How To Clean A Sauna

Wonder how you should clean your first barrel sauna? Or perhaps you might be a gym owner wondering how to clean your public sauna safely…

In all cases, you’ve come to the right place. 

Cleaning a sauna is not that difficult, there’s only some things to be aware of when you decide to maintain your valuable spa.

So, let me show you how to clean a sauna, the right way!

Key Takeaways

  • You can mop the floor with a damp cloth using mild detergent, and vacuum or sweep for extra dirt.
  • Brush the indoor wood using warm water and chemical-free, mild detergent. For extreme cases, sand the wood.
  • If mold develops, spray some bleach on it and let it dry before re-using the sauna.
  • The best way to keep your sauna healthy is by telling users to shower before entering, wear the right clothes, and open the door when not using it.
  • Clean the floors after every usage, the wood once a week, and the heaters once in a while. Change the rocks once a year.
  • Avoid pressure washing the interior, or using a too wet cloth as it damages the wood.
  • Natural solutions and mild detergents are way better than chemicals and disinfectants to avoid damaging the wood.

Why Is It Important To Clean A Sauna?

In a hot and steamy place, where sweat is everywhere, and sweaty, naked people sit and touch the wood and the whole interior….it is important to clean it!

importance of cleaning a sauna

Here’s why it’s important:

  • Avoid mold forming
  • Avoid bad smells in the sauna
  • It increases the effectiveness of the sauna
  • Increase its lifespan

And an investment such as a barrel sauna, lifespan is important…

How To Clean A Sauna?

Cleaning the sauna is relatively simple, but there are some do’s and don’t you have to be aware of.

Remember: When cleaning your sauna, turn it off until the temperature is normal again. Do not deep clean your sauna while it is hot…detergents and products will not react well.

Now, let’s explore each sauna part individually.

The Floor

Cleaning a sauna floor is like any regular floor: Mop it with a damp cloth, or any mop you have, and use a mild detergent.

Chemicals in detergent or any cleaning product can be harmful in the long run, so it’s always better to clean with natural solution or chemical-free products such as water and lemon or vinegar.

For any debris or dirt, a regular sweep or vacuum can do the trick just fine!

Sauna Wood (Bench, Seats, Walls)

Cleaning sauna wood is different from regular wood. That’s because the variation of temperature, especially hot, can cause different reactions in the products used. 

One common example is paint or any artificial finish used on the wood. These coats can overreact to the heat, making it way too hot to sit on during usage. It also prevents the wood to absorb and release heat for moisture.

For benches and seats, brush the stains with a mild detergent (again, chemical-free). You can use warm water, or even a damp cloth (but not too wet as it damages the dry wood) to scrub over the stain.

how to clean sauna wood

If the stains won’t go, then your best option is to use sandpaper to sand the wood to get that new wood look. Just make sure you cover the rocks and heater when doing so. The debris or grit can go into the sauna heater. 

Heaters And Rocks

Although not as frequently, heaters and rocks are also part of your sauna maintenance. 

You should clean your heaters once in a while, depending on the usage. After the heater is cold, you can clean it with vinegar (natural cleaning solutions or specialized solutions) and a sponge. 

As for rocks, you need to replace them once or twice every year. You can also clean them with warm water to remove debris on the surface.

Generally, you can tell you need to inspect the heater/rocks area when the sauna takes longer than usual to heat up, as it hurts the effectiveness of the sauna and limits the benefits you get from it.

Buttons and Accessories

The buttons, switches, buckets, door handles, and everything that is often touched in the sauna also need to be addressed.

things to disinfect in a sauna

You can disinfect them with any natural disinfectant such as lemon water or vinegar, or again any sauna-specific solution.

PS. The ventilation grates must also be disinfected as well. 


Sometimes, mold can form in your sauna. That’s normal since it tends to be a moist environment, ideal for mold.

Treat it immediately with bleach or with a sauna solution. As mentioned earlier, make sure the sauna is turned off.

This is one of the exceptions when we are using chemicals, so make sure the sauna is not hot, and resume your sauna bathing only when the bleach is gone.

The best way to treat mold is to prevent it. That can be done by airing the sauna when not using it. Simply leave the door open to prevent a moist environment, and keep your sauna clean.

The Air In The Room

Since we all know that funguses and bacteria’s prime environment is moist and humid, it’s important to address the air in the room of the sauna.

The solution is simple: After using the sauna, keep the door open to let the air out and fresh air in.

This reduces the humidity of your sauna and significantly lowers the chances of mold and bacteria thriving.

Outside Of The Sauna

If you happen to have an outdoor sauna, like a barrel sauna, then pressure washing the outside usually does the trick, since it’s already weatherproof and made to handle the outside.

For indoor saunas, it’s better to simply wipe the outside with a microfiber towel (or damp cloth) to get rid of dust.

More About Sauna

Like this guide, check out more sauna posts!

How Many Times Do You Need To Clean The Sauna?

how to clean a sauna: beautiful sauna
Who doesn’t want their sauna to look like this…come on!

When it comes to how often you should be cleaning a sauna, it depends on each part.

Cleaning it after every use is not very convenient, and you have to remember that a sauna cleans itself due to the high temperature. 

