Without the appropriate care, your hot tub can crack or split in extreme cold—and then you’ll have no place to unwind from the stress of having it repaired. Either properly winterize the hot tubs before the freezing temperatures set in, or they need to run all winter to prevent the water from freezing and damaging the pipes.

In either case, hot tub maintenance involves regular cleanings, which—some homeowners may be surprised to know—doesn’t always necessitate the use of harsh chemical cleaners. Read on for winterizing and eco-friendly cleaning tips for year-round care.

Power Down for Winter

A hot tub frozen over in the coldAs far as your electric bill is concerned, powering down the hot tub is the best choice to combat the effects of winter weather. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Allow bromine and chlorine levels to reach zero.
  2. Drain the pool into a sewer or a part of the yard that will not readily conduct runoff to streams or storm drains, as even trace chemical levels are pollutants.
  3. Use a spa wand to vacuum out excess water from your jets and drain pipes.
  4. Clean the hot tub in its entirety. A scrub brush, a basic-pH soap, and a little elbow grease will get the job done.
  5. Cover the hot tub to protect it from the elements.

Be sure to remove as much water from the pipes as possible. Water expands as it freezes, which may cause the plastic infrastructure of the tub to crack.

Prevent Heat from Escaping

Water loses heat quickly, especially in a cold environment, so keeping your hot tub covered is necessary to improve its efficiency if it’s going to run all winter. Some homeowners may also choose to invest in a thermal blanket to conserve heat and keep the power bill low. Thermal blankets float under the hot tub cover to prevent heat transfer.

Clean Without Chemicals

A hot tub wreathed in snow, under the night skyHot tubs have long carried a stigma for being germy or unsanitary. As such, are often treated with harsh, corrosive chemicals to keep them clean, but they don’t have to be.

  • Sphagnum moss affords a natural way to clean your hot tub without chlorine or bromide, which means that any water drainage will be harmless to the environment. Many home improvement stores offer sphagnum-based cleaners for spa use.
  • Ultraviolet light is an effective water purifier. Exposing the filtering water to sunlight can help disinfect it naturally, but leaving the cover open for long periods of time should only be done during milder months. For a winter-proof and chemical-free cleaning method, some spa owners choose to install an ultraviolet disinfection system within the piping of their tub. In fact, due to the benefits of lower chlorine concentrations, some states now require these systems.

Retiring your hot tub all winter long isn’t necessary (although it will save you a significant amount in energy expenses), and neither is using chemical cleaners to disinfect your spa. Modern spa equipment, like thermal blankets and UV lamp systems, makes it easy to keep your hot tub hot without wasting excess energy and clean without using harmful chemicals.