How Long Does a Hot Tub Filter Last?

Hot tubs don’t require a lot of maintenance. However, not cleaning and replacing your filter(s) is asking for trouble with your hot tub. Cleaning is one thing, but how long does a hot tub filter last?

Here’s what I know from owning 4 different hot tubs:

Hot tub filters last between one and two years. That range depends on how often you clean it, how thoroughly you clean it, and how often you use your hot tub. Rinsing them off every 3-4 weeks, and doing a deep chemical soak every 3 months will increase the life of the hot tub filters.

However, there are many ways to maximize the life of your hot tub filters and the hot tub itself. So I will guide you about the when to clean, how to clean, and other related issues. 

Keep on reading to learn more about your hot tub filters.


How often should you change the filter in a hot tub?

Generally speaking, hot tub filters last between one and two years. Of course, it all depends on how well your filter is cleaned, how often you clean it, and how often you use your hot tub.

A hot tub filter should be replaced every year to help keep the water fresh and clear. The hot tub filter should also be regularly inspected and cleaned to avoid any build-up of debris. Heavily used hot tubs may need the filters to be changed more frequently.

Remember, a dirty filter can make your hot tub to become a health hazard, as well as potentially damage the hot tub itself. Understanding the few basics below is the key to avoiding problems.

If the chemicals or filter aren’t doing their job correctly, then the water can become smelly, discolored, and unpleasant. Not only can this be damaging to the hot tub itself, but you will also not be able to receive all the hot tub benefits. 

What is the best way to clean a hot tub filter?

Hot tub filters don’t last forever.

Filters should be replaced or cleaned regularly. Body oils, soap, detergent, sweat, and other matter trapped by hot tub filters need to be broken down with a solvent. Filters should be cleaned thoroughly, at the very least every 3-4 weeks.

Quick Clean – Every 3-4 weeks

To best clean your hot tub filter, you should remove and rinse your filter with running water under a hose or kitchen sprayer. I like the kitchen sprayer so I can use warm water.

Gently spread the paper pleats apart with your fingers and really get in between each one to release any dirt, grime, or hair. When cleaning your filter, never use a high-pressure power washer on it.

Tempted to just throw your hot tub filter in a dishwasher?

That’s not a great idea, and it could ruin your filter. To see why, and to find a few alternatives that make filter cleaning even easier, check out this recent article.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Deep Clean – every 3 months

Then, every three months, your filter will need to be removed and soaked in a specialized chemical solution.

You can soak in cold water (with the cleaning solution) overnight for 24 hours. Or you can soak in hot water for 1 hour. Cold water is gentler on the filter and can help extend the lifespan.

A good tip is to have a backup filter available to use when you are cleaning your primary filter with cold water. This way, you can still enjoy the hot tub while the other filter is being cleaned. And it means the hot tub water will still get filtered while your main filter is out of commission.

To keep your hot tub filters working at an optimal level, you need to remove:

  • Dirt
  • Debris
  • Body oils
  • Skin flakes
  • Hair
  • Chemical residue
  • Bacteria 

The easy way to do this is by using a product called Power Soak (click to see on Amazon) when you do your 3-month deep clean soaks.

I just use a 5-gallon bucket (like the kind you get at Home Depot). Just add 1 cup of the powder (I have 2 filters) in hot water. I use hot water so I can be done in an hour.

Then I rinse thoroughly afterward and put them back in.

The package does say to air dry them. But I’m assuming that they are assuming you have a backup set. I can’t think of any reason to let something wet air dry before you get it wet again.

Can you run a hot tub without a filter?

Yes, you can run the hot tub without a filter. 

But you should only do this for purposes of testing the heater to see if the filter is the cause of the heater not turning on. Or to see if the filter is the reason for low water flow through your system.

The water will not be filtered, so it’s best not to use a spa without a cartridge in place for healthy and clear spa water. 

After all, the filter removes gunk from the water like body oils, dead skin cells, hair, leaves, etc. Without a filter, that stuff just flows through your pipes and into the pump and heater. Over time, those things can end up lodged in the equipment.

