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How to Clean a Sauna

How to Clean a Sauna

Cleaning your sauna is essential to maintain its longevity and ensure a hygienic sauna experience. To clean a sauna effectively, you should use a damp mop with a disinfectant cleaner for the floors and a mild soapy cloth for the benches. This prevents the buildup of mold and bacteria, enhancing your sauna experience in the heat.

Saunas require special care when it comes to cleaning, especially due to the moist environment which can make them more susceptible to mold. Be mindful not to rub the wood too aggressively, as this can open the pores and degrade the wood more quickly. Regular maintenance, including proper ventilation, is crucial.

Understanding Sauna Types

Different types of saunas offer unique experiences based on their heat source and construction. Choosing the right one for your needs depends on understanding each type's specific benefits and characteristics.

Traditional Steam Saunas

Traditional steam saunas use electric heaters to produce high heat and significant steam. They typically operate at temperatures between 150°F and 195°F with humidity levels reaching up to 30%. The combination of heat and steam helps to open pores, promoting healthy sweating and detoxification.

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas differ from traditional steam saunas by using infrared lamps to directly heat your body instead of the air. This type of sauna typically operates at lower temperatures, around 120°F to 150°F, but can still induce profuse sweating and offer similar health benefits.

Infrared saunas are ideal for those who may find traditional saunas too overwhelming. Finnish Sauna Builders provides customized infrared saunas that can be easily installed in your home, offering a convenient and efficient way to enjoy the benefits of sauna therapy. These saunas use advanced technology to ensure even heat distribution and maximum comfort.

Wood-fired Saunas

Wood-fired saunas are the most traditional type, utilizing a wood-burning stove to heat sauna stones and generate steam. This method delivers a high heat experience, typically reaching temperatures similar to those of steam saunas. The heat from the stove combined with the steam from water poured on hot stones creates a deeply relaxing environment.

These saunas provide a rustic and authentic feel, perfect for outdoor settings. Finnish Sauna Builders offers custom-made wood-fired sauna kits that can be tailored to your specific needs. Our kits are designed for easy installation and come with everything you need to create a cozy, inviting sauna space.

Preparing for Cleaning

Properly preparing to clean your sauna ensures that the process is efficient and effective. You'll need the right materials and to take certain precautions to guarantee both safety and thoroughness.

Gathering Materials

Begin by collecting the essential cleaning materials. You will need a bucket of water, mild detergent or specialized sauna cleaner, soft brushes, a mop, and several towels. A vacuum cleaner can be useful for removing loose dirt and debris.

Use cleaning products that are non-toxic and non-abrasive, as harsh chemicals can damage the wood and affect the sauna's air quality. If you are cleaning a sauna in a gym or hotel, consider obtaining commercial-grade cleaning supplies to handle the higher traffic and usage.

Safety Precautions

Before starting, ensure that the sauna is completely cool to avoid burns or other injuries. Wear gloves to protect your hands from any cleaning solutions and wooden splinters. Make sure to ventilate the room well to avoid inhaling fumes.

Be cautious with fire safety; ensure all electrical items are turned off and any heating elements are cool. It's also a good idea to inspect the sauna for any signs of mold, which is common due to the moist environment. Addressing mold promptly can prevent health issues for users.

Routine Cleaning Process

Maintaining a clean sauna involves proper ventilation, regular sweeping or vacuuming, mopping the floors, and wiping down surfaces. These steps help reduce dirt and humidity build-up, ensuring a healthy environment.


Proper ventilation is crucial in a sauna to manage humidity and keep the air fresh. After each use, open the door and windows, if available, to let out steam and moisture. This reduces the risk of mold and mildew growth, which thrive in humid environments.

You can also incorporate air vents to facilitate airflow, particularly if your sauna does not have windows. Ventilation systems should be checked regularly to ensure they are functioning effectively.

Sweeping or Vacuuming

Regular sauna cleaning includes removing dirt, dust, and debris from the flooring. Use a broom or a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to sweep or vacuum the floor after each use.

