How to Dispose of Spa Filter Cleaner – 7 Simple Steps

Properly disposing of the hot tub chemicals are very important for the environment. But most chemicals just get added to the water. Spa filter cleaner, however, does not. That leaves us wondering how to dispose of spa filter cleaner.

To dispose of spa filter cleaner, don’t just pour it down the drain or on your lawn. Many brands of spa filter cleaners contain sodium carbonate which is considered a poison. It needs to have its pH neutralized first, and then it can be flushed with warm water down the drain or to an inconspicuous part of your yard.

While they are necessary to keep your pool clean, they must be stored and disposed of properly! Besides, chemicals like chlorine and sulfuric acid are common among most cleaners. 

So keep reading to know how to get rid of these chemicals and more. 

What should I do with filter cleaner after I’ve cleaned my filters?

Every three months, I clean my hot tub filters in a 5-gallon bucket with about four capfuls of a cleaner called Power Soak (click to see the current price on Amazon).

I use hot water which means it only takes 1 hour. But some prefer the gentler clean that comes with using cold water. Doing that requires an overnight soak.

Either way though, when I’m done, I have to dump that water out somewhere.

While it is enzyme-based, it’s still not a great idea to just dump it down the drain or pour it on your lawn. It’s not so much because of the cleaner’s ingredients, as much as everything that gets released from your filter, including things like chlorine, bromine, and other hot tub chemicals.

The actual ingredients of Power Soak are sodium carbonate, sodium silicate, and enzymes.

Pretty simple, right? While sodium bicarbonate is regular baking soda, sodium carbonate is sometimes called soda ash or washing soda. You’ll frequently see it used in green cleaning products. Sodium silicate is non-toxic.

While only mildly toxic, sodium carbonate is considered a poison (source), so it should be disposed of accordingly.

Here’re the steps to dispose of spa filter cleaner:

  1. Wear eye covering & gloves
  2. Avoid breathing it in or letting it splash on your skin
  3. Neutralize the pH by adding water and vinegar. The biggest issue with going down the drain is the pH
  4. Test the water mixture with a test strip to ensure the pH is in the middle (ideal pH is 7.0)
  5. Do not pour the mixture on plants, grass, near trees, bushes, or flowers
  6. Avoid pouring near streams/lakes/rivers as it will be toxic to marine life
  7. You can pour down the drain slowly while also running warm water

Can I pour hot tub filter cleaning solution down the drain?

You should not pour hot tub filter cleaning solution directly down the drain after cleaning your filter.

As mentioned in the steps above, first neutralize the pH with water and vinegar. Your regular hot tub test strip is a great way to check the pH and make sure it is right in the middle.

Then, it’s safe to either pour down the drain or (a better option) a discrete area of your yard away from grass, plants, flowers, etc. I’m lucky in that the yard around my hot tub is mostly rocks and dirt with almost no grass or vegetation.

But hot tub filter cleaner, like all spa and pool chemicals, are dangerous when not properly stored or disposed of. They can cause skin irritation, release poisonous gases, or even an explosion or fire. If dumped in the backyard, they contaminate the soil and groundwater.

Contrary to what I’ve seen elsewhere on the internet (especially Pinterest), a dishwasher is NOT a good alternative for cleaning your filters!

To learn more about why that’s so bad and some better alternatives are, read this recent article. Just click the link to read it on my site.

Will hot tub filter cleaning solution kill grass?

Yes, the hot tub filter cleaning solution can definitely harm your grass.

Not so much because it’s so toxic (assuming you use the same product I do). But the high pH of the water is not good for the grass.

So you must never pour any hot tub chemical onto your lawn directly. They may even get into the water supply, potentially causing even more harm.

Now cleaning your filter is one thing. But every so often, you’ll want to replace your filter too.

If you don’t know how often you should change your hot tub filter, read this recent article. I always say 1-2 years, but several things need to happen if you want to extend your filter life to two years. Just click that link to read it on my site.

But aside from spa filters and cleaners, also remember to properly dispose of all spa chemicals and the hot tub water itself too.

After all, you should be draining & refilling your hot tub every 3-4 months. Follow these instructions to remove your hot tub water safely.

  1. Cut power to the hot tub
  2. Uncover the front panel on your hot tub and find the hose spigot (or use a submersible pump as I do)
  3. Find a safe spot such as your driveway to drain the water. But do not drain the water on your lawn, near trees, flowers, or your neighbor’s lawn
  4. Attach a garden hose to the spigot and let the water drain
  5. Once the water flow has stopped, use a shop-vac to clean up the rest of the water in the hot tub. Then towel-dry the bottom of the hot tub

If you are going to drain your hot tub water, refrain from adding chlorine or any other chemicals into your hot tub water for two days.

Is spa filter cleaner toxic?

Ultimately it depends on the brand of cleaner you use.

Many types of spa filter cleaner certainly are toxic. As I mentioned above, I use a cleaner called Power Soak (click to see the current price on Amazon). The ingredients of Power Soak are sodium carbonate, sodium silicate, and enzymes.

So technically, none of those ingredients are super-toxic.

Of those ingredients, sodium carbonate is considered a poison though (source), so it should be considered at least mildly toxic.

Like any harsh chemical, you should not pour it directly down the drain or on the grass. The pH needs to be neutralized first following the steps we outlined above. Then, and only then, would it be OK to pour down a drain while running warm water.

Even with a neutral pH, I would probably still avoid pouring it directly on grass, plants, or near tree roots, just to be safe.

How do you dispose of spa chemicals?

If you need to dispose of an unused spa filter cleaner, chlorine, bromine, or spa pH or alkalinity chemicals, here are some ideas on what you must do.

Many different places can help you by either taking your chemicals or pointing you in the right direction of someone or somewhere that will.

1.   Use Them In Your Pool

Even if the chemicals are old or expired, use some in your pool. The potency and effectiveness of the chemical might not be 100%. But it will still do the job even if you have to add a little more than normal.

2.   You Could Donate Your Chemicals To Another Hot Tub or Pool Owner

If you know a hot tub or pool owner nearby, you could give them your excess or old chemicals. It might just be what they need!

You could even donate it to a local community pool if you don’t know anyone who needs them.

3.   Give the Chemicals to a Pool or Hot Tub Company

Many pools or hot tub companies will accept old or unneeded chemicals if the container they are in is in good condition.

Even if they don’t use the chemicals, they know how to dispose of them properly.

4.   Call and Ask Your Local Waste Management Department

They should be able to direct you on how and where you can take your excess chemicals for disposal.

Some communities have community clean up events. These may be days once or twice a year, where residents bring items that cannot be disposed of in the trash to be adequately disposed of.

Finally, you may also be able to bring your chemicals to a local hazardous waste facility if there is one in your area.

Final Thoughts

So let’s recapture all that we learned here. Pool chemicals are dangerous when not properly stored or disposed of. They can cause many different issues, such as skin irritation, the release of poisonous gases, environmental damage, or even an explosion or fire.

You must always correctly store or dispose of these chemicals. 

Luckily most brands of spa filter cleaner aren’t highly toxic. It mostly needs to have the pH neutralized and then be diluted with warm water.

But when in doubt, pour in an inconspicuous part of your yard away from plants, trees, grass, and flowers.

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Jeff Campbell