That can damage or destroy your equipment over time.

How can you tell when it’s time to change your hot tub filter?

You should follow the recommendation of changing your hot tub filter every 1-2 years.

If you know you aren’t as on top of the regular cleanings as you should be, just plan and budget to replace them annually.

But if you’re just going off the filter visually, here’s how to know:

1. Dirty water

To begin with, a major sign you need to clean your hot tub filter is when the water in the hot tub isn’t clear.

Remember, this could also be happening because of an incorrect chemical balance. However, if the hot tub filter is clogged or dirty, the flow of water will be impeded, and the water will cloud up more quickly.

2. The filter still looks dirty after cleaning

Another sign that you need to change your hot tub filter is when you clean the filter, you can’t get it really clean.

Even after using a cleaning solution for your deep soak, the filter is still brown, dingy, or greasy. In this case, you need a replacement. Heavy calcium buildup (from hard water) is also a clear sign).

3. Low water flow

Third, if you are experiencing restricted water flow, that is a sign that you need a replacement filter.

Reduced water flow is when there is a difference between the pressure of the water going into the filter and the water coming out of it. If there is a big difference, then the filter is blocked or clogged up and needs a good clean or change.

Finally, if the filter seems to get blocked more easily and you need to clean it more often, that means you need a new water filter.

How often should I clean my hot tub filter?

Climate and hot tub usage will be the main reason you will need to clean your hot tub filter.

The more you use your spa or, the warmer the climate, the more you will need to clean your spa. However, a good rule of thumb for cleaning your hot tub filter is once every two weeks. To do this, simply remove your filter from the tub.

Then give the spa filter a thorough rinsing with your hot tub filter cleaning wand. You don’t need any soaps or cleaners to do this, but make sure you get in between all the pleats on the filter where the deposits often build up.

Ideally, you should change the water in your hot tub every three months.

You should perform a more thorough cleaning of your filter at this time as well. To do this, you will rinse the filter as before with the routine cleaning and then soak your hot tub filter overnight in a non-foaming solution that is designed for cartridge hot tub filters.

Rinse it again and let it dry before reinstalling. It’s a good idea to keep two filters on hand at all times. This way, you can always have a clean filter ready to install when it comes time to give your hot tub a thorough cleaning.

Remember that poor filtration can cause many issues, such as cloudy, smelly, or foamy hot tub water. However, these can also be caused by poor water chemistry. Use a chemical test kit to check the pH levels. Water with a pH level that is greater than 7.8 ppm (parts per million) has too much pH in it.

A great tool for getting long hair and debris out of your filter!

While you can just use your garden hose to clean the filter, one tool I’ve found that was awesome is using a cleaning attachment on the end of your garden hose. This makes it incredibly easy to remove hair, leaves, and other gunk that gets caught in the filter.

That amazing product is called a Filter Flosser (click to see it on Amazon) and it’s the best-rated product of that type on Amazon (there are many with terrible reviews).

It just screws onto the end of your garden hose. It’s curved like your filter and has a bunch of little jets to get in-between the folds of the paper pleats.

Just click that link to see the current price on Amazon.

I hope this was beneficial in clearing your doubt about how long hot tub filters last!

The most important thing to ensure that your hot tub continues to provide you relief from physical and mental stress is to take care of its filters. Irrespective of the type, hot tub filters filter out particles and give you the perfect crystal clear water chemistry. 

If your hot tub water is not clear, that is a sign of a possible issue with your hot tub filter.

Check your filter and clean it. To clean your filter, you should remove and rinse your filter with running water under a hose or sink tap. You can also purchase a cartridge filter cleaning device, which helps clean the filter more thoroughly. Ideally, you should clean your filter every week or two weeks.

Therefore, a hot tub filter should be replaced every 12 months to help keep the water fresh and clear. Besides, it should also be regularly inspected and cleaned to avoid any build-up of debris.

Photos which require attribution:

Hot tub! by eileenmak 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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