Can I Use a Shop Vac to Clean My Hot Tub?

Cleaning hot tubs is not as easy as it seems. For starters, you have to drain it. But since draining with a hose or submersible pump don’t drain it completely, many hot tub owners wonder can I use a shop vac to clean my hot tub?

I use one on my hot tub, so here’s what I’ve learned in doing it:

Yes, you can use a shop vac to clean a hot tub. The only caveat is that your shop vac must be Wet/Dry vacuum so that it is able to hold water. A shop vac is a great way to clean the remaining water off the floor of a drained hot tub. But you can also use it to suck water out of the jets.

But, knowing how to drain your hot tub is one thing and knowing how to drain it quickly is another. Draining fast can save a great deal of time in tub maintenance.

Besides, are you aware that there are specific regulations concerning wastewater disposal in your area? And these apply to drain the hot tub for cleaning as well. 

Just keep reading to know all about it and ensure that you don’t mess with local laws in the process.

How to drain and clean a hot tub?

Using the drain plug on the side of your hot tub and a garden hose can take like forever. Hours.

A submersible pump, which is what I use, allows you to drain a hot tub in about 15 minutes. Just make sure to drain it well away from:

  • Plants
  • Trees
  • Flowers
  • The foundation of your house or hot tub
  • Neighbor’s yard

In case you are not sure about all the do’s and don’ts of draining a hot tub, please check out my recent article, where I have explained all the drainage options. Just click that link to read it on my site.

As I mentioned, the quickest method of draining a hot tub for cleaning is to use a submersible pump with a ¾” garden hose. Such a hose can drain up to 30 gallons of water per minute. Therefore, a 450-gallon hot tub can be emptied in as little as fifteen minutes using this method.

CLICK HERE to check out the one I bought on Amazon. I use it on my above-ground pool too!

A hot tub might be laced with bacteria, soap agents, body oils, and other organic matter. These are generally present in the form layers of bio-film on the tub’s surfaces. And while it’s essential to have a product that can break these films down, there are several cleaning products on the market.

Before draining, add the chemical, turn on the tub jets and let it circulate as per the label instructions.  While this is in process, don’t fret if brownish, foamy goop appears on the surface because this means the cleaner is working.

Can you drain a hot tub with a shop vac?

Though not quite as quick as using a submersible pump, by using a shop vac, you can still empty an average-sized hot tub reasonably efficiently.

A large diameter hose makes it easier than a garden hose siphon. The decent thing about using the vacuum hose is that while water is being siphoned out of the tub, you can use the wand end to remove dirt and debris from the floor and seating areas of the tub.

Another quicker method for draining a hot tub is using your wet/dry vacuum to get a siphon started. You drop one end of a long vacuum hose into the bottom of the tub and connect the other end to the wet/dry vacuum.

Turn the Vac on for a few seconds, just long enough to let the hose prime and to get the water flow moving. Then, turn off the vacuum and quickly disconnect the hose. This allows the water to flow out onto the ground or wherever you are draining to.

Can you use a shop vac to clean the bottom of a pool or hot tub?

A shop vac is a vacuum cleaning device that is mainly used in woodwork and construction clean up. It is a high-power suction unit with a motor that sucks up debris, dirt, and a variety of scraps and dust. And comes with a sturdy, large-sized hose and a big container that holds the trash as well.

Therefore it is meant to suck in screws, sawdust, nails, and other smaller objects at construction sites. Yet the same feature can be used to suck leaves and sticks that have found their way into your hot tub. But if you wish to vacuum liquids, you need a wet/dry shop vac for cleaning hot tub, as it is more convenient. 

The liquid vacuuming feature is also handy for your home as it can pick up most spilled liquids from milk to any other viscous liquids. 

Although it is reasonable to use a manual pool vacuum for tub and pool cleaning, you can carry out the final cleaning with a standard wet/dry shop vac.

Some shop vacs come with a separate dry dust bag and a water tank, while some models may have just one container for both. So, it’ll pay to do your research carefully for your requirements.

If I have a submersible pump, do I also need a shop vac?

I have and use both on my hot tub and I can’t imagine only using one or the other.

A portable submersible water pump is a must-have as it can serve as a backup sump pump during power failures. Besides, it is perfect for emptying pools, hot tubs, aquariums, and ponds, among others.

A decent submersible pump must be able to move liquids at up to two thousand gallons per hour.

Though being a capable pool draining device, a submersible pump can still leave a few inches of water in the bottom of the tub. Thus the most efficient manner in which to remove the last vestiges of water is with the wet/dry shop vac.

When the water level goes down, and the siphon is unable to pull out water, put the submersible pump aside. Now hook the hose back up to the wet/dry vacuum to remove the last puddles of water from the tub.

What’s the best wet/dry Vac to use on a hot tub?

While there are many reliable wet/dry vacs on the market, the Craftsman Model CMXEVBE17595 is classified as a functional and dependable heavy-duty shop vacuum. Just click that link to check the current price on Amazon.

It comes with a variety of attachments and is a very well regarded unit. Did I mention it currently has over 1,000 reviews and almost all of them are 5-star??

Free shipping too, of course!

It has a powerful 6.5 peak horsepower motor that provides extra power for more effective cleaning.

Besides, it has a built-in blower port that allows for quick cleaning of leaves and grass clippings outdoors.

And has an oversized drain for convenient removal and emptying of liquids, like from hot tubs.

CLICK HERE to check it out on Amazon and see if it’s not the right one for you!

 

Did I cover all you wanted to know about cleaning a hot tub with a shop vac?

A shop vac is not the fastest way to clean your hot tub but is very useful in mopping up residual moisture, grit, and dirt after the tub has been emptied.

Generally, a hot tub must be drained every few months, depending on its usage and the quality of water. A recent article advises on how often you must drain your tub.

If you do not have a shop vac and are in the market for one, do your homework. Ensure you buy a wet/dry unit if you plan on using the shop vac on your tub.

Besides, before draining your tub, know the local laws on dumping chlorinated water into your yard, or the storm drains. And remember, hot tubs hold a lot of water, so be careful while you handle it. 


Photos which require attribution:

King sized spa by Dave Parker is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, hot tub lover, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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