Saunas are meant to be relaxing. They’re a way to get some exercise and clean your body on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many people associate the word “sauna” with a huge maintenance and repair bill. Although there is some maintenance that you should perform on a regular basis (and repairs to make sure they continue working correctly), sauna owners don’t need to spend as much money as they think.
If you own a sauna, you should vacuum the floors and brush the benches and backrests at least once a week, ideally after each session, to keep your sauna in good condition. Once a month, wash benches with water and mild soap and leave them to dry for 24 hours.
A good sauna is worth the investment, and you should get the most out of it. Fortunately, maintaining a sauna is not time-consuming, nor does it cost a lot of money. This guide will help anyone who is wondering how much work goes into maintaining a sauna and how much money it costs. If you want to learn everything there is to know about home sauna care and maintenance, read this entire article.
The Basics of Home Sauna Care
Cleaning and maintaining your home sauna is not as complicated as you may think. Just like any room in your house, cleaning your sauna should be done on a regular basis, whether it’s once a month or once a week.
However, the best way to maintain your home sauna is to clean it thoroughly after each use and perform routine maintenance and checkups. Make sure to read the instructions that come with your sauna set and use a cleaner when needed to keep wooden surfaces clean and smooth.
Before You Go in the Sauna
Before you enter the sauna, you need to make sure that your body is clean, fresh, and well bathed because this will keep the sauna clean and fresh for the future. We’ve stated previously that using the sauna after a workout is the best way to go, so you’ll need to shower before you use a sauna.
That is because, during the entire session, you will be sweating out a lot of dirt, dead skin cells, and other impurities of the body. You may not realize it, but you will be sweating a lot more than usual when you’re in the sauna.
Showering before going into your sauna is one of the most important things you can do to keep your sauna clean. Don’t dive into your sauna right after a sweaty workout; shower first! It may seem like a lot of extra work, especially since you’ll likely be showering after the sauna too, but your sauna will thank you!
During Your Sauna Session
While you are in the sauna, do your best to keep it clean. Instead of sitting directly on a bench, sit on a towel. Additionally, never bring food and drinks other than water into the sauna. Avoid bringing in things that can melt as well, like plastics and wax candles.
Don’t reuse towels, always grab a fresh one. While reusing towels may seem economical, the towels you use in a sauna become dirty quickly due to the profuse amount of sweat. When you leave the towel overnight, the sweat and dampness can breed mold, germs, and bad smells, which are not good for the interior of your sauna.
After Your Sauna Session
When you are finished with the sauna, a quick wipe-down of all of the areas you and your guests used will go a long way in sustaining the quality of your indoor sauna. Use a towel moistened with water to wipe off spots where people sat or lay. Remove all items you brought in as well, don’t accidentally leave sweaty towels or clothes inside.
Clean your feet before you enter the sauna. Even though you usually have to take a shower before you get into the sauna, on your walk over, you can still gather dirt, soil, debris, dust, and other non-desirables directly into the sauna.
Keeping a foot cleaning area right outside the entrance to the sauna can help prevent this potential cause of dirt. If you use rugs or mats inside or just outside the sauna, make sure you clean those regularly – at least once a week or more if you’re using it frequently.
Maintaining Sauna Equipment
Your sauna is not only an amenity to your home; it is an investment. And just like any other investment and part of your home, you should do your due diligence to keep it in the best shape possible. As such, performing preventive maintenance on your sauna at set intervals throughout the year is necessary.
Here’s a brief guide on how to maintain each critical component of your home sauna. Keep in mind that you should always be sure to reference the sauna manufacturer’s manual for proper maintenance and cleaning instructions on the specific model you have.
Sauna heaters like this one (on Amazon) are very robust pieces of equipment and can last over ten years without any issue, especially if you take good care of it. When you install sauna stones into your heater for the first time, rinse them off to remove small pieces.
Once rinsed, they can be placed between the heating elements. Once every six months to a year, inspect the heating elements for any breaks. If your sauna heater stops working, you’ll know right away (due to the lack of heat).
It’s not hard to imagine that sauna rocks require little maintenance on their own. After all, they are just rocks that absorb heat. Every six months to a year, however, you can remove the sauna rocks and clean them to remove dust, calcium, and other buildups on the stones. Just make sure they’ve been given ample time to cool down before you touch them.
Over time, the wooden interior of your sauna will change in appearance. This is not bad and happens to all saunas due to heat, light, and moisture exposure. If you want to restore the sauna to its original, “fresh” wooden interior, you can sand the wood with a sanding disc.
However, cover the heater and stones with a plastic sheet or tarp first, so the dust doesn’t get on the heating elements. When you’re done, vacuum the room and wipe down any wood you sanded with a damp cloth. Never use lacquers, sealants, or stains on the wood in your sauna.
If you have a steam sauna like this one (on Amazon), you’ll want to be sure to never use hard water with it. Only use purified water. Calcification from hard water can build up in your steam pump quickly and prevent it from working. Fortunately, they can be cleaned in most cases; just make sure it is off and cooled down first.
If your sauna has a built-in exhaust, you’ll want to check that it’s in proper condition once or twice a year as well. Verify the fan is working (if it has a fan) and inspect it for the buildup of dust and lint. If it looks dirty, clean it out with a vacuum.
To ensure your sauna’s thermometer is working correctly, check it with a handheld thermometer once or twice per year. After all, the thermometer controls the heater in your sauna, and you don’t want it to get too hot or too cold.
How Much Does it Cost to Maintain?
An indoor sauna is part of your home, and you’ll want to do your best to maintain it. In fact, you probably got your sauna to enjoy it. And what better way to get years and years of continued enjoyment than by maintaining it? Maintaining your sauna isn’t hard, and it’s not cost-prohibitive either.
Most sauna owners are surprised to find out that the cost to clean and maintain their saunas is only 1-4% of its initial cost per year! For example, if your indoor sauna costs $3,000, you can expect your yearly maintenance cost to be between $30 to $120 each year (1% to 4% of $3,000).
These maintenance costs include cleaning supplies, new equipment as it breaks down (eventually, not every year), and minor repair costs (like sanding). With that in mind, there are some minor differences between the types of saunas that are worth exploring.
Maintaining Traditional vs. Infrared Saunas
Maintaining a traditional sauna and an infrared sauna is actually pretty similar (more on how they’re similar and different in our dedicated guide). However, since infrared saunas don’t have hot sauna rocks that you can splash water onto like a traditional sauna, there is less dirt as a result.
With an infrared sauna, you will want to inspect the infrared panels once every six months or so to ensure proper operation. Besides this core maintenance difference, caring for an infrared sauna is the same as a traditional one.
How Often Should You Clean Your Sauna?
After each use of your sauna, you should wipe it down. However, deeper cleanings should be done at least once a month and more frequently if you use it very often. Before you clean your sauna, make sure it is cooled off entirely and no longer warm.
Depending on the chemical cleaner you use, it could react with the heat and damage the interior. The cleaners can also become heated enough to vaporize, which could be inhaled and cause health issues. When you deep clean your sauna, use a mild detergent mixed with warm water (avoid chemicals like bleach and ammonia).
The water and detergent mixture will remove stains caused by dirt and skin oils. It will also leave your sauna smelling fresh. After you’ve cleaned the interior, leave the door open and let it dry completely before using it again.