Spring Cleaning Your Hot Tub (or Swim Spa) - Below the Surface (2023)

Spa usage typically increases in wintertime, which makes spring and summer an excellent time of year to drain, thoroughly clean, and refill your spa. Get a fresh start, simplify your water chemistry, and protect your investment for years to come.

Total reading time: About 6 minutes

Check Your Supplies

QUICK TIP: Much like the family car, your spa will perform better and maintain its beauty with a consistent maintenance routine. For best results, we recommend having the following supplies on hand:

  • Garden hose
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • A handful of clean microfiber cloths or soft rags
  • Marquis® Jetline Cleaner (or) Marquis® Ultimate Purge Gel
  • Marquis® Rapid Action Filter Cleaner
  • Marquis® Spa Bright All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Marquis® Gloss and Guard
  • If you have a vinyl spa cover: Marquis® Vinyl Cover Cleaner and 303® Cover Protectant
  • If you have a fabric spa cover: Soft-bristle brush and 303® Fabric Guard
  • If you have hard water: Marquis® Pura-Fill 5-Stage Pre-Filter

Need supplies? Contact your local Marquis Dealer for all your spa care and water care needs.


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Purge the Plumbing Lines

QUICK TIP: If you normally drain and refill your spa every three to four months, you may choose to skip this step. But if it’s been six months or longer, it’s a good idea to purge the plumbing system. Why so?

  • Everybody’s spa usage habits and local water supply are different.
  • Purging helps to prevent residue or buildup which may reduce spa performance over time.
  • Even as a precautionary measure, the added peace of mind is well worth it.

To get started, choose one of the following:

  • Marquis® Jetline Cleaner: Loosens minor buildup in the plumbing system. Use between draining cycles to prevent problems before they happen, or as a system purge just prior to draining.
  • Marquis® Ultimate Cleanse Purge Gel: A stronger cleanser for removing thicker buildup in the plumbing system. Allows for deep cleaning of plumbing lines prior to draining.

The purging process: Remove filters and set them aside in a 5-gallon bucket. If your spa is equipped with an in-line sanitation system, remove the sanitizer and conditioning cartridges and safely set them aside. With no bathers in the water, add jetline cleaner or purge gel according to the product instructions. Turn the pumps on high and allow water to circulate through all jets (or zones) for 30 minutes with the cover off. Then, move on to the draining process.

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Drain the Spa

QUICK TIP: Before draining the spa, you should consult the owner’s manual. Do not power off or drain your spa if there is any risk of freezing weather. Never leave an empty spa exposed to direct sunlight, as this may damage the spa’s interior shell.

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Typically, the draining process involves these steps:

  • With pumps turned off, turn off main power to the spa.
  • Access the equipment compartment.
  • Locate the drain hose, remove the hose bib cap, and connect a garden hose.
  • Open the drain hose valve and drain spa water away from sensitive plants or shrubs.

While the spa is draining, you can move on to the cleaning process.

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Clean the Spa

QUICK TIP: Before cleaning the spa, you should consult the owner’s manual. Only use cleaning products approved for hot tubs and swim spas. (WARNING: Do not use dish soap, ammonia, glass cleaners, citrus cleaners, organic solvents, fingernail polish remover, ketones or esters.)

Clean the Filters

To remove filters, unscrew them (counter-clockwise) and set them aside in a 5-gallon bucket away from your spa. Fill the bucket with water until filters are submerged, and add Marquis® Rapid Action Filter Cleaner according to the product instructions. Allow filters to soak overnight to loosen any residue or buildup. The next day, remove filters from the bucket, thoroughly rinse them with clean water, and allow to air dry completely. (If you wish to expedite the restart process, keep a backup set of clean filters on hand to use while the primary filters are being cleaned and air dried.)

Clean the Pillows

Prior to cleaning the spa interior, it’s a good idea to remove spa pillows and clean them separately. While you should not use dish soap to clean the spa, it’s okay to use a little soapy water to clean spa pillows themselves. Just make sure to rinse them thoroughly and remove any soapy residue. After cleaning and polishing the spa interior, remember to reattach spa pillows. (If your spa pillows are disintegrating, especially near the water line, read this article to troubleshoot the issue.)

