tools for cleaning your sauna

How to clean your sauna?

Investing in a sauna is the ultimate step toward investing in your health. Just like you need to take care of your body to keep it running smoothly, you need to take care of your sauna. Making sure you take proper care of your sauna ensures you’ll be able to enjoy its benefits for years to come.

Because your sauna is a moist environment that comes into contact with skin, it is important to clean your sauna regularly. Dead skin cells, sweat and hair, can easily collect and give your sauna an unsightly look and smell. But with a few easy cleaning practices, you can keep your sauna nice and clean for years to come.

Weekly Cleaning

Each week (or once every 5 to 7 sessions if you don’t use the sauna daily) you should do a more thorough cleaning. You should continue to wipe with vinegar and water, but now you should get the entire sauna surface, not just the areas where you sit. 

If there are any stubborn stains or dirt, now is the time to use a mild soap or a cleaner that is specifically designed for saunas. Check out this one at Amazon.   

Don’t overdo it; the interior wood of a sauna is delicate. If you have been wiping down your sauna after every session, it won’t need a lot of cleaning. Weekly cleaning should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes. 

Monthly Cleaning

Once a month you should spend 15 minutes getting all the dirt out of your sauna.

Sweep out and mop the floors of the sauna. Again, when mopping use a mild soap, diluted with water. Use a vacuum to clean dust and dirt from the benches, walls, nooks and crevices of the sauna.

If you still have any sweat or water stains, which you haven’t been able to get out, you can remove them with a light sanding. Use fine-grain sandpaper (360 to 600 grit). You can also sand out any scuffs or scratches.

Yearly Maintenance

Once a year, you should lightly sand the interior wood of your sauna with fine grade sandpaper (360 to 600 grit). 

You should also check your sauna for any loose screws and tighten them. Check to see that your door hinges are tight and oil if necessary. 

Finally, look for any parts that need to be repaired or replaced. 

How to Clean and Maintain Your Sauna Heater

Most electrical sauna heaters do not require much cleaning or maintenance. They tend to be made of stainless steel and should be cleaned with a rag and vinegar. Remove sauna rocks and wipe the trough of your sauna heater.

You can soak your sauna rocks in soap and water. Let them dry before placing them back on the sauna heater. Sauna rocks should last for years. If you notice that they are chipping or cracking, it is time to replace them.

How to Clean and Maintain Your Sauna Tips

After every use, you should wipe out your sauna with a towel. You want it to be as dry as possible. On occasion, you can wipe the inside of the sauna with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or disinfectant cleaning spray. 

Lift up your portable sauna and check underneath it to see if there is any accumulated moisture. If moisture tends to accumulate underneath your sauna, you will want to flip the sauna on its side so that both the bottom of the sauna and the floor underneath can dry. Some portable saunas have covers that can be machine washed and hung to dry. Check your users manual for details. Other portable saunas have detachable cloth collars that can be removed and thrown in with the laundry. 

Saunas are great to detoxify and relax in. The use of these saunas has grown quite rapidly over the last several years. While their method of heat differs from a steam sauna, they must be cleaned periodically. They are easy to clean, and if looked after properly could even last you a lifetime.

To clean your sauna, it is important you use environmentally friendly products. They should also be non-toxic. A good cleaner would be organic cider vinegar, mix one-part vinegar to 3 parts warm water. And gently sponge down the entire interior of your sauna. Then dry with a soft cloth.

Sweep or vacuum the sauna floor often. You can clean the floor just like any other floor, with a mild detergent and warm water. Keeping the floor clean and fresh is highly recommended. That is because this is where the majority of the bacteria will accumulate.

If you have a sauna blanket like one of these, you can follow the cleaning instructions given on this page for that as well. Keeping your sauna clean and free of bacteria is easy. And will ensure your sauna gives you many years of health benefits.

Clean Yourself

Your body is the only way moisture, dirt, and dust can enter your sauna. Because of this, you can minimize the chances of dirtying up your sauna by taking a quick rinse and dry before heading into your sauna session. If you cannot rinse off before entering, take extra care to clean away any debris you may have tracked in.

Use a Towel

When using your sauna, use a towel on the bench and under your feet. On top of it, adding another layer of comfort, this prevents stains forming in the wood from sweat, body oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. While the stains don’t affect performance, they can affect appearance.

Go All-Natural

Never varnish or paint your sauna. While you may want to match the wood to your decor, paints and stains prevent the natural wood from breathing. Breathing allows the wood to stay clean and feel “soft” with the heat. You may, however, use furniture polish on the exterior.

Stay Dry

If you notice excess moisture after a session, wipe off any excess perspiration with a hand towel. You can also crack the door or roof vent and keep the sauna running for a few minutes once your session is over to evaporate any remaining moisture. This helps air out the sauna to keep it fresh.