  • The floors should be cleaned after every use. That’s because this is where the sweat will accumulate while you’re in there. Just a quick pass of the mop will do the trick. 
  • You should clean the wood (bench, wall, seats) at least once a week, or any time you see a sweat stain. For grit sandpaper, once or twice a year is good enough.
  • The heater can be cleaned once a month, and the rocks should be changed once or twice a year. Just remember that when the sauna isn’t heating up properly, then it’s your sign to clean this part.
  • Obviously, anytime you see mold, you should address it.

Things To Avoid Cleaning The Sauna With

Here’s a list of products/methods to AVOID when cleaning and maintaining the sauna:

  • Heavy Chemicals¬†
  • Pressure Washing the interior of the sauna (you will ruin the wood)
  • Paint or wood finish
  • Wet cloth (the wood should be cleaned with a slightly moist cloth, not too wet).
  • -Disinfectants..they are not suitable for wood

Here’s what’s okay to clean the sauna with:

  • Natural disinfectants/cleaners such as lemon water and vinegar
  • Mild detergents, such as Joy, Ivory, or even Dawn. Eco-friendly should be your priority
  • Bleach for mold only
  • Brushes, damp cloths, and microfiber cloth for scrubbing stains
  • Sandpaper¬†

What Happens If You Don’t Keep Your Sauna Clean?

As much as a sauna is capable of cleaning itself, it does need our maintenance and regular cleaning. But what happens if we don’t? 

Is it dangerous? Is it toxic? Here’s what happens when your sauna isn’t clean:


We already discussed about mold in this article, but let’s understand why it’s dangerous for you.

Mold can lead to allergy reactions, infections, illnesses, and other health-related problems such as skin problems (eczema).

It can also contaminate the air, and in a sauna, that isn’t ideal, considering you’re there to get healthier. 


One of the biggest results of not cleaning your sauna is the most straightforward: your sauna will smell bad.

That’s because not cleaning forms bacteria, which thrive in moist environments. Also, the dirt left untouched in there can produce a bad smell as well.

Lower Life Span of Your Sauna

Over time, the material (especially the wood) can degrade and lose its effectiveness, making your sauna’s lifespan shorter. 

That’s not fun, considering buying a sauna is not that cheap…

Plus, as we discussed earlier, it hurts the effectiveness of the sauna if not cleaned well such as with the heater and rocks, where it can take longer to heat up if they are left dirty.

Health Problems…Yes or No?

In the sauna world, there is a big debate whether a dirty sauna is considered toxic, and can cause health problems.

The simple answer is: No, there are no studies that confirm that a dirty sauna can cause significant damage to one’s health. 

That’s because the microbes found in a sauna are part of the human flora.

Of course, mold forming is another thing. But generally, the microbes and bacteria in a sauna die pretty quickly because of the dryness and heat of the sauna

To catch any disease from the sauna, you would have to be in direct contact with another person, which is pretty rare.

But that does not mean that you shouldn’t clean your sauna…

As we saw, a dirty sauna is, quite simply, disgusting, and it hurts the sauna itself, as well as ruins the experience.

People with lower immune systems may get sick from bacteria in the sauna.


In conclusion, there are many reasons why you should clean your sauna, but the most important one is common sense. In a place where people sweat, hygiene should be considered.

And as you saw in this article, cleaning the sauna is not rocket science…it’s like cleaning any part of the house, and does not require specific procedures: Simply scrub and mop!

And by far the best way to keep your sauna clean is to think of preventive methods, and what better way to do so than to ask every user to shower before entering the sauna?

This will solve 60% of your problems right there.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I clean a sauna?

To clean a sauna, start by removing any debris and wiping down all surfaces with a damp cloth. Use a sauna cleaner or a mixture of warm water and detergent to scrub away any dirt or sweat stains. Rinse thoroughly and ensure proper ventilation.

What is the best way to maintain a sauna?

To keep your sauna in top condition, regularly clean and disinfect all surfaces. Use sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots on the wood. Keep the door open when not in use to promote airflow.

How can I protect the sauna bench?

Protect the sauna bench by wiping it down after each use to remove sweat and oils. Consider using a sauna-specific cleaner to maintain cleanliness and prevent staining. Sand the bench occasionally to keep it smooth.

What are some tips for cleaning the sauna interior?

For cleaning the sauna interior, focus on the cedar wood surfaces. Use a damp cloth and mild detergent to wipe down all surfaces, making sure to dry them thoroughly afterward. Regular cleaning will make it easier to maintain your sauna over time.

How often do you need to clean a sauna?

It is recommended to clean your sauna at least once a month, or more frequently if it gets heavy use. Regular cleaning will prevent dirt buildup and prolong the life of your sauna.

Can I use bleach to clean the sauna?

While bleach can be effective for disinfecting surfaces, it is not recommended for regular sauna cleaning, unless it is to remove mold. Bleach may damage the wood and affect the sauna’s aroma. Opt for mild detergents or sauna cleaners for routine maintenance. 

How do you clean sweat out of a sauna?

The best way to clean sweat out of the sauna is to mop it if it is on the floor. On the sauna wood, use a brush or a damp cloth (or microfiber) and scrub the sweat with warm water and mild detergent (too strong will damage the wood). For extreme cases, sand the wood.

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