Best Way to Clean Hot Tub Filters at Home: 6 Solutions

Your hot tub water is getting dirty.

It’s been a while, and you can’t really remember the last time you cleaned it.

It’s time to think about hot tub filter cleaning once again.

If you have owned your hot tub for some time, cleaning a hot tub filter probably isn’t news to you. However, you still might not have realized the best way to clean hot tub filters, and you might not even have known there’s more than one way to go about this important maintenance task.

And if you’re a newcomer to the world of hot tub ownership, cleaning hot tub filter components might seem like a confusing and daunting task. You might be wondering about the best way to clean a hot tub filter, and you might have no real idea where to get started.

No matter what your situation, this article is here to help.

In this article, you’ll learn how to clean hot tub filters, and you’ll also be introduced to many of the important aspects of dealing with a filter from start to finish. You’ll learn how to recognize the different parts of a hot tub filter as well as how they work together to get the job done. You’ll be able to choose the best way to clean hot tub filter systems to suit your specific needs and preferences, and you’ll be given a few tips and tricks to make it easier, too.

Cleaning hot tub filters doesn’t have to be confusing or scary. Read on to learn more.

Structure of a Hot Tub

Before you learn how to clean hot tub filter systems, it’s important to look at the hot tub as a whole. Understanding the structure of your spa can help you see just why cleaning your filter is so important. This can also help you find the filter when the time comes, and it can give you a better idea of what cleaning your whole hot tub is really like.

  • Shell – This is the hard fiberglass (or sometimes stone) part of your hot tub that’s designed to look attractive and aesthetically pleasing. This is the part of the hot tub where you will sit, and it also contains the foot bath portion of the spa.
  • Cabinet – This is the wooden outer casing of the hot tub. It may also be made of other materials. Inside the cabinet, the hot tub is insulated to help keep the shell as warm as possible at all times. The cabinet is also home to an access door that allows you to reach the inner workings of the hot tub.
  • Pipelines – These pipes run throughout the hot tub and carry water between all the major parts of the system. They run from the filter to the pump and from the pump to the jets. There is also a drain pipe present to help make it easier to drain your hot tub for cleanings.
  • Jets – The jets are situated inside your hot tub. Depending on the size of your spa, you may have as few as four or as many as ten jets present. They are attached to pipes that help pump water through them, making the water bubble.
  • Controls and heater – The controls are on top of the spa’s shell, while the heater itself is situated just inside the access panel. You can find the inner workings associated with both of these parts just underneath them inside the hot tub’s cabinet.
  • Pump – This is a very important part of your hot tub. It should be easy to access inside the cabinet of your spa. The pump moves water throughout the hot tub system, and also makes it easier to filter that water thoroughly. Without the pump, your spa wouldn’t be able to run. You would have no jets and no hot water to enjoy in your tub.
  • Filter – The filter is in charge of keeping your water clean, but it also helps keep air and debris from entering the pipelines and causing damage to the pump. The filter housing unit should be visible inside your hot tub’s shell, and it should be located behind either a flapping door or a grate. The rest of the filter system is inside the inner workings of the hot tub.

Structure of a Filter

Now that you know more about the structure of the hot tub itself, it’s time to learn about what parts make up the filter. There are quite a few small working parts that are involved in the hot tub filter, but for the most part, there are three major sections you need to pay attention to.

  • Lid – The lid of the hot tub filter is made up of the lock ring and the air vent valve. The lock ring works to hold the filter in place in your hot tub. It’s an important piece of the filter that keeps the entire system from shifting to the wrong position and causing dirt and debris to enter your pipelines. The air vent valve keeps air from entering the pipelines in much the same way.
  • Body – The body of the hot tub filter contains the cartridge, the cartridge gasket, and the bypass valve. The cartridge is the part of the filter you are most concerned with. It is the part that needs to be cleaned regularly and replace about once a year. Most of the time, this is a large cylinder that slides down into the body of your filter system. The cartridge gasket is the part of the filter that holds the cartridge in place. The bypass valve allows water to move through the filter media appropriately.
  • Base – This piece of the filter is usually made of durable plastic or sometimes metal. Along with the lock ring, it holds the filter in place and keeps it from moving. It is usually attached to the pipelines to allow water to move through the filter.
  • Hardware – The rest of the filter is mostly comprised of hardware pieces. These are important parts of the filter that usually come partially installed.

How do you Know it’s Time to Clean the Filter?

The next step toward cleaning your hot tub filter is knowing when it’s time to do a deep clean and when you can get by with just a rinse. Keep the following time frame in mind in order to make the most of your hot tub cleaning schedule.