Keep It Raw

As much as you think you’ll love a new colour, don’t paint, stain, or varnish the inside of your sauna. Natural wood can breathe – and it needs to.

An artificial finish can cause the wood to get too hot on the surface – and you’ll risk moderate to extreme discomfort. You’ll also breathe heat-released fumes from the wood treatment.

Finally, natural wood feels “soft” when heat and steam penetrate it. Keep the sauna interior raw, and you’ll be glad you did.

Wipe It Down

Easy does it for sauna maintenance. Just keep a hand brush next to your sauna door. Then, just make sure that the last one to leave the sauna wets the brush in the water bucket and quickly scrubs every part you’ve touched. Benches, walls, and backrests.

It takes half a minute. But wiping it down when you leave will keep your sauna in great condition for a long, long time.

If you clean your sauna with pure water every time you use it, you may never have to use anything else to clean the wood parts.

Air It Out

After you clean your sauna with the brush, prop the duckboards up, so they’re raised off the floor. When you exit the sauna, leave the door open – it’ll air out to keep it fresh. The heat that remains in the rocks and wood interior will dry all the moisture out of the sauna eventually.

How to Clean a Sauna Bench

Your sauna bench is the area that gets the most use during your sauna sessions. Because of this, you will need to take extra care to keep them clean. After each use, wipe the area down with a damp cloth. Perspiration stains are common to form from your body and are nothing to worry about. If stains appear, remove them easily removed by lightly sanding the area.

How to Clean a Sauna Floor

Aside from the bench, the sauna floor is the most trafficked area of your sauna and can easily trap debris and bacteria. The floor of the sauna should be cleaned daily. Particular care should be taken around the feet of the benches. The floor should be scrubbed if necessary. 

Use a vacuum hand attachment once per month to clean dust or dirt from your sauna that may have collected over the course of use. It is beneficial to mop your sauna floor from time to time with a sauna cleaning solution for a more thorough cleaning.


Check the screws on the door handles regularly and tighten if necessary. Oil the door hinges regularly. Oil the safety catch on the door regularly and adjust if necessary.

How to Clean Sauna Walls

The interior walls of your sauna can be cleaned with the sauna cleaners mentioned above. For exterior walls, treat the wood like you would any piece of fine furniture. If using a polish (NOT paint or varnish) on the exterior wood, reapply when needed to maintain shine. Outdoor saunas will require more exterior maintenance, and a periodic pressure washing will help keep the outside looking pristine.

Caring for an Outdoor Sauna

With an outdoor sauna, it is all the more likely that dirt will be tracked into the interior of the sauna. For this reason, you will likely need to vacuum and sweep and outdoor sauna more often than an indoor sauna. 

The exterior surface wood of an outdoor sauna does not need to be treated. They will weather naturally. If you prefer, you can stain the exterior of a wood sauna. Look for a stain that protects against ultraviolet rays. You should never paint or varnish the exterior of your sauna. 

You can pressure wash the exterior of an outdoor sauna, but you should never pressure wash the inside of a sauna, as the interior wood is delicate and is likely to be damaged.

If ever in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

Treating the Exterior

The lumber used in our outdoor saunas is functional and beautiful. Over time the wood will weather due to sunlight and precipitation, and if you’re okay with that, there’s no need to do anything about it. But if you so choose, you can do two things to preserve the original properties of the lumber:

Low-pressure wash the exterior periodically.

Apply a stain to the exterior that contains a UV inhibitor to resist the effects of sunlight.

If you decide to stain the exterior of your sauna, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • There are many suitable stains you could use, and your local paint store could probably recommend one.

If you live in an especially sunny region, you may have to reapply stain on a more frequent basis than someone living in a cloudy region. Examine the degree of fading your sauna experiences every few months, especially the first few months of owning your sauna, so that you can respond accordingly.

Minimizing Water Seepage

When you’re putting your sauna together, but as many staves under the bands as possible and make the bands nice and tight so that there will be no gaps in the barrel. Substantial, driving rain may cause a little water to seep into the sauna, and this won’t hurt it at all. However, if a great amount of water is coming in, that means you’ll have to add more staves under the bands. When the inside and outside of the room are dry, remove the top portion of the sauna and reconstruct it adding more staves. If you live in a humid climate, the wood should expand over time to create a tighter seal within the bands. If you live in a dryer climate, the wood may shrink, necessitating that you add more bands over time. Every few months, check the tension of the bands, especially in the first few months of owning your sauna, so that you can respond accordingly.

Cleaning the Interior

Vacuum or sweep out your sauna every now and then to remove loose dirt. For a deeper clean to remove stains due to perspiration, dirt, and general wear, you have a few options available to you:

  • Lightly scrub the wood with warm water.
  • Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand out tougher stains or scuffs.
  • Low-pressure wash the interior with a wide-pattern nozzle.

