How To Properly Clean a Sauna: Everything You Need to Know!

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If you own a sauna, you will need to maintain it. One of the best things about owning a sauna is that it does not take much work to use or clean, and it requires less routine maintenance than other home features. You’ll still need to do a basic cleaning routine around once a month to ensure you get the best use from your sauna. 

How should you be cleaning your sauna? Here are some typical cleaning routines that will keep your Sauna in good condition:

  • After every use: Wipe off any dirt and, for steam saunas, use the water basin to brush down the wood, and leave the sauna doors open for the unit to dry.
  • Monthly: Mop with a mild detergent solution, and use a scrubbing brush and soap to tackle any sweat stains or discolored areas.

These are just a few simple steps that can really help your sauna. A good habit of wiping down after use with monthly mopping and deep-cleaning as needed will maintain your sauna for years. And that’s great because the benefits of routine sauna use will mean you’ll want to keep yours nice for the rest of your life. 

What Should You Clean Your Sauna With?

Cleaning supplies on wooden background

Firstly, when you want to sit in the sauna, you should always wrap a towel around your body or at least lay one out underneath you. This will help maintain your sauna and keep it clean from sweat stains. We know that doesn’t always work, and you will have to eventually clean your sauna, and you have some options for what to clean it with. You don’t need any special chemicals to clean your sauna. Here are a few options for simple solutions you can make from household ingredients:

Using a Mild Vinegar Cleaning Solution

Lucy's Family Owned - Natural Distilled White Vinegar, 1 Gallon (128 oz) - 5% Acidity

This natural substance may have a strong smell. Still, it is perfect for getting rid of bacteria and germs without causing damage to the wood in your sauna. You can soak your stones in vinegar and water; any lime or scale on the rocks will come right off. To make this mixture, add water and vinegar to a spray bottle in a ratio of about one-to-one, or less vinegar if you’re worried about the smell. A drop of essential oil, if you have it on hand, will help add that fresh experience.

Using a Baking Soda-Based Cleaning Solution

Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda Shaker 12 Oz (Pack of 2)

This one is a little more complicated, and you should only need to use this type solution if you’re really getting after some darker sweat-stained patches, or worse, mold. However, a baking soda cleaning solution can be great to up the intensity of the cleaning solution without risking damaging the wood.

To make this solution, you’ll want to start with a cup of water. Add half a cup of baking soda, and a tablespoon of vinegar. Without giving you a chemistry lesson, what we’re doing here is adding the vinegar–a mild acid–and a base (the baking soda) which causes a bit of a foaming reaction especially when scrubbed. The grit of the baking soda is also every-so-slightly abrasive, so it really helps dislodge grime. Don’t spray this one, instead, dip a sponge or cloth into it and apply as needed to address stains. And rinse off with water afterward.

Soft Soaps

Jack Richeson 250 ml Linseed Studio Soap

If you want to skip the DIY options above, you can for sure just use your countertop soap for cleaning your sauna. The best soft soap you can use for your sauna is Linseed oil soap. It will help maintain the wood and give your sauna a nice clean smell. It helps protect benches, cleans them, and refreshes the room. It will leave no residue or film on your walls, but if you use a lot of it and work up a sort of lather, it’s best to rinse that off with water when you’re finished cleaning. You can use normal dish soap, just dilute it ahead of time with water.

What You Should Not Use To Clean Your Sauna

A quick Google search may lead you down the wrong path of sauna cleaners. There are a few items we would recommend you stay far away from if you want to maintain your sauna. Some products will for sure clean the interior of the sauna, but they’re just too strong and intense, and may also damage wood or just over-clean and discolor it relative to the wood around it. You want to remove dirt and grime, and not do anything more intense than that.

Chlorine Based Products

Chlorine-based products aren’t good for this application, cleaning saunas, for a whole host of reasons. First, chlorine or a mild bleach solution can discolor wood and, if left behind, can accelerate the aging of the wood. It’s also not an acceptable chemical to use in rooms that will get very hot, because anything left behind on the wood, or soaked into the wood, will get in the air when heated, and then will be inhaled into your lungs. For all these reasons, it’s best to avoid chlorine-based cleaning products in your sauna.

Pine Oil

This detergent will leave a strong film on the wood and also a funky residue. Many brands will leave glutaraldehyde which is a dangerous substance when heated (for the same reasons described above around chlorine). If you want pine oil for the smell, make sure it only has these three ingredients, pine oil, water, and lye, and go ahead and dilute it with a little more water just to be sure. 

How To Deep-Clean Your Sauna in 6 Easy Steps

Here is a simple list to follow for cleaning your sauna regularly. It is not hard and should only take an hour of your day and even less if you get good at it!

1. Gather your Materials 

Start by grabbing your materials. Grab a soft soap, or mix up the vinegar or baking soda solutions, and grab the right tools: a simple cloth if all you need to do is wipe down, or a scrub brush if you need to get personal with some darker spots or mold.