  • Every two weeks – Check your filter every two weeks. Take a look at it and see if it’s starting to look grimy. If so, you might need to rinse it every two weeks. In order to rinse the filter, you don’t need to turn off or drain the hot tub completely, so this is a quick task.
  • Every month – Every month you should definitely plan to at least rinse the filter media. Remove it and turn off the hot tub so the pump won’t run without the filter in place. Rinse the filter completely, making sure to remove any visible large debris or build-up of dirt. Dry it with an old towel and replace it, then turn the hot tub back on.
  • Every three months – Remove the filter and give it a thorough soak every three months using the cleaning solution of your choice. Use the directions later in this article to clean the filter properly at this time.
  • Every year – Most hot tub filters will need to be replaced every year. Discard your old filter and put in a new one. From there, simply start your cleaning schedule over again.

How to Clean the Hot Tub

Before you clean your filter, you’ll need to know how to clean your hot tub as well. Most of the time, you’ll be taking care of both of these tasks at the same time, so it’s a good idea to plan an entire cleaning day to set aside to scrub the whole hot tub from top to bottom while you’re also rinsing and soaking the filter. Follow these simple steps below and you’ll have a sparkling hot tub in no time.

  • Turn off the power to the hot tub. It is important that the pump doesn’t run while you’re cleaning the hot tub, both for your safety and for the safety of the spa.
  • Drain the hot tub, leaving only water in the foot bath. If you need to clean the foot bath, you can drain this portion as well, but it’s a little more difficult to do in most spas. Most of the time, you can leave the foot bath water in place for easier access to the rest of the tub.
  • Spray the shell of the hot tub down with a hot tub cleaner. You can purchase a hot tub cleaner at any pool supply store, or in some spas, you can use a glass cleaner like Windex. Be sure to check your spa’s owner’s manual before you use a cleaner not traditionally made for hot tubs.
  • Rinse with the garden hose and wipe dry. Be sure to remove any residue from your hot tub cleaner, as remaining residue can cause your water to foam when you refill the tub.
  • Use a toothbrush dipped in hot tub cleaner to scrub around the jets and lights. Be sure to get inside the jets as well. You may be surprised at how much gunk and grime build up around this portion of your hot tub, especially if you don’t regularly clean these areas.
  • Use a toothbrush dipped in hot tub cleaner to scrub around the jets and lights. Be sure to get inside the jets as well. You may be surprised at how much gunk and grime build up around this portion of your hot tub, especially if you don’t regularly clean these areas.
  • Rinse and wipe dry. Be sure to remove traces of grime as well as residue from your hot tub cleaner.
  • Use a cleaner designed for the hot tub cover to spray down the cover. It takes a special type of cleaner to clean the material most hot tub covers are made from, so be sure to purchase one for this purpose.
  • Use a cleaner designed for the hot tub cover to spray down the cover. It takes a special type of cleaner to clean the material most hot tub covers are made from, so be sure to purchase one for this purpose.
  • Rinse it with the garden hose and wipe it dry. Do not leave it wet for too long, or you risk mold or mildew growing on the cover. This is also a good time to check for any damage to the hot tub cover. This piece of your hot tub is often overlooked, but it’s very important in keeping debris from getting into the water.
  • Follow the steps outlined below to clean the filter. This is arguably the most important step in cleaning your whole hot tub system, so be sure not to skip it.

How to Clean the Filter

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about the hot tub filter you’ll be working with, you may find yourself wondering, “How do you clean hot tub filters?” It’s time to choose your favorite method to take care of that job. Below are six of the most popular ways to clean your hot tub filter DIY-style. Remember that the type of filter you choose will have some impact on which cleaning option you will want to go with. Check out the details below and choose the one that works best for your needs to help you achieve a clean hot tub filter right away.

1. Bleach

Cleaning hot tub filters with bleach is a popular if old-fashioned method of keeping your hot tub water sparkling and clear at all times. Bear in mind when learning how to clean hot tub filter with bleach, however, that a lot of filter cartridges are not able to withstand prolonged exposure to bleach since it’s a very harsh chemical. If you choose to use this method, you might want to alternate it with some other cleaning method every other time to ensure the longest life of your filter.

