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How To Maintain a Sauna

There are few experiences more relaxing and healthful than a session in a sauna. Unfortunately, due to the heat and humidity generated in a sauna in combination with human contact, it is the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow and flourish. There are some simple steps you can take to keep your sauna looking good as new and at the same time discourage the growth of mold and mildew. Most saunas are made from an unfinished wood such as red cedar. An applied finish will usually cause the surface to become uncomfortably hot to the touch. An exception to this might be finished duckboards, those loose platforms on the floor, and door handles where an applied finish of polyurethane or varnish will help to keep frequent contact with these surfaces from turning them dark and dirty.

Maintaining the unfinished wood

Keep your sauna looking clean and inviting with proper cleaning and maintenance

Keep your sauna looking clean and inviting with proper cleaning and maintenance

  1. Use a brush with soft bristles and plain water on the walls and benches to eliminate dirt and dust before leaving the sauna.
  2. If perspiration stains have accumulated on the wooden benches, use a solution of warm water and a small amount of mild detergent with a soft bristle brush or a sponge to wipe down the surfaces.
  3. Rinse the wooden surfaces thoroughly with a clean sponge or terry cloth. Do not use excess water.
  4. Raise up the duckboards and lean them against the benches after using the sauna.
  5. If mold or mildew does begin to grow on the surfaces, use a solution of water and bleach and a soft brush to wash down the surfaces, scrubbing gently to remove the mold accumulations.
  6. Sometimes perspiration will turn the wooden surfaces dark. You can use a solution of warm water and oxalic crystals to lighten the wood and return it to its original state.
  7. If your sauna has one, empty the wooden bucket and turn it over before leaving the sauna.
  8. Avoid pouring large quantities of cold water over the hot sauna rocks. It can damage them. Pour no more than a cup or so of warm water on the rocks at a time to produce the needed steam.
  9. Wipe down the stainless steel heater cover with a damp cloth and dry it well.


Prop the sauna door open after you are finished using the sauna to allow for proper air flow through the sauna. This will help to discourage the growth of mold and bacteria. It will also help to heat an adjacent shower.

When using cleaning agents or bleaching solutions protect yourself with safety goggles and rubber gloves.

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