Focus on corners and under benches where dust tends to accumulate. This not only keeps the sauna clean but also prepares it for more thorough cleaning steps.

Mopping Floors

Mopping the floors helps remove any remaining dirt and bacteria that sweeping might miss. Use a damp mop with warm water and a mild detergent suitable for wooden surfaces. Avoid using excessive water as it can seep into the wood, causing damage.

Be gentle to prevent opening the wood pores, which can lead to quicker degradation. Regular mopping keeps the floors clean and prolongs the life of the wood.

Wiping Down Surfaces

Wipe down all surfaces in your sauna, including benches, walls, and handles, using a cloth dipped in warm water mixed with a mild detergent. It is essential not to scrub too hard as this can damage the wood finish.

Regularly cleaning surfaces diminishes the build-up of sweat and oils, creating a more pleasant and hygienic experience. 

Deep Cleaning and Disinfection

Deep cleaning your sauna involves focusing on mold and mildew, disinfecting surfaces, and treating stains and dirt. These steps ensure your sauna remains safe, hygienic, and long-lasting.

Targeting Mold and Mildew

Mold thrives in moist environments, making saunas particularly susceptible. To address this, start by airing out the sauna after each use. Utilize a mixture of vinegar and water to clean affected areas—this solution is effective against mold while being gentle on wood surfaces.

For stubborn mold, a diluted bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water) can be used. Apply the solution with a cloth, allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it clean with clean water. Be sure to dry the area thoroughly afterward to avoid leaving any residual moisture.

Disinfecting Surfaces

Disinfecting is crucial to eliminate bacteria and ensure a sanitary sauna environment. Use sauna-specific cleaners or a simple mix of hydrogen peroxide and water to disinfect benches, walls, and floors. Apply the cleaner with a damp cloth and wipe down all surfaces.

Avoid harsh chemicals that could damage the wood. Steam cleaning is another effective method. Utilize a handheld steam cleaner to apply hot steam, which can kill bacteria without introducing any harmful substances.

Treating Stains and Dirt

Regular maintenance helps prevent stains, but periodic deep cleaning is essential. For removing stains, a mild soapy cloth can be effective. Gently scrub the stained areas, being careful not to damage the wood. Tougher stains may require a specialized wood cleaner designed for saunas.

To clean dirt from the floor, remove any installed wood duckboard flooring and mop with a disinfectant cleaner. Always ensure the wood is not rubbed too aggressively to maintain its integrity. We recommend these methods to keep your sauna looking pristine and extending its lifespan.

Maintaining Wood Surfaces

Proper maintenance of your sauna's wood surfaces is crucial for longevity and hygiene. This guide will cover cleaning techniques, care methods, and damage prevention tips.

Cleaning Wooden Benches

To clean wooden benches, first remove any duckboard flooring or vinyl mats. Vacuum visible debris. Use a specialized sauna room cleaner mixed with water in a small bucket. Dip a soft cloth into the solution and gently wipe down the benches, ensuring not to scrub too hard to avoid opening the wood pores.

For a mild clean, a soft cloth with soapy water can also be used. Always dry the benches with a clean towel to prevent moisture buildup. This helps in minimizing the risk of mold and bacteria.

Regular cleaning is essential in maintaining a hygienic sauna environment, especially in preventing stains and soiling. For best results, use products like those from Finnish Sauna Builders, designed specifically for sauna wood care.

Caring for Sauna Wood

Caring for sauna wood involves regular maintenance and a few simple practices. After each use, leave the sauna door open for ventilation. This helps in drying out the wood surfaces, preventing mold and bacteria growth.

Treat the wood periodically with paraffin oil, which is especially good for heat-treated wood and alder surfaces. The oil accentuates the natural color while providing protection. Apply the oil using a soft cloth, ensuring even coverage.

Keep the humidity levels in check. Excess moisture can harm wood, so maintaining the right balance is key. Finnish Sauna Builders offers a range of products and advice tailored to keep your sauna in pristine condition.

