Complete Guide to Cleaning Hot Tub Filters

When maintaining a hot tub, it’s essential to clean the filters. Lots of dirt, debris, and foam can get trapped in them, and eventually they’ll clog and the hot tub won’t run as well. Ignoring filter maintenance can even cause the filters to become damaged to the point of needing replacement, which is why it’s so important to keep up with them.

Hot tub filters require weekly, monthly, and quarterly washes, with the quarterly washes being the most in-depth and time-consuming. Filters should be cleaned carefully, without using harsh tools like a pressure washer. This way, you’ll get the most out of their lifespan.

Let’s take a closer look at best practices for cleaning hot tub filters, do’s and don’ts, and the estimated lifespan you can expect out of filters that are well taken care of.

Do I Have to Clean My Hot Tub Filter?

Swim spa filters

It’s very much necessary to frequently clean your hot tub filter. The reason for this is that is that as you use the hot tub, dirt and debris accumulate in the water, whether it’s blown in from the yard or cast off the people using it. After a while, the hot tub filters will start to get full of these things as they prevent them from cycling into the water.

Why Is My Hot Tub Filter Stained?

A filter might looked stained because of a buildup of algae or calcium, which means you need to wash it to get rid of this. This layer should come off with a deep clean, which means your filter isn’t truly stained.

If the stains aren’t coming off with a deep clean, it could be that over time, the substances that the filter has had to cycle out have caused it to change color. This doesn’t mean you need to replace it, so long as it still functions as well. 

How to Clean a Hot Tub Filter

The appropriate method of cleaning your hot tub’s filter depends on the passage of time. You should rinse your hot tub filter off every week during heavy use and give it a more serious clean on a monthly and quarterly basis.

The Weekly Clean

Every week, remove the filter from your hot tub and give it a gentle rinse with the hose. Make sure you get between the pleats to ensure you’re flushing out anything that’s gotten caught in there.

If there are leaves, dirt, or other particles within the filter, this should get rid of them and will keep your filter in good shape.

The Monthly Clean

Every month, remove the filters from the hot tub as you would to rinse them, but spray them with a filter cleaner (on Amazon) and let them sit for 15 minutes. This will help soak off any parts that are stuck and a gentle rinse can’t get off.

If you buy a cleaner that doesn’t come in a spray bottle, transferring it to one will help. Don’t pour too much cleaner on the filters, as this is a waste — a light spray every month should do the job just fine.

The Quarterly Clean

Every three months, get a plastic bucket that’s large enough to hold your filter and fill it with water and chemical cleaner according to the instructions on the bottle.

You can also mix equal parts water and vinegar (on Amazon) for a more natural solution, or 10 parts water to one part baking soda (also on Amazon).

After you’ve done this, submerge the filter in the water and let it sit for at least an hour. That amount of time should do the trick if your filter isn’t too dirty, although if it needs more, you can leave it as long as overnight.

Make sure you’ve rinsed the filter before you put it back in the hot tub, as you don’t want any cleaner to get in there. Rinse it the same way you have every week, making sure you’ve gotten all the residue off.

You should also allow it to air dry before putting it back in. Let it sit in the shade and make sure there’s no water coming off it before putting it back.

This should also be the time when you change your hot tub water and clean the shell and the jets, refreshing every component of the tub. Drain the water by attaching a hose to it, making sure to drain the water into the sewer line or the yard. Then you have clear access to the tub and jetlines, so you can catch any substances before they even get to the filter.

Wipe around the hot tub with an old rag covered in vinegar and water. Then wipe around the edges of the jets, too, and ensure you’ve gotten rid of any buildup, protecting the filters from having to deal with it.

How Long Do Hot Tub Filters Last?

Swim spa filter

It’s hard to say exactly how long a hot tub will filter will last, as they very much depend on the owner. Factors that affect their lifespan include:

  • How well you stick to cleaning them
  • How heavily the hot tub gets used
  • If anyone brings a substance into the hot tub that damages them

For the most part, a hot tub filter that’s been well taken care of should last a minimum of two years. 

Dos and Don’ts for Hot Tub Filters

When taking care of your hot tub filters, there are some things you should make sure to do and some things you should absolutely not do. Bear these in mind to get the most out of their lifespan.

Do: Clean Them Regularly

While you might think that skipping out on a quarterly cleaning isn’t bad, it can mean replacing your hot tub filter that much sooner — and can even cause the water to become unsanitary, if the filter isn’t working properly.

This can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, for people who are more sensitive to contaminated water, like those with respiratory issues.

Do: Rinse Them Thoroughly, Always

If your hot tub filter is ever touched by a chemical cleaner, you should make sure you’re rinsing it thoroughly before replacing it in the hot tub. The chemical cleaner will interact with the chlorine in the water and, at best, throw off the chemical and pH balance.

Do: Gently Brush Them if Necessary

If spraying them down with water during your weekly clean isn’t good enough, you can take a toothbrush and gently scrub between the pleats to get other substances off. You should take care to be very gentle, as being too harsh could damage the filters.

Do: Keep Up With Preventative Maintenance

The more you can protect your filters from having to deal with something, the better. If you see debris collecting in the water, scooping it out with a pool net is a good idea because then it will never reach the filters. This is especially important after heavy use or a rainstorm.

You should also use a hot tub cover to prevent dirt from entering the water. Make sure it fits well and rinse the cover down every week or two on both sides.

Although this protects other things (like the chemical balance of the water), it works to protect the filters and saves them from having to do a lot of the work, giving them a longer lifespan.

Don’t: Subject Them to Substances Not Meant for a Hot Tub

There are many things not meant for a hot tub because they foam or have chemicals that may react with chlorine, but some people don’t know this and use them anyway. This can include:

For the most part, it’s good practice to remember that the only thing that should be going in the hot tub is you and any products specifically made for a spa. Rinsing thoroughly after a shower also helps to ensure you aren’t bringing these substances in.

Don’t: Accidentally Expose Them to Laundry Detergent

You may discover that you need to wash your filters a lot more if they’re exposed to laundry detergent. This can happen because you wash your swimsuit and then go in the water and, if a lot of people are doing the same, that residue will build up.

It’s a good idea to keep some swimwear exclusively for the hot tub and wash it in cold water, with no laundry detergent involved. That way when you’re in the water, the swimsuit can’t shed detergent which will then get caught in the filters.

Don’t: Use a Pressure Washer

While it might seem like a good idea to use a much harsher spray and ensure you get all of the debris out from the filter, this can actually be very damaging. Filters are delicate, and this stream of water may break them, leading you to replace them much sooner.

Instead, use a soft but firm setting on the hose and take your time so the filters are still in good condition when you’re done.

Overall, it’s important to take care of your filters because they do a lot of work in keeping the water safe and the spa in good condition. A weekly rinse, a monthly spray with cleaner, and a quarterly chemical bath should be enough to do this.

If your filters do seem to have hit the end of their lifespan, make sure to replace them right away, as you should never run a spa without them.

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