Wipe Down Top to Bottom

Start from the very top of the room. You might as well wipe down the ceiling, then move down to the walls, refreshing the amount of cleaning solution on your cloth as necessary. Head to the benches, the backrests then the seats. Finally, dump some of your cleaning solution out on the floor and wipe it down with a clean cloth, or, if you have one, use a mopping pole and pad to save your back a little grief. If your benches aren’t built-in, nows a good time to move them and wipe down the surfaces behind and underneath them too. This may also reveal a little more grime that needs your attention in the next step.

3. Handle Larger Patches of Dirt

At this point turn your attention to any dark patches or mold. If you have any of these to deal with, you may also want to swap to using a more sturdy scrubbing brush or sponge to help dislodge that dirt. If you found some mold or mildew anywhere, be sure to take care of that.

4. For Steam-Based Saunas: Clean The Rocks and Water Basin

While infrared saunas may not have any rocks or water to manage at all, for a steam-based sauna, you’ll want to just have a look at the rocks to see if they need cleaning. If you see any scale formation, made of minerals left behind when the water poured over the rocks evaporates, you can soak the rocks in a mild bleach solution to get rid of these. For your water basin and ladle, clean them in the same way you’ve cleaned the other surfaces in the sauna.

5. Rinse It Out!

If your sauna is outdoors, this step is a little quicker. Using a hose, simply hose down all the surfaces in the sauna to get rid of any left-behind cleaning chemicals. If the sauna is indoors and a liberal hosing isn’t an option, just use fresh water and a clean rag to wipe it all down again, to the point that you’re confident there isn’t a bunch of cleaning materials left behind.

6. Air Out and Dry

Now we’re at the final step: leave the door open and let your sauna dry, then get ready to use (and enjoy) your freshly cleaned sauna all over again! 

How To Keep Your Sauna Clean During Normal Use

One of the best habits to get into is doing a quick cleaning after every use. This will help prevent bacteria from spreading and help you maintain it without needing to do a deep clean too often. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you go into your sauna. 

  • Rinse-Off Ahead of Time – One of the best things to do is work out and then go sit in the sauna, but this is not the best way to keep it clean. You should always rinse off before going into the sauna. This helps prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. 
  • Use Clean Towels – Many people think you can just sit in the sauna, but that is not true. To keep your sauna pristine, everyone who goes in should have at least two to three towels. One to keep wrapped up in, two to sit on, and another to wipe down with. This will help prevent sauna stains. 
  • Keep a Small Brush in the Sauna – Typically, you will notice people leave a small brush of some kind in the sauna. You may want to adopt this habit. While the sauna is still hot, you can take the brush, dip it into the water and scrub out any stains you see right away. 
  • Wipe It Down On Exit – Take a wet cloth and wipe it down everywhere you sit. You won’t need to scrub, but this basic habit will help you prevent bacteria from growing. It’s not full-proof, but it will tip the odds in your favor and, in our opinion, can contribute to the ritual of using the sauna making it a more pleasant and intentional activity for you.

How Often Should You Clean Your Sauna?

If you notice any stains, you should always clean them immediately. If you notice stains will not come out as you are leaving, it is time to plan a deep clean of your sauna. Even if you do not notice any stains, we recommend cleaning once a month to maintain your sauna. Here are some things to look for when deciding if it’s time to clean your sauna or not. 

  • Grease Stains – Whenever a grease stain doesn’t come out quickly, it is time to get some soft soap and scrub it out. This will help protect the wood and keep your sauna looking nice. 
  • Dirty Floors – Believe it or not, floors are where many germs and bacteria like to spread and multiply. If there is a lot of dirt on the floor, you will want to sweep it up and then mop it with a gentle soap. 
  • Dirty Benches – Many times you will see benches that have dirt, mold, or sweat stains on them. It is time to clean it if you continuously wipe it down after every use and still see it. 
  • Slimy rocks – Ladles and rocks need to be cleaned every once in a while, or you will notice they have a residue and a small layer of film. You want to avoid that. 
  • Greasy Door handles – Another place that germs love to spread is on door handles. You will want to wipe this down as often as possible and truly deep clean it once a month. Some people may even want to use bleach on their door handles. 

In Conclusion

You’ll want to regularly clean your sauna, and it should be straightforward to do. Owning a sauna can be highly rewarding if you take care of it properly. To maintain a peaceful environment means you need to clean regularly. Hopefully, these tips will help you maintain that tranquility. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it bad to leave sweat stains in your sauna?

You may be wondering if you can leave the sweat stains and let them dry just one time. We highly recommend against this because it can cause a build-up of bacteria and germs that may be harder to get rid of in the future. 

How to prevent the sauna from smelling?

You will notice that there will be a specific smell in your sauna if you do not clean it enough. Noticing any kind of smell in your sauna is a trigger that it’s time to clean!

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