Caring for an Indoor Saunas

When it comes to indoor saunas here’s how to clean your sauna:

Treating the Exterior

When it comes to treating the exterior of your indoor sauna, it’s really not necessary, but if it’s something you want to do, go for it. Your local paint store can recommend a suitable stain. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying it. NEVER TREAT THE INTERIOR OF THE SAUNA AND NEVER USE VARNISH OR PAINT ON THE EXTERIOR.

Cleaning the Interior

Vacuum or sweep out your sauna every now and then to remove loose dirt. For a deeper clean to remove stains due to perspiration, dirt, and general wear, you have a couple of options available to you:

  • Lightly scrub the wood with warm water.
  • Use fine-grit sandpaper to sand out tougher stains or scuffs.

Tips For Each Sauna Session

Foot Washing

Before entering your sauna, ensure that you rinse your feet in a shower or a bucket of water placed near the entrance. Failure to clean your feet can bring debris and soil into your sauna. Cleaning your feet means less clean up later since you reduce the dirt on the floor, benches, and duckboards.

Rinse off first

If you can, rinse off quickly in the shower before your sauna session. Doing so will remove dirt and dead skin cells from your body and prevent them from ever getting in your sauna in the first place.


It is essential to cure your sauna, especially when using it for the first time. Adjust your sauna’s temperature too high for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the type. Infrared saunas may take longer than a steam sauna. After they are ready, pour one litre of water over the stones to clean them.

Use towels

Following proper sauna etiquette can reduce the amount of time spent cleaning your sauna. Using absorbent bath or beach towels help reduce stains caused by perspiration, dirt, and sweat. Towels control for the excess natural perspiration that occurs in saunas from staining the wood. They keep your sauna looking new and clean. Place fresh towels on benches and floors each time someone uses the sauna and remember to bring a personal towel to dry and exfoliate your own skin. Remember always to use fresh towels with each use. Stains that result from perspiration are expected and can be treated with household dish soap, water, and a little elbow grease. For more stubborn stains, consider the other products we’ve talked about.

The easiest thing you can do to keep your sauna clean is to place a towel on the bench you will be sitting or lying on. After your session is over, you can simply throw the towel in the laundry and that, in-of-itself, will protect the wood from the majority of dirt and sweat that would otherwise accumulate on the sauna’s surface. Using a sauna cushion will provide the same benefit.

Bringing an additional towel in the sauna with you that you can use to dab and wipe away the sweat on your body will help also, and you may find that doing so makes for an even more enjoyable sauna experience. 

Wipe down the area where you were sitting

After every session, you should wipe down the area where you were sitting with a rag or sponge, using water or a vinegar solution.

Many people opt to use water for daily wipe downs. It is best to use distilled or filtered water to prevent minerals in the water from accumulating on the wood surfaces of the sauna. Another method is to use vinegar or a very mild soap.

You should never use harsh cleaners or ammonia to clean your sauna as they can damage the wood. Some people recommend cleaning with baking soda and water, but baking soda could damage and discolour the wood in your sauna, especially if it soaks into the wood. 

I recommend filling an empty plastic spray bottle with equal parts of vinegar and filtered water and keeping handy. Though optional, diffusing 10 to 15 drops of an essential oil or tea tree oil in this cleaning solution provides a nice effect. 

Leave the sauna door open after use

Leave the sauna door open after using the sauna to allow any moisture remaining in the sauna to evaporate. 

If you use towels and keep your spray bottle handy, then cleaning the sauna after each session should take no more than 30 seconds. 

Making Your Own Cleaners

Although commercial sauna cleaners are available, either at your local spa and pool suppliers or online, you can consider making your own.

As we all know, these commercial cleaners can be costly. And don’t necessarily work any better than the ones you can make yourself.

A common one you can use is organic cider vinegar. One part vinegar to 3 parts warm water. This works very well and costs only pennies to make.

To rid your sauna of smell or bacteria, a small amount of bleach added to warm water is perfect. Just keep in mind it should be a mild solution, not too strong.

Rubbing alcohol and warm water is another good cleaner. You can add tea tree oil or any citrus extract or essential oil to the mix to combat fungus and bacteria.

These do it yourself cleaners are easy to make and easy to use and very cost-effective. With a little effort and the use of these cleaners, you are sure to get years of use from your personal sauna.

Sauna maintenance is quick and easy, so don’t worry about spending large amounts of time to clean. Taking the little steps after each use will minimize your work even more, so make the above sauna cleaning tips a habit. 

With the proper care and attention, your sauna will give you stellar performance for years to come. Make your sauna cleaning easier by taking the small steps along the way to prevent any issues from forming. Learning how to clean a sauna takes no time at all, and has long-lasting results.

Scroll to Top