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:

As a general rule, hot tub filters last at least 1 year and up to 2 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 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 should be changed every 2 years if they get rinsed every 3 weeks and deep cleaned every 3 months. With less sporadic cleaning, changing the filters every 12 months is best.

Replacing worn filters is one of the best ways to ensure your water stays crystal 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.

And an old filter may also begin to flake off some of the plastic housing. So if you see small blue flakes in your water, you know it’s time for new ones.

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?

The best way to clean hot tub filters is to rinse under hot water with a kitchen sink sprayer every 3 weeks. Then every 3 months, use Spa Depot Power Soak and soak the filters in hot water in a 5-gallon bucket for 1 hour. Then rinse off and put them back in.

CLICK HERE to see Power Soak on Amazon.

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.

Let’s review both the rinse and the deep soak:

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.

CLICK HERE to see Power Soak on Amazon.

Can you run a hot tub without a filter?

A hot tub will operate without a filter, but should not be operated without a filter longer than 1 hour. Without a filter, it’s easy for debris to create clogs in the plumbing and in the jets which can lead to costly repairs.

So 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.

Or just when doing the 1-hour deep chemical soak of your filters.

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?

The signs your hot tub filter need to be replaced include:

  • The water is dirtier than normal
  • You see small blue flakes in the water which can flake off from the plastic housing of the filter
  • The paper pleats are torn

But really every 2 years is about right if you clean them regularly.

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 let’s review those tips in greater detail:

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?

Rinse hot tub filters off with a kitchen sink sprayer every 3 weeks. Then do a deep chemical soak of the filters every 3 months. Doing both on schedule will allow most filters to get up to 24 months of life before needing to be replaced.

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

So why not do the deep chemical soak at the same time? I went into the steps for that in one of the above sections. But essentially you’ll just soak them for 1 hour in a 5-gallon bucket with some Spa Depot Power Soak from Amazon.

Then rinse them off and put them back in as you fill the hot tub back up.

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.

Final thoughts

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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