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Home Hot Tubs Hot Tub Maintenance 9 Steps to Winterize a Hot Tub (+ mistakes to avoid) properly

9 Steps to Winterize a Hot Tub (+ mistakes to avoid) properly

Is winterizing your hot tub freaking you out? Be sure to follow our easy 9 step guide so you can get into a clean and safe tub after the winter.

Winter is coming. High time to prepare your hot tub for frost, but the question is, how do you do it properly? Should you use an antifreeze? Is winterization needed? Winterization may seem confusing, but through our quick guide, you will find answers to all your questions. As a bonus, we will show you some tricks which will help to make the winterization process maximally effective.

Let’s make your hot tub ready for “hibernation” in just a few easy steps!

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Why you should winterize a hot tub

A lot of people wonder whether they need to winterize a hot tub. Our verdict is to winterize a hot tub. Proper winterization prevents your hot tub from being damaged. The water in the pipes freezes if the temperature drops below 32°F, frozen water (ice) expands, and when there is no space left, the pipes can crack because of the pressure.

You may have also read that instead of winterizing the tub, it is advised to keep a hot tub running at low speed or in “sleep mode”. Although it may work, it has a lot of pitfalls.

  • Firstly, your hot tub will need to be well looked-after (test the water, sanitize, clean, and pay bills).
  • Secondly, you will have to keep an eye on the water temperature. If the water is not warm enough, it will freeze and lead to damages. This means that you will not be able to travel somewhere for a few weeks. If the outside temperature drops dramatically, the water may freeze. Frozen water will lead to leaks and cracks in pipes.

So, is it worth it? Not really. It’s more beneficial and practical to spend several hours to winterize your hot tub properly.

Winterize a hot tub step-by-step:

While preparing a hot tub for winter looks a lot like quartal cleaning, there are some factors that you should pay attention to.

Before starting, make sure you have all the necessary equipment:

Flush line product

It helps to get rid of dirt accumulated in pipes.

Garden hose

Essential for draining a hot tub. Used as a separate draining method and together with a sump pump.

Sump pump (optional)

To make draining efficient and quick (on average drains water in 10 minutes), removes water from hard-to-reach places.


It works like a vacuum cleaner and helps to get rid of water remains.

Filter soak product

Provides deep cleaning of the filter and prolongs its lifespan.

Cover cleaner

Helps to remove the dirt accumulated on the hot tub cover and protects from harmful UV rays.

Non-abrasive cloth

Absorbs moisture from hot tub surfaces without scratching them.

Propylene Glycol antifreeze solution

A safe and non-toxic way to protect the pipes from freezing.

1. Flush the lines

This procedure will help to get rid of the dirt and biofilm accumulated in the pipes. You can rest assured that the pipes will not become a hub for bacteria over time if you don’t use your hot tub.

To clean the pipes you just need to remove the filter and add flush line product (relative to the hot tub’s volume). Let it circulate at high speed for 30 minutes or leave it overnight at low speed. And that’s all, the pipes will be clean.

 ❗ Note: You may notice gross-looking foam, it indicates that the flush line product works and removes all the biofilm and bacteria.

SeaKlear Spa System Flush

Price range: $

Designed to clean the plumbing system
Compatible with all hot tubs
No harsh chemicals

2. Turn off the power

Before draining water make sure that the hot tub is turned off to eliminate the risk of danger. Besides safety reasons, this step is essential in preventing the pump motor from breaking. The pump motor may suffer damage if it operates in an empty hot tub.

3. Drain out the water

You can drain water with a garden hose or using a sump pump. We highly recommend draining with a sump pump before winterization since it is the most efficient way to remove water; it deals with water in even hard-to-reach places such as the footwell and seats. Besides that, the sump pump is the quickest method to drain water which takes approximately 10 minutes.

Where to drain hot tub water? You can drain it in the sewer system or on grass (only if the water is balanced — pH level is in the range of 7.2 – 7.8; Total Alkalinity is 80 – 150 ppm). Never drain water in storm drains, it can be dangerous for the environment.