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Clean the Spa Interior

Similar to detailing your car’s interior, the goal here is to gently remove residue from the spa shell. Once the spa has drained, use Marquis® Spa Bright All-Purpose Cleaner according to the product instructions, along with a clean microfiber cloth or soft rag. (WARNING: Do not use any abrasive products.)

Polish the Spa Interior (Optional)

Once the spa interior is clean and dry, use Marquis® Gloss and Guard according to the product instructions, along with a clean microfiber cloth or soft rag. This helps to shine and protect the spa’s interior surfaces. If you removed the spa pillows, remember to reattach them after you finish polishing the spa interior.

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Clean the Spa Cover

QUICK TIP: Depending on which material your spa cover is made from, the process may be slightly different:

If You Have a Vinyl Spa Cover (e.g. DuraCover®)

Use Marquis® Vinyl Cover Cleaner according to the product instructions. After the cover is clean and dry, use 303® Cover Protectant to protect thread and seams from drying out and cracking. Wipe off any excess with a microfiber cloth or soft rag.

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If You Have a Fabric Spa Cover (e.g. Weathershield™)

Use Marquis® Spa Bright All-Purpose Cleaner along with a soft-bristle brush. After gently scrubbing, thoroughly rinse the cover with water and allow it to drain outside the spa. Once the cover is dry, spray on 303® Fabric Guard to renew the water-resistant properties of the fabric, which helps water to bead and run off the cover’s tapered edges.

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Refill the Spa

QUICK TIP: Before refilling the spa, you should consult the owner’s manual. If your local water supply has high mineral content (i.e., “hard water”), attach a Marquis® Pura-Fill 5-Stage Pre-Filter to your garden hose before refilling. This removes sediment and reduces calcium and other mineral content.

Typically, the refilling process involves these steps:

  • Verify the drain hose valve is closed and the drain hose bib cap is on.
  • Open diverter valves and jets to allow as much air as possible to escape from the plumbing and control system during the refilling process.
  • Fill the spa to its operating level, which is about two-thirds the way up the skimmer opening.
  • Once the spa is filled with water, turn on the main power to the spa.

At this point, Marquis® hot tubs and Aquatic Training Vessels™ swim spas display a startup screen on the topside control panel:

  • The spa will automatically enter “pump priming” mode, which lasts approximately four to five minutes. During this time the spa will appear idle.
  • Allow the spa to circulate on high speed for an additional four to five minutes to discharge air from the plumbing system.
  • Do not expect hot water immediately from the jets. After the spa is covered, it may take between 12-24 hours to heat the water to its operating temperature.

Remember to install spa filters: If you have a backup set of clean filters on hand to use while the primary filters are being cleaned and air dried, install them now. Otherwise, reinstall the primary filters after cleaning and air drying. Ensure filters are properly installed according to the owner’s manual.

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Balance the Water

QUICK TIP: For Marquis hot tubs and ATV™ swim spas, the factory default water temperature setting is 100°F (38°C). But you can adjust this up or down based on your preferences. The maximum temperature setting is 104°F (40°C).

Once spa water reaches its operating temperature:

  • Reinstall the sanitizer and conditioning cartridges (if applicable), or manually add sanitizer granules according to the product instructions. Allow sufficient time for sanitizer to circulate.
  • Test the total alkalinity. The target range is 80 to 140 parts-per-million (ppm). Use the appropriate Marquis balancer as needed.
  • Test the pH balance. The target range is 7.4 to 7.6 pH. Use the appropriate Marquis balancer as needed.
  • Test the total hardness. The target range is 150 to 250 ppm. Use the appropriate Marquis balancer or five-stage pre-filter as needed.
  • Test the sanitizer level. Make any necessary adjustments according to your sanitizer’s product instructions.
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Enjoy the Benefits

A thorough cleaning every three to four months takes a bit of elbow grease. But it gives you a tremendous feeling of accomplishment, and knowing your spa is well maintained gives you peace of mind. Your family and friends will benefit from your attentiveness, your water chemistry will be much easier to maintain, and your spa will continue to perform for many years to come.

All that remains is to reward yourself with a nice hot soak. Grab your favorite beverage, turn the jets on high, and immerse yourself in soothing relaxation. After all, you’ve earned it!