Materials Needed:

  • ¼ cup of bleach
  • 5 gallons of hot water
  • 1 large pickle tub
  • 1 large pickle tub
  • 1 garden hose
  • 1 old towel

Process:

1. Remove the filter from your hot tub and place it in the pickle tub.

2. Use the garden hose to add 5 gallons of hot water to your pickle tub.

3. Stir in the ¼ cup of bleach until mixed well.

4. Let soak for 2 hours. Do not soak overnight.

5. Remove the filter and use your garden hose to rinse it completely of any remaining bleach residue.

6. Let the filter dry overnight or up to 24 hours.

7. Use the old towel to remove any lingering bleach residue from the filter.

8. Replace the filter in your hot tub.

9. Fill the hot tub through your filter and turn it back on.

2. Dishwasher

Have you always wondered how to clean a hot tub filter in the dishwasher? Washing hot tub filters in the dishwasher has become more and more popular in recent years, along with the rise of cleaning them with dish and laundry detergent. It’s very easy to get your filter crystal clean when washing it in the dishwasher, but bear in mind that you do need to keep a close eye on it if you go this route. Filters washed in the dishwasher are more prone to falling apart after a few cleanings than those washed with another method. Cleaning hot tub filters in dishwasher water might not be the best choice for very dirty filters.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 dishwasher
  • 1 hot tub filter
  • 1 garden hose
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons of dish detergent

Process:

1. Note: it is possible to clean using this method with no dish detergent added. For best results, add detergent.

2. Remove the hot tub filter from your hot tub and place it on the top rack of your dishwasher.

3. Do not add any other dishes or other items to your dishwasher.

4. If using dish detergent, add it as you normally would to the compartment in your dishwasher.

5. Run the dishwasher for the longest amount of time possible.

6. Remove the filter from the dishwasher and take it outside.

7. Rinse the filter completely with your garden hose.

8. Let it dry for at least 24 hours before replacing it in your hot tub.

9. Fill the hot tub through the filter and turn it back on.

3. Detergent

One of the best ways to clean your hot tub filters the DIY way is to simply wash them with dish detergent or laundry detergent. Both of these work equally well, although dish detergent is slightly more popular overall. Choose your favorite soap and follow these directions for one of the mildest and easiest methods to keep your filter clean. This method is gentle enough to use every time you clean, so you won’t need to alternate it with something else to keep your filters from becoming too weak. When you want a clean hot tub filter dishwasher detergent is a great way to go.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 large pickle tub
  • 1 garden hose
  • 1 cup of dish detergent
  • 4 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate
  • 5 gallons of hot water
  • 1 hot tub filter

Process:

1. Remove the filter from your hot tub and place it in the large pickle tub.

2. Fill the pickle tub with five gallons of hot water using your garden hose.

3. Mix the dish detergent and trisodium phosphate into the hot water.

4. Let soak for at least 24 hours.

5. Remove the filter and use the garden hose to rinse it completely of any remaining cleaning mixture.

6. Let the filter dry for at least 24 hours more before you replace it in your hot tub.

7. Fill the hot tub through the filter and turn it back on.

4. Filter Cleaner

Of course, you can’t go wrong using filter cleaner. Although you might prefer to use household items to clean your filters, choosing a great filter cleaner is a good option if you find other methods just aren’t cutting it for you. Many filter cleaners are designed to fight bacteria that other types of cleaners might not be able to handle, and there are even some filter cleaners made to work with hard water calcium build-ups. Be sure to choose a good product and you’ll be happy with your clean every time.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 spray bottle of filter cleaner
  • 1 garden hose
  • 1 hot tub filter
  • 1 old towel

Process:

1. Remove the filter from your hot tub and place it on a surface such as your patio or a tarp in your backyard.

2. Spray the filter generously with the filter cleaner in your spray bottle. Be sure to get in every pleat of the filter media.

3. Let the filter stand for at least 2 hours to allow the cleaner to permeate the dirt and debris.

4. Use your garden hose to rinse the filter completely clean of filter cleaner.

5. Let the filter dry for 24 hours.

6. Use the old towel to dry in between the pleats well before replacing the filter in your hot tub.

7. Note that filter cleaner will cause a lot of foaming in your water if you don’t rinse and dry your filter completely after cleaning with this method.

8. Refill your hot tub through the filter and turn it back on.

5. Organic Materials

If you’re worried about exposing yourself and your family to harsh chemicals in filter cleaning solutions, bleach, or even detergents, you might want to go with an organic material to clean your water instead. Many hot tub owners are learning more about how to clean a hot tub filter naturally. These are gentler options that can be good choices for filters that aren’t terribly dirty. If you have hard water, this type of cleaning might not be strong enough to get the job done. The same is true of a very dirty filter. However, if your filter is only moderately dirty, you can benefit a lot from an organic cleaner.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 large pickle tub
  • 1 large bag of sea salt
  • 1 garden hose
  • 1 hot tub filter

Process:

1. Remove the filter from your hot tub and place it in the pickle tub.

2. Use your garden hose to fill the pickle tub with enough water to cover your filter completely.

3. Add plenty of sea salt. The amount you add depends on the amount of water in your pickle tub. Add about 1 cup of sea salt per 1 gallon of water.

