Here’s How To Drain a Hot Tub

Updated: Jun. 07, 2023

Time to change your hot tub water? Before you pull the plug, check out our step-by-step guide.

When we owned an inflatable hot tub, we drained it periodically to give it a good cleaning and change the water. (Pros recommend doing this at least every two months.) Luckily, we had a runoff pipe nearby that funneled the water into our cistern, which we drew from to irrigate our lawn and garden.

That was an easy solution. But not everyone has a nearby runoff pipe, a cistern or a conveniently located hot tub — or for that matter, an outdoor hot tub.

Here’s how to drain a hot tub the right way, depending on location and setup.

How To Drain a Hot Tub

You can drain hot tub water onto your lawn or garden, or possibly into a municipal storm drain (more on that below). You could also use it for other outside chores, like washing your car. Just make sure you have a plan before pulling the plug.

Tools and materials to drain a hot tub

  • Garden hose: Unless your hot tub directly connects to your home’s sewer system, you’ll need a standard garden hose long enough to reach the storm drain, garden or other drainage area. Make sure you have the right size hose fitting to connect to the hot tub drain.
  • Submersible pump: This may be optional, unless your hot tub sits lower than the intended drainage point. But a submersible pump will speed up drainage while defying gravity, pumping water up and out. Some pumps come with hoses that can be used for draining pools, pool covers and flooded basements as well.
  • Mop, towels and utility bucket: You’ll need these to remove any water left in the bottom after the tub drains.
  • Hot tub cleaner: Choose a surface cleaner specially made for pool and hot tub surfaces.

Hot tub draining step-by-step

Step 1: Wait

No matter what kind of tub you have or how you plan to drain it, the first thing you need to do is … nothing!

For three to four days prior to draining, leave the tub uncovered and turned off. Stay out of it and definitely don’t add any chemicals. You want the chlorine to dissipate entirely and for pH levels to reach neutral, or about seven to eight parts per million (ppm). This makes the water safe for draining into gardens, lawns and public run-off areas.

Step 2: Disconnect power to the hot tub

It’s easiest to do this at the circuit breaker.

Step 3: Choose the run-off area

Before you pull the plug, decide where the water will go. If you plan to use the water to irrigate a lawn or garden, make sure that one area doesn’t become too saturated. So, while draining, plan to move the hose from time to time so you don’t flood one area.

If you’re draining into a public runoff, check with the local wastewater management agency first, even if hot tub test strips confirm your water is safe to dispose of. Keep in mind it’s easiest to drain to an area that’s at least slightly downhill from the hot tub.

Step 4: Hook up the hose

Connect the hose to the tub’s outside drain valve, and extend the hose to the storm drain or lawn area you’re draining to. (If you’re using the water to wash the car, gather your cleaning supplies and drag the hose near the car.)

Going with submersible pump? Hook the hose directly to the pump, not the outside valve on the tub.

Step 5: Pull the plug

Your hot tub has an interior drain plug somewhere on the bottom. Once you’ve securely attached and placed the hose, open this plug and let the water start to drain.

Step 6: Clean up

Unless you’re using a submersible pump or a wet/dry shop vacuum, you’ll find a little water on bottom of the drained tub. Scoop out as much as you can with the bucket, then get after the rest with the mop and rags. Dry the surface, then apply the surface cleaner and give the tub a good scrubbing.

Step 7: Refill the hot tub.

But wait! Make sure you’ve disconnected the hose and tightly closed all valves and plugs. Then refill the tub, making sure it doesn’t overflow. Add bromine or chlorine, let the sanitizer disperse in the water, and enjoy!