Sauna Maintenance Checklist

Maintaining a sauna is actually pretty easy. If you’ve selected a wood type specifically design for a sauna, you shouldn’t have to do much by the way of maintenance.

Our saunas are built of Clear Western Red Cedar, Black Taika, Nordic Spruce, or Clear Canadian Hemlock, which ensures they virtually last forever without rotting. Of course, there are many ways to make sure your sauna wood rots faster, like putting a shower in the sauna.

Alas, there are tens of thousands of saunas built every year around the world that will likely outlive their owners. Maintaining a sauna can be as involved or uninvolved as you choose, provided you built it right it should last forever with very minimal maintenance.

It’s always a good idea to install good fan systems outside of any sauna that uses an electric heater or a wood stove, since these types of saunas tend to put out far more heat and humidity than any infrared sauna.

For the most part, though, maintenance on a sauna is taken care of before you actually install or build it. If you’re planning to build your own sauna, care should be taken throughout the entire process to construct it in such a way that you will not have to maintain it after every use.

For the sake of conversation here, we’re going to talk about some of the easy things you can do to take care of your sauna in the long run. Proper sauna maintenance is not hard, however it is easy to neglect. Certain things, like propping the sauna door open after each use, should be done every single time you use your sauna.

How To Maintain A Sauna

Sauna maintenance is actually very easy. With a few basic, non time consuming care actions, ensuring proper sauna maintenance is actually incredibly simple. Neglect your sauna, and you’ll wish you hadn’t.

If you can choose one simple way to prolong the life of your sauna, it’s simply to keep the door slightly open after each use. This will help ensure that air flow naturally dries the room, reducing the risk of wood rotting or mold issues inside the sauna room. In the traditional sauna, water is thrown over the rocks of the sauna stove, which can lead to rotting on the wood walls over time.

Even the simple action of simply leaving the sauna door opened just a crack will allow it to naturally dry after each use. While you could put a fan inside your sauna after use, it’s really not necessary and almost nobody we know of does this.

Sauna Maintenance Checklist

  • Properly vent your sauna after each use by leaving the door open
  • Consider using a portable fan inside your sauna after each use to dry out the wood
  • Treat your sauna benches using Paraffin oil on a regular basis
  • Prop your sauna door open after each use, with fan running in dressing room
  • Under any circumstances, never paint or stain the inside of your sauna wood
  • Have an electrician check your sauna stove for wear annually
  • Properly drain any water from the inside of your sauna
  • Check your floor drain for hair or clogging
  • Prop up sauna floor boards if you have them
  • Use a hand brush to clean sauna walls if sweat stains develop
  • Wet mop floors after multiple uses
  • Replace any broken rocks from both electric and wood sauna stoves

The sauna maintenance checklist above was written to be as comprehensive as possible.

That includes everything you could possibly do to maintain a sauna and to be completely honest, most of the folks we know do absolutely nothing by the way of maintenance inside their sauna, outside of wiping down the benches occasionally.

In my own sauna, I try to take out the benches once a year to give them a good wipe down. Since my benches are completely removable, I’ll typically mop the floor at this time as well. While the custom saunas we build typically feature some sort of duck board flooring, my personal sauna does not.

I have kids, I use my sauna to wash them during the evenings and they end up getting soaked with water. The concrete floor isn’t smooth finished, so it provides adequate grip.

My sauna smells bad, what should I do?

A bad smelling sauna can actually be the result of several things. One of the most common reasons a sauna smells bad isn’t because of rot. Actually, it’s because of hair that can make it’s way onto the sauna stove! If your sauna smells bad, carefully inspect the sauna to make sure mold or rot isn’t forming on the walls, benches or sauna ceiling.

If you’ve thoroughly inspected the sauna and have found no evidence of rot, there are several things you can do. First, air the unit out for a week or longer. Saunas are designed to repel moisture, meaning the wood types used for sauna do an excellent job of letting moisture dispel from the wood surface and interior, so mold is not very common.

Bad smell in a new sauna?

If this is your first time operating your new sauna, your rocks may have to “burn off”. New sauna rocks are the most common culprit of a bad smell in a new sauna and the good news is that this is totally normal. Every time you replace the rocks in your sauna heater, you’ll likely have a different smell. The easiest way to combat the bad smell of new sauna rocks is simply to let the sauna stove heat and pour water over it.

Outside of the sauna rocks giving off a bad odor, sweat can build up on the sauna benches.

One of the most common issues users report when a new sauna smells bad is due to sweat lingering on the benches. Because benches are often built of pine, it’s recommended that you wash your benches every couple of uses to prevent sweat from absorbing into the wood. Bad smelling sauna benches are the main reason a new sauna smells bad.

If you’ve tried rinsing your benches, or lightly cleaning the sauna walls (though you shouldn’t have to clean your walls, ever), try using essential oils in the sauna. Essential oils not only improve your sauna experience while using the sauna, they also improve the smell when you leave. Whether you believe it or not, sauna wood seasons over time, and consistent essential oil use in the sauna can help create a great smelling sauna the longer you use it.

How do I get rid of burnt hair on my sauna stove?

While it sounds funny, it’s more common than you would think. The only way to get rid of burnt hair on the sauna stove is by turning the sauna stove on and letting it run. You can heat your sauna rocks by tossing water on the stove, if it’s appropriate, and keep the door open. Beware, burning off hair that may have accidentally ended up on the rocks of your sauna heater is a smelly process!

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