4. Let the filter soak overnight.

5. Use your garden hose to completely rinse your filter of any remaining sea salt.

6. Let the filter dry overnight before replacing it in your hot tub.

7. This process may need to be repeated a couple of times for more stubborn dirt and debris.

8. Refill the hot tub through your filter and turn it back on.

6. Vinegar

Finally, vinegar is yet another popular way to keep filters clean. Many homeowners swear by the cleaning properties of plain vinegar, so if you’re looking for an affordable way to try your hand at cleaning your hot tub filter on your own, look no further than this option. Vinegar is probably the easiest way to clean your filters, but once again, it might be too gentle for very severely dirtied filters or anyone dealing with hard water and calcium.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 large pickle tub
  • 1 large bottle of white vinegar
  • 1 garden hose
  • 1 hot tub filter

Process:

1. Remove the filter from the hot tub and place it in the pickle tub.

2. Use your garden hose to fill the pickle tub with enough water to completely cover the filter.

3. Pour in about half the bottle of vinegar. You may need to add more depending on the size of your pickle tub.

4. Try to maintain a 50/50 ratio of water and vinegar.

5. Let the filter soak for at least 3 hours to overnight.

6. Remove the filter and use the garden hose to rinse it completely clean of vinegar.

7. Let the filter dry for 24 hours before replacing it in the hot tub.

8. Fill the hot tub through the filter and turn it back on to complete the process.

Tips and Tricks for Getting the Cleanest Filter

Now that you’ve learned about the different methods for cleaning your hot tub filter, you’re probably ready to get started with the one that sounds best to you. However, there are a few more last-minute tips and tricks you need to keep in mind before you head out to take care of this important step in the hot tub cleaning process. Read on to find out more.

  • Hot tub filters must dry before you replace them. Although you might be tempted to put the filter right back in your hot tub after you rinse it off, it’s very important to let it dry completely before you do this. In the event that there is any residue left from your cleaning solution on the filter cartridge, that residue will find its way into your hot tub water if you don’t let it dry. This can cause some foam to form in your water, and it may cause skin irritation as well.
  • Alternating hot tub filters can make the process go much more smoothly. Work with two separate filters and take turns between them for the best possible results. This way, while one filter is soaking and drying for a couple of days, you can go ahead and put the second filter in place in your hot tub. This will cut back on the downtime between your hot tub uses.
  • Very hard water might be too difficult to clean regularly. If your water is very hard, it’s likely to cause calcium deposits to build up on your filter media. If this happens, it might be too difficult to clean your filter regularly, and you might need to budget for more frequent complete filter cartridge replacements. Treating your water or installing a water softener are other options.
  • Filters more than a year old should probably be replaced. If you don’t use your hot tub very often, you might be able to get away with replacing your filter every two years instead of every one. However, if you’re at the one year mark and your filter is starting to look worn out, don’t keep using it. Just replace it.
  • Check your whole filter every time you do a deep clean. Take this time to look over the entire filter system to check for any damage or problem areas. You’ll be able to notice if anything looks like it’s coming loose, smoking, or making a strange sound. This can help you stop big problems before they arise.
  • Clean the filter housing unit every time you soak your filter cartridge. Normally, all you need to do is wipe out the filter housing unit with a damp cloth to clean it. However, if you have a lot of grime building up in your filter, you might need to scrub it a little harder. Don’t skip this step when it’s time to clean your filter, as it helps cut back on the build-up on your filter media too.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to cleaning your hot tub filter. In this article, you’ve already learned a lot of it! Now that you’ve worked your way through reading this article, you should have a better understanding of how to recognize the parts of your hot tub filter and the way they work together to keep your water clean. You should know how to tell when it’s time to clean your hot tub, and you should have a good idea of the best cleaning methods available for you when it comes time to soak your filter.

Now all that’s left to do is pick your favorite way to clean your hot tub filter and get started. Remember that it’s not as hard as it sounds to clean your filter at home and that you’re only a few simple steps away from being able to take care of this crucial part of hot tub maintenance without having to get a professional involved.

All you have to do is gather your materials, get your dirty filter ready, and get started cleaning!

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