Drain water with a garden hose

  1. Find a drain plug at the bottom or in the corner of your hot tub;
  2. Tightly attach a garden hose;
  3. Check whether your hot tub model has an auxiliary plug if there is one, use it to get rid of water from the plumbing system;
  4. Run the hose to the place you are going to drain the water;
  5. Open the ball valve and drain the water.

Drain water with a sump pump

  1. Attach a garden hose to a sump pump;
  2. Place a sump pump at the deepest place in your hot tub;
  3. Run the hose’s open end to the draining place;
  4. Turn it on and start draining;

Garden hose

Price range: $

Slower method to drain water;

Leak-free and durable;

Sump Pump

Price range: $$

The quickest way to drain hot tub;
Highly efficient at draining water from hard-to-reach places;

4. Loosen the unions

Locate the pump and heater of your hot tub. Unions connect the pump and heater to the spa’s pipework, some water may accumulate in the plumbing system while pumping the water. If you loosen the unions, the remaining water from the plumbing system will drain.

5. Remove and soak the filter in chemicals

It is essential to ensure that the filter is free from organic contaminants and bacteria before winterizing. Otherwise, after a winter break, you will be unpleasantly surprised with the filter’s performance, it will be dirty and all this dirt may come into the freshly refilled water.

To prepare the filter for winterization, you should remove it, mix the filter soak product with water per instructions, and let it soak for 1 hour. Rinse it with clear water and let it dry. Once the filter is dry you can insert it in the hot tub.

SpaDepot Filter cleaner

Price range: $

Deep filter cleaning
Removes contaminants (cosmetics, dirt)
Works with all types of sanitizing systems

6. Remove the excess water

To blow out the pipes and remove the excess water in hard-to-reach places, you should use a Shop-Vac (also called Wet-Vac). Even if you drained the water with a sump pump some water may remain in the pipes and the hot tub shell, Shop-Vac works like a vacuum cleaner and removes the excess water. It can also remove dirt from a hot tub shell and make the process of cleaning the shell much quicker.

You should open the jets, insert the hose of the Shop-Vac into the nozzle of each jet, and absorb water. Start with the jets and then move downwards.

Stanley Shop-Vac

Price range: $$$

Removes every last bit of water from the hot tub
Wet and Dry Vacuum perfect for household application
Large capacity (6 gallons)

7. Clean the shell

High time to clean the shell after draining. Now, when a hot tub is empty, you can see all the dirt accumulated and easily remove it.

To clean the shell, you just need to apply shell cleaning spray and gently clean it with a non-abrasive cloth. Such a simple cleaning procedure will ensure that the hot tub shell will not become a breeding spot for bacteria.

EcoOne Shell Cleaner

Price range: $

Maintains and increases the lifespan of your hot tub
Effectively breaks down dirt and contaminants
Quick dissolving and completely safe
Compatible with all surfaces (acrylic, vinyl, fiberglass).

8. Pour antifreeze solution

You may come across a lot of comments against the use of antifreeze solution, but we highly recommend adding it due to one simple reason — you won’t probably get rid of all the water in the hot tub even if you drain it with a sump pump and use a Shop-Vac. The antifreeze solution is like a “safety bag” which prevents any leaks after winterization.

There are two things you should keep in mind while using antifreeze. The first is that you should use only Propylene Glycol. Adding automobile antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) is certainly a bad idea, it is toxic and can damage your hot tub. The second thing is removing the antifreeze, jump to the section with de-winterization to get to know how to do it properly. If you leave antifreeze in the pipes when it is warm outside, you can get nasty mold and algae.

Propylene Glycol

Price range: $

Non-toxic antifreeze solution
Reliable protection even in a harsh environment

9. Clean the cover and secure it

You should clean the cover to prevent bacteria growth over time because these bacteria may get into a hot tub’s shell and result in health problems. 

The specially designed product will remove any dirt and protect a cover from UV rays. Don’t forget to ensure that the cover is secured before winterization to prevent living creatures from getting into your hot tub.

Leisure Time Cover Care and Conditioner

Price range: $

Effectively removes dirt
Protects from UV rays
Works with all sanitizers

Tricks to make winterization maximally efficient

The following tips are extremely useful for those who live in areas with constantly low outside temperatures (below 32°F) and frequent snowfalls.

