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HOW TO DO A SPA AT HOME

Routine Care

Once in a while, your sauna needs some special care. Here’s a look at the mild nuisances you are likely to encounter at one time or another.

Dirty Floors. Sweep or vacuum the sauna interior periodically to remove dirt, hair, and other debris. Depending on how many bathers use the sauna, the floor may need to be washed regularly to maintain cleanliness. If the floor beneath the duckboards is concrete or ceramic tile, remove the duckboards, wet-mop the floor with a mild cleaning solution, and rinse well. Wipe down the duck-boards with a mild surface cleaner and water and replace them after the floor has completely dried. The duckboards may be lightly sanded as needed to remove stubborn soil and stains.

Wet Floors. Use only one or two ladles full of water over the hot rocks at a time. Otherwise, the excess water will cool the rocks and drip to the floor. If too much water has been used you will need to mop up puddles or lift duck-boards to enable the floor beneath to dry.

Dirty Benches and Walls. The benches and walls can be washed with a mild soap or detergent dissolved in water. This should be adequate for removing most dirt and perspiration stains. Do not use harsh cleansers or ammonia, which can damage the wood and turn it gray. When cleaning, pay extra attention to areas people touch frequently: benches, doors, and controls. Finally, rinse away any soap residue with a damp cloth and clean water; however, avoid using too much water, which can darken the wood. Never hose down the interior of the sauna.

4 This prefabricated sauna house includes a spacious sauna, a shower, a dressing room, and a porch for cooling down between sessions. A nearby pool allows bathers to plunge into refreshing water, in much the same way early sauna users jumped into a nearby lake or pond to cool off.

Uneven Doors. Over time some swelling or shrinkage of the door may occur, especially in cold winter climates where there’s a dramatic change in humidity from season to season. Depending on the style of door, you might be able to make some adjustments to ensure a better fit. You can refer to your sauna’s owner’s manual for instructions on how to do this.

Dented or Scratched Wood. Depending on how deep the dent or scratch is, you might be able to remove it with a light sanding using fine-grit sandpaper.

Burned-Out Lights. Traditional lightbulbs tend to burn out faster in the sauna environment than in the rest of the home. When it’s time to replace the bulb, choose one that is rated for the same wattage as the fixture. A rough service bulb, like the kind used in automobiles, will last longer. For a cozier sauna environment, use amber-colored lightbulbs, which produce a softer glow.

Grimy Heater. Over time the heater can become dirty or speckled with water spots. If the heater has a stainless-steel casing, you can clean it with a mild, nonabrasive cleaner or a special stainless-steel cleaner. Never use steel wool or scouring pads to clean the metal; these will scratch the surface and leave behind iron specks that will create rust stains.

Soiled Rocks. If anything other than clean water and sauna fragrances is spilled over the rocks, you’ll need to clean them. Allow the rocks to cool completely, then soak them in a mild detergent solution, using a sponge or rag to clean them. Rinse them thoroughly and allow them to dry before placing them back in the heater. Also, clean the heater of any foreign substance prior to placing the rocks inside. Finally, gradually build heat in the sauna to totally dry out the rocks.

A conventional sauna heater allows you to ladle (or throw) small amounts of water over the rocks to create a burst of steam. The rise in humidity makes the sauna feel hotter an experience the Finnish call loyly.

Stagnant Water in Buckets. Never allow water to stand in the bucket for more than a day. When it’s not in use, empty and clean the bucket before storing it. If you are using a metal bucket instead of a wooden one, don’t set it on the top bench, because the high temperatures there could make the bucket too hot to handle.

Good housekeeping will help you maintain your sauna’s pristine condition, especially when combined with the diligent use of clean towels on the benches. In fact, with so few components, there is very little that can go wrong, making saunas as easy to care for as your refrigerator. And when was the last time you gave much thought to your icebox?

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