Protecting Wood from Damage

Preventing damage to your sauna wood starts with regular inspections. Look for any signs of wear, such as splintering or loose boards. Address these issues promptly to prevent further deterioration.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive brushes, as these can damage the wood. Stick to mild soap and soft towels. Minimize direct exposure to water, and never allow standing water to remain on wooden surfaces.

Consider placing towels on benches during use to catch sweat and moisture. This simple step can significantly extend the life of your wood surfaces. Finnish Sauna Builders emphasizes the importance of using high-quality materials and provides custom-made, prefabricated kits designed for durability and ease of maintenance. This ensures a functional and long-lasting sauna experience.

Caring for Sauna Accessories

Maintaining your sauna accessories ensures a clean, safe, and enjoyable sauna experience. Essential components such as sauna stones, heaters, and various accessories require regular care and cleaning.

Sauna Stones

Sauna stones, a critical part of your sauna, hold and radiate heat to create steam when water is poured. Regular inspection and cleaning are essential to maintain their effectiveness.

Remove and rinse the stones every six months to eliminate dust and debris. Avoid harsh chemicals; instead, use mild soap and water.

Replace cracked or crumbling stones to ensure even heat distribution and prevent damage to the heater. Always use sauna-specific stones like those supplied by Finnish Sauna Builders to guarantee they tolerate extreme temperatures.

Sauna Heaters

The sauna heater is the heart of any sauna, converting electrical energy into heat. Proper maintenance ensures safety and efficiency.

Unplug the heater before cleaning. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior, avoiding any abrasive cleaners that could damage the finish. Inspect the wiring and connections regularly for wear and tear.

Check the heater's temperature sensors and safety features. Clean the vents and air ducts to prevent overheating and maintain optimal performance. Utilizing a trusted brand like Finnish Sauna Builders for your heater ensures quality and longevity.

Other Accessories

Other sauna accessories such as backrests, buckets, and ladles also require maintenance.

Wooden backrests should be sanded lightly to remove any built-up sweat and oils. Clean buckets and ladles with warm water and a soft cloth, ensuring all surfaces are thoroughly dried to prevent mold and mildew.

Textiles like towels and robes should be washed after each use in hot water to maintain hygiene. Regularly inspect and replace worn-out accessories to maintain a clean environment.

Handling Special Cleaners and Solutions

Maintaining a clean and healthy sauna environment is crucial, especially given the moist conditions that can lead to mold and bacteria growth. Proper use of cleaners and solutions ensures your sauna remains in prime condition.

Using Sauna-specific Cleaners

Sauna-specific cleaners are designed to effectively clean without damaging the wood. These cleaners often have disinfectant properties that help eliminate bacteria and mold. When using a sauna-specific cleaner, follow the manufacturer's instructions closely to maximize effectiveness and safety.

Apply the cleaner with a soft cloth to avoid scratching the wood. Finnish Sauna Builders recommends using products tailored for sauna cleaning to maintain the longevity of your investment. These products are formulated to be gentle on the wood while providing thorough cleaning.

Remember, frequent cleaning with sauna-specific cleaners helps prevent long-term damage and maintains the aesthetic and functional quality of your sauna.

Natural Cleaning Alternatives

For those who prefer eco-friendly and natural cleaning methods, white vinegar and baking soda are excellent alternatives. White vinegar acts as a mild disinfectant, breaking down grime and killing bacteria without harsh chemicals. Simply mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and apply it to sauna surfaces.

Baking soda, on the other hand, can be used to scrub stubborn spots. Make a paste of baking soda and water, and gently scrub the affected areas. This method is effective without the risk of chemically damaging the wood.

These alternatives are not only environmentally friendly but also cost-effective and safe for frequent use in your sauna.

Avoiding Harsh Chemicals

Using harsh chemicals in your sauna can damage the wood and pose health risks. Products containing bleach or ammonia should be strictly avoided, as they can cause the wood to degrade and emit harmful fumes when heated.

