Cleaning a commercial Finnish sauna
May 19, 2021
With the opening up of sauna and spa venues across the UK and the return to a certain sense of normality, it’s natural that users will be particularly suspicious of sitting with people within a communal bathing environment. Regularly cleaning your Finnish sauna will ensure the facility lasts longer, and it makes for a much more pleasant and hygienic experience for your customers. It’s good practice to clean down everything daily and large commercial facilities should have bi-annual servicing - which will often include sanding down wood, steam cleaning and changing sauna heater stones.
Cleaning a sauna properly is hugely important especially for commercial installations. A decent-sized spa or hotel will have hundreds if not thousands of people going through the room every day. Each one of them will sweat, leave skin particles and skin born, transmittable bacteria behind. In Finland, people are fastidious about the cleanliness of the sauna and often use a cleaning chemical such as sauna clean which dilutes with water and is then applied to all of the sauna timber and benches using a medium-stiff brush. You can be a lot tougher with the brush than you’d think on the benches and floor and it won’t damage the wood. Do make sure to clean the underside of all the benches and we always recommend a tiled floor with a drain in it so all of the dirt can be scrubbed onto the floor and washed away. After scrubbing down the sauna ideally use a hose to rinse the surfaces and then turn on the heater and leave the door ajar to help dry off the area quickly.
We recommend periodically applying a sealing barrier treatment. We use paraffin oil which is a highly stable white mineral oil, the main constituent in baby oil and massage oil. It’s dermatological, skin safe and acts as a superb barrier. Apply once the sauna is dried off and the humidity has evaporated. It will darken a little once it has been applied but it protects the wood and prevents any sweat and dirt from easily impregnating the wood. It also stops anything from getting ingrained in the wood meaning over its lifetime you’ll do less sanding back of the wood.
One great practice is to use seat covers or towels because both absorb a lot of the sweat and prevent it from soaking the timber. When you go to a sauna in Finland you have to sit on a towel. Lots of saunas and steam rooms in the UK are associated with swimming pools and chlorine which is particularly aggressive at temperature. Chlorinated water will attack the sauna wood and it can start to disintegrate as wood fibres become soft. Many cheap cabins sold to the commercial market come untreated whereas at Finnmark, we treat both sides of the wood to seal it and make sure it is as durable as possible. We offer a couple of service packages for residential installations - bronze and then silver for heavy use. We also offer gold and platinum services - both for commercial installations.
*Keep an eye out for our upcoming detailed sauna cleaning video