What is the best thing to clean a hot tub with? ›

Whilst it is tempting to use your favorite cleaning products on your hot tub, All you actually need is water and a little bit of vinegar. Using harsh cleaning products will result in foamy water when you re-fill your hot tub. A product such as The Tub Scrubber can be used to remove any residual waterline build up.

What do you clean a swim spa with? ›

Swim spa water maintenance tips

You do need to use chemicals to keep your swim spa water clean. Owners should have products like a pH increaser, foam down and chlorine granules on hand so they can resolve issues quickly.

Can you use baking soda and vinegar to clean a hot tub? ›

For really hard to remove stains, you can make a pasty solution of white vinegar and baking soda and apply with a soft sponge whiel scrubbing gently. Never use steel wool or abrasive pads on your hot tub. Wipe the solution and any remaining residue away with a damp cloth.

What kills bacteria in hot tubs? ›

Chlorine is added to the water to kill germs. But it does not work right away. If used properly, free chlorine* can kill most germs within a few minutes. CDC recommends pH 7.2–7.8 and a free chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas.

How do you clean the bottom of a hot tub without draining it? ›

Use a soft brush to scrub off any film and dirt, then use a skim net and a spa vacuum to remove the debris. A large hose can also be used as a siphon vacuum, by filling the hose with water, capping one end, and pulling it down to a point lower than the other end.

How often should I drain my hot springs hot tub? ›

Draining and refilling your spa will be an important aspect of spa ownership. Many spas need to be drained and refilled every three to four months due to chemical build-up.

Where is the best place to drain a hot tub? ›

Your hot tub comes equipped with a drain spigot, which is located on the outside of the tub, near the bottom rim. (Some models have two spigots, a primary and an auxiliary. The primary spigot is the one you'll use to drain the hot tub; the auxiliary one is for bleeding the internal lines.)

Does vinegar clean hot tub filters? ›

Pros: Cleaning hot tub filters with vinegar is effective at removing the scale or mineral salt deposits since vinegar is a weak acid. Vinegar is also safe for skin exposure once the filter is back in the hot tub.

Can you clean a hot tub filter with Dawn dish soap? ›

Every three to four months, the water should be changed in the hot tub, the perfect time to soak the filter in a chemical solution made specifically for filters. Never use bleach, dishwater detergent, or other household cleaners.

Can I use Windex to clean my hot tub? ›

We recommend cleaning products such as 409, Windex, or a light bleach cleaner. 409 is one of our favorites if you have a scum line, the degreaser in it helps to cut through that scum quite quickly and easily.

Can you use Simple Green to clean a hot tub? ›

Spray the entire surface with full strength Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner. Scrub the entire tub with a nylon scrub brush or non-abrasive scrubbing pad. This will agitate and help loosen the dirt and grime to ensure a squeaky clean, residue-free surface. Thoroughly rinse the tub with warm water and allow to dry.

Can you use magic eraser on hot tub? ›

Magic Erasers

Hot tub owners can use the sponges to clean any grime or build-up on the shell of their hot tubs. You can also gently wipe down the touch screen panels and use it to remove stubborn dirt on the skirting.

How do I keep my hot tub water crystal clear? ›

How to Keep Spa Water Crystal Clear
  1. Check Chemical Levels Regularly.
  2. Test and Treat Spa Water Weekly.
  3. Skim Daily.
  4. Vacuum the Spa Weekly.
  5. Brush Every Week.
  6. Monitor Water Levels.
  7. Test Regularly.
  8. Hire a Service Professional.
Sep 1, 2021

Should I use vinegar to clean my hot tub? ›

Vinegar includes no harmful chemicals. It cleans and deodorizes, and is naturally safe to use around people and pets. Vinegar can help prevent clogs in your hot tub jets, eliminate bacteria, and clean away water spots and other residue.

What soap do you use to clean a hot tub? ›

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.

What temperature does bacteria grow in a hot tub? ›

Hot tubs operate within the favorable growth range for Legionella (77–113°F, 25–45°C). Additional measures are required to control Legionella. Water should not exceed 104°F (40°C) to prevent scalding.

Is hydrogen peroxide good for hot tubs? ›

Although hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizer and has disinfection properties, it is not well suited for regular use to treat hot tub water. Hot tubs require a reliable sanitizer that is going to be present in the water when the tub is used by bathers.


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