Saunas are great to have in any home and are a place where you can put your mind to rest and enjoy the heat. They are, however, constantly exposed to heat, moisture, sweat, and other factors that might damage the otherwise dry wood inside. In this article, I will give you all the necessary tips and points on how to clean your sauna and keep it in a mint condition for as long as possible.
If you are still looking for a good infrared sauna, I suggest checking out my buyer’s guide on the topic. There, I’ve listed some of the top models for this year and have also given you a few pointers on how to pick the best model on your own!
The Cleaning Process
Depending on the type of sauna you have, the steps might vary a little bit in terms of their sequence or importance. I will mention it every time there is a detail that is regarding a different sauna type (infrared, traditional, etc). In general, you can divide each sauna into sections and take it from there. We will go through the proper cleaning steps for the:
- Benches and backrests
- Plastic parts and accessories
- Heater and stones
- Other accessories
Now, let’s go through all of these sauna parts and see how to clean them thoroughly in order to maintain a high hygiene level…
If you use the sauna on a constant basis, the floor should be cleaned daily. Pay special attention to the areas around the feet of the benches. If needed, you can scrub the floor. Around 30 seconds of scrubbing at the darker (most used) spots should be enough after each use. After you’re done scrubbing, rinse the wood with clean water. You can put the brush and the bucket near the sauna’s entrance in order to remind you to clean it after each use.
What you should always keep in the back of your mind is that the wood in the sauna is extremely dry. That means that it is really susceptible to damage caused by pressure washers. You can hose it down but never with any type of pressure as that can damage the wood and cause mold further down the road. Using a water hose is also not an ideal scenario as it can still soak up the wood and cause it to split. Some sauna models will come with a waterproof coating up to a certain height for exactly that reason but even then you should proceed with caution when using a pressure washer.
If there is dirt on the floor of the sauna, don’t be afraid to use a vacuum cleaner. It is really easy for dust and other particles to end up stuck between the wooden floor, which is why you should vacuum it every few weeks either way.
Benches and backrests
If you have different sauna accessories like sauna backrests, now is a good time to remove them and set them up for a clean-up later on. That will also free up the sauna and make all sports easily accessible for you. These backrests, along with the seats or benches are some of the most common points of contact with the human body inside the sauna. That makes them vulnerable to wear and tear and requires more frequent maintenance than the rest of the sauna elements.
The best way to keep benches and backrests in a spotless condition is to sand them once or twice a year, depending on how often you use the sauna. You can use fine wood sandpaper or a sanding machine. Always wear a dust mask and a suction device when using either of those two.
For the cleaning that will follow, you can use a disinfectant such as hydrogen peroxide (diluted to a 3% concentration). Typical disinfectants can be corrosive to both your skin and the wooden surface, so take all precautions needed. That’s why I often recommend hydrogen peroxide, as it basically dissolves into water and oxygen when it comes into contact with any wooden surface.
The walls should be cleaned as regularly as the floor if you’re using the sauna often. A good solution for brushing the walls is a mix of baking soda and water (1 tbsp in 1 gallon). Use that to gently scrub the wood and then rinse it with clean water. If you want to protect your walls from human skin contact, consider investing in backrests that can be removed and cleaned separately. Depending on what type of wood you used in your sauna you might want to pay special attention to the parts of the walls that are close to the heater. Those will discolor the fastest and will often turn darker. Putting high metal plates around the heater typically protects the wood but then you will have to make it a point to always clean behind those metal plates, otherwise, the wood will be much darker behind them when you remove the heater.
Plastic parts and accessories
All of the plastic parts and accessories of your sauna can be cleaned any way you want. Plastic is much more durable than wood and can be cleaned with all sorts of detergents. The most common plastic part is the control panel. It is also the part that you touch the most so pay special attention to it but don’t use detergents which are too harsh as you can easily discolor the panel’s plastics or make the buttons start to peel off.
The door of the sauna is typically the easiest part of the whole cleaning process. This is because it is most often made out of glass. Glass doors are super easy to maintain and tend to last quite a while before the glass starts becoming matted. Doors that are part of the exterior wooden frame and have little or not glass on them should be treated with care on the inside. If you share the sauna with other people you can disinfect the door’s handles.
If its an outdoor sauna model, you can pressure wash its exterior from time to time to keep the sauna looking good from the outside too.
Heater and stones
The heater and the stones you have for it should regularly maintained as well. Depending on the heater type and design you can use a metal brush to keep it clean on the inside and a wipe with a specific detergent to keep it shiny on the outside. The sauna stones can and should be replaced every 6-12 months depending on their type and how often you’ve used the heater.
When you’re done with the main parts of the sauna, don’t forget to clean all the accessories such as:
- Essential oils cups
- Buckets and ladles
- Removable backrests
- Wooden pillows
- Hygrometers and thermometers
- Bench stools
All of these are in frequent contact with you and can be easily forgotten during the cleaning process. They are mostly made out of wood so be as gentle with them as you were with the other surfaces.
Maintenance & Care Tips
Apart from cleaning it regularly, your sauna will also need some maintenance and care in order to stay in the best shape possible for as long as possible. After you’re done cleaning the inside and outside of your sauna, it is time to take care of the wood by impregnating it. Impregnation will keep the wood relatively stable and moisture-resistant. It will also keep it from darkening from the heat and sun exposure (for outdoor saunas).
The best way to avoid any type of staining on your sauna is to use towels. They will absorb the salty sweat and keep it from touching the wooden surfaces. You cannot completely wrap yourself in towels, however, which is why you should brush down the seat and backrests after each use.
Using pure (clean) water is essential to keeping the sauna from building up minerals on its wood. Hard water can leave stains on the wood if used frequently in the washing process. Distilled water is best if you live in a region that has very hard water.
One maintenance tip that is often overlooked is the screws inside the sauna. Most sauna benches are screwed to the wooden floor. Due to constant heat and moisture changes, these screws can come loose so you must inspect them every now and then and tighten them up at least every 6 months. The same goes for all the screws on the exterior of your sauna.
Learning how to clean your sauna isn’t a complex process and requires only a handful of knowledge to be executed properly. The main thing you should be aware of is to not use any sort of water hoses or pressure washers. While hosing down the newly cleaned sauna interior is acceptable in some waterproof-treat models, it will ruin the wood and make it split in some traditional saunas. If you have any concerns about how to clean your specific sauna model, you can always reach out to me via the contact page!