locate the drainage valve of the hot tub. Connect the garden hose and run this to a drain. Open the valve to allow the water to drain out. Be aware that the process may take an hour – sometimes two.
  • How to drain a hot tub with a submersible pump:
    Plug in the pump, connect its drainage hose, and run this to the drain. Place the pump in the deepest part of the hot tub and switch it on. Allow to drain, but pay attention to the water level so you can switch off the pump when the water has been removed (unless it is a design that will do so automatically). After use, disconnect the hose and allow the pump and hose to dry before storing them away safely.
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DEKOPRO Submersible Water Pump at Amazon

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Common hot tub draining mistakes and how to avoid them

woman relaxing in a hot tub at sunset

Any remaining water can be scooped out by hand

(Image credit: Getty Images)

These are the errors the experts see most often in the hot tub drainage process, and how you can avoid them:

  • Forgetting to turn off the power
    Not only can leaving the power on while you drain your hot tub damage it, but it can also cause you and any other bystanders to get unexpectedly sprayed. 
  • Failing to drain the water to the right location
    As well as making a mess of your hot tub deck. If not taken care of properly the water from a hot tub can be harmful to grass, plants, animals, and other wildlife due to the levels of chemicals in the water. You should never discharge the water into a storm drain; check with your local water company to be sure where it can be disposed of.
  • Using the wrong tools for cleaning
    Once you've drained your hot tub it's important to clean it in the proper way. A hot tub is one of the things you should never clean with a pressure washer, for example.


How do you fill a hot tub back up once it has been drained?

To fill a hot tub after draining, connect a hose to the hot tub's water inlet, ensuring a steady water supply. 'Monitor the filling process, test the water for chemical balance as it fills and adjust as needed.' advises Jimmie Meece, brand president of America's Swimming Pool Company

Once it has been filled back up you may need to shock a hot tub with a higher volume chemicals than usual.

How often should you drain a hot tub?

'Hot tubs should typically be drained every three to four months,' says Jimmie Meece, brand president of America's Swimming Pool Company. 'However, the frequency may vary based on factors such as usage, water quality and specific recommendations from the manufacturer.'

Consider draining, cleaning, and refilling the hot tub after periods of heavy use, if the water has become cloudy or if, despite chemical treatment, the water has lost its usual sparkle.

When is the best time to drain a hot tub?

'The best time to drain a hot tub is generally during routine maintenance or when it's necessary for cleaning. Opt for a period when the hot tub is not in frequent use to minimize inconvenience,' says Jimmie Meece, brand president of America's Swimming Pool Company.

Draining a hot tub is an essential step in hot tub maintenance. Doing so safely and properly means that your hot tub can be properly cleaned and the chemical components restored to their correct levels.

If you're considering buying a hot tub, you might want to check how easy it is to drain.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.