Opt for mild cleaners and natural solutions to protect the integrity of your sauna's materials. If unsure about a product, consult the recommendations from Finnish Sauna Builders or check for cleaners specifically labeled as safe for sauna use.

Regular maintenance with appropriate cleaners will ensure that your sauna remains a safe and enjoyable space for relaxation. Avoiding harsh chemicals preserves the wood's condition and extends the life of your sauna.

Aftercare and Preventative Measures

Maintaining your sauna extends its lifespan and enhances your relaxation experience. Key areas to focus on include regular cleaning schedules, addressing spillage and sweat, and ensuring proper ventilation and dryness.

Regular Cleaning Schedules

Regular cleaning is essential to keep your sauna free of bacteria and germs. A consistent cleaning routine using a mild cleaner and a spray bottle can effectively sanitize surfaces. Start by wiping down benches, walls, and floors with a damp cloth.

Use a mixture of warm water and mild detergent for wooden surfaces. Avoid harsh chemicals to preserve the wood's integrity. It's also important to conduct deeper cleanings monthly, including scrubbing areas prone to sweat stains. This approach ensures a clean environment, enhancing your overall sauna experience.

Addressing Spillage and Sweat

Handling spillage and sweat immediately prevents stains and bacteria growth. When you notice any liquid or sweat residue, clean it up as soon as possible. Use absorbent towels to soak up excess moisture and then wipe the area with a cloth dampened with a mild cleaning solution.

This practice is especially important after every sauna session. By maintaining a habit of inspecting and cleaning, you prevent sweat stains and the accumulation of bacteria. Ensuring cleanliness after every use keeps the sauna hygienic and ready for relaxation.

Ensuring Proper Ventilation and Dryness

Proper ventilation is crucial to avoid mold and mildew growth in a sauna. Install vents strategically to create a convection airflow, which helps in drying out moisture. Position the lower vent about 4 inches from the floor, near the heater, and the upper vent approximately 6 inches from the ceiling.

Using a fan or leaving the door open after use can also help in drying the space. This practice reduces excess moisture and maintains the wood's condition. Proper ventilation not only preserves the sauna but also ensures a comfortable and healthy environment for users.

Troubleshooting Common Cleaning Issues

Maintaining a clean sauna can be challenging. Addressing issues like tough buildup, persistent odors, and damaged surfaces ensures your sauna stays in top condition.

Removing Tough Buildup

Tough buildup in your sauna, typically from dead skin and grime, can be challenging. Start by using a damp mop with a disinfectant cleaner to tackle the surface grime, particularly on floors and benches. For more stubborn areas, employ a soft cloth with a mild soap solution.

Avoid abrasive materials which can damage wood. For intricate areas, a pressure washer set to low pressure can effectively clean without compromising the wood’s integrity. For limescale on sauna heaters, use a specialized sauna heater cleanser. Always scrub gently to prevent opening the wood pores.

Dealing with Persistent Odors

Persistent odors often arise from poor drainage or neglected cleaning routines. Ensure your sauna’s drains are clear to prevent water buildup. Regularly mop floors using soft soaps that are gentle on wood but effective against odor-causing bacteria.

For a natural deodorizing agent, consider placing bowls of baking soda in the sauna when not in use. If the odor persists, inspect for mold under benches and in corners. Address moisture control by keeping the sauna well-ventilated. Additionally, follow Finnish Sauna Builders' recommendation for regular maintenance to keep your installation relatively sanitary.

Repairing Damaged Surfaces

Damage to sauna surfaces can result from excessive scrubbing or the use of harsh chemicals. For minor scratches, gently sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the wood. If the damage is more extensive, such as deep gouges or splits, you might require professional repair to avoid further degradation.

Avoid artificial finishes that can alter the sauna’s natural properties. Instead, protect and seal wood with purpose-made oils. Finnish Sauna Builders offers high-quality saunas, made to order and delivered as a prefabricated kit, ensuring you get exactly what you need.

Consult with the team at Finnish Sauna Builders for expert advice on maintaining and repairing your custom sauna to ensure longevity and optimal performance.

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