Winterize before the frost arrives.

If you decide to start the process of preparing the hot tub for winter when the temperature is already below 32°F, the water in the pipes can freeze. Frozen water will result in cracks. It is better to plan the winterization process so you are not in for a nasty surprise.

Cover the hot tub cover with a few pieces of plywood.

This advice will be helpful for those who live in areas with heavy winters. The plywood will help evenly distribute the weight of snow and ice and your hot tub cover will not get damaged.

Cover the spa with a watertight tarp.

The hot tub cover itself is a great insulator, however, it can allow some precipitation to enter the hot tub. For this reason, we recommend covering the spa with a watertight tarp while winterized.

De-winterize a hot tub

Hot tub ready to use after a winter nap

Using your hot tub after winter should not be daunting and should involve nothing more than a regular hot tub cleaning. Note that you have to remove the antifreeze solution.

To de-winterize a hot tub correctly you should:

  1. Flush the lines to get rid of any dirt and remaining antifreeze solution.
  2. Remove and soak the filter. It is an essential step before refilling a hot tub. If the filter is dirty; the bacteria and contaminants can get into the hot tub water and cause health problems.
  3. Clean the shell and hot tub cover. Over the winter a lot of dirt may accumulate, so it is better to use specially made products to get rid of the dirt before refilling the hot tub.
  4. Refill the hot tub.
  5. Add a double dose of chlorine to the water, let the water circulate for several hours, drain the water and refill again. This procedure will help to remove any remains of the antifreeze solution.

And that’s all, now you can get in the tub without worry.

Problems that you may face

Pipe leaks.

The most common problem you may face if you winterize a hot tub improperly. Cracks in the pipes appear when the remaining water freezes and has no place to expand. To avoid such a problem, you should blow the lines with a Shop-Vac and then pour an antifreeze solution.

Mold and algae after de-winterization.

You can encounter such a problem in two cases. The first is if you didn’t clean all the parts of your hot tub properly and the second is if you didn’t remove the remaining antifreeze solution. To prevent this, follow our guide on proper winterization (which also includes cleaning the parts) and jump to the de-winterization section.


Winterization is not as difficult as it may seem. It’s a lot like a quarterly cleaning routine but has some extra steps. Once you’ve grasped the step-by-step guide the process is simplified. 

When your hot tub is ready for a long winter nap, you can relax for the winter holidays and be ready to use it again safely in spring.


🌡What outdoor temperature is an indicator that you should winterize your hot tub?

If the temperature in your area drops below 32°F, you should winterize your hot tub, otherwise, water in the pipes can freeze and lead to cracks. To winterize a hot tub correctly, follow our 9 step guide.

❄ Should I leave a hot tub running during the winter?

What is the best robotic pool cleaner to buy? Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus — Good cleaning at an affordable price Polaris Sport Robotic F9550 — Convenience with added benefits While you can turn on the “sleep” mode, you shouldn’t because the hot tub will still be running and you’ll be accountable for electricity bills. You’ll also have to make sure that you stick to a cleaning routine. Therefore, it is better and easier to winterize the hot tub.

🤔 Can I leave my hot tub empty during the winter?

Yes, you can and you should. Don’t forget to use antifreeze and a spa cover and your hot tub can stay empty up to the next season. If you live in an area with harsh winters, in our article we provide you with winterization tricks that will come in handy.

❓Can I put antifreeze in a hot tub?

Yes, we recommend adding the antifreeze solution in your hot tub. Draining all the water is very difficult, the antifreeze will ensure that the remaining water won’t freeze, which leads to cracks in pipes.

☃ What happens if my hot tub freezes?

The hot tub plumbing system suffers the most from freezing. After de-winterizing your hot tub you may find leaks in the pipes. To prevent any damages follow our 9 step guide to winterize the hot tub properly.

Did you like the article? Was it helpful?

1 comment

  1. I do not want to spend extra money on a Stanley Shop-Vac vacuum cleaner. Is it possible to do without it, or replace it with a cheaper device?

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