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Working with DFL ensures that hydrothermal spa areas have been designed with safety and hygiene at their core. 

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Maintaining good hygiene in hydrothermal areas starts during the design and build process. The wellness benefits of these areas is dependent on heat and moisture—two elements that are typically very hard on building materials. This means understanding the building techniques and materials that minimize the impact of heat and water is imperative. And, of course, vigilant maintenance and cleaning protocols must be followed to ensure the health and safety of all guests.



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Does the design incorporate features that ensure good hygiene? For example, rounded corners are better than square corners for seating areas/benches to facilitate easier cleaning, while sloped surfaces are a must to minimize water pooling on seats or other flat surfaces. There also needs to be an easy pathway for water and cleaning solutions to reach in-floor drainage.

In addition, surfaces for benches, floors and walls in thermal rooms should be designed to minimize the number of potential joints (i.e., grout lines). This makes cleaning and disinfecting easier and has the added bonus of being longer lasting and requiring less maintenance.


All building materials and finishes should be chosen based on how well they can withstand the effects of steam, sweat, oils and cleaning agents. This might seem like a “no brainer” but it’s often overlooked when in the throes of creating a dream spa.


Rely on ‘specialist’ hydrothermal building materials, such as mortar-coated, expanded, polystyrene hard foam to clad walls, floors, steps, benches and shelves to make them completely waterproof and mold-resistant—this is the best protection against keeping mold and bacteria from forming.

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Regardless of the type of thermal room or cabin you have —sauna, steam bath, hammam, relaxation room, etc.— ventilation is crucial. It not only keeps the oxygen levels correct, but it also ensures that rooms with high humidity get the opportunity to dry out.


If you’re concerned about ventilation issues, Correct any oversights asap so mold, fungus or bacteria spores won't take hold.


When reviewing air quality and ventilation, note that air in a sauna should be refreshed 7 to 10 times per hour, while the accepted air exchange rate for steam rooms is 6 times per hour.


No matter how beautiful these spaces might be, they also must be cleanable—and, therefore, reachable. We suggest taking some time to consider the design of these rooms from the perspective of the person(s) who will ultimately have to clean it.


How will they get in and out of an area? Where will cleaning products be stored? What about access to electricity for any cleaning devices? Is there access to water—and an easy pathway for water and cleaning solutions to reach in-floor drainage?

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Provide inhalation masks, protective glasses or full-face visors and gloves as standard protection when handling chemical cleaners; use small brushes to ensure all corners and niches are cleaned. In addition, consider adding a portable UVC air sanitizer to your hydrothermal hygiene toolkit. 

Cleaning a Steam Room, Hammam or Other Tiled Room

The truth is, cleaning a steam room, hammam, or other tiled room, is really as simple as cleaning a bathroom. Regular soap and water will clean the surfaces and even wash germs away and cut down their quantity; but, to actually kill germs, you must sanitize or disinfect all surfaces after cleaning them. The best way to do this is to follow the CDC’s recommendations to use cleaning products with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol.

Cleaning a Sauna

Disinfecting a sauna is similar to a steam room: first clean the surfaces with soapy water and then clean the benches with 3% hydrogen peroxide straight from the bottle.

Avoid Commercial Steam Cleaners

If you’re planning on a deep clean, avoid commercial steam cleaners or pressure washers because they can damage tile grout and remove the wood’s natural protective surface. Instead, opt for a domestic-quality, low pressure steam cleaner as an excellent way to remove excess, residual dirt and body oils before any of the above cleaning processes are undertaken.


Ventilation and Air Exchange 

  • Air in saunas and steamrooms should be refreshed/exchanged six times an hour

  • Instruct staff to keep doors ajar at the close of business to increase ventilation and assist in drying the rooms

  • Consider adding a portable UVC air sanitizer to your hydrothermal hygiene toolkit

Follow Best Practices

  • Post clear instructions of hygiene requirements (such as showering before entering any thermal room).

  • Use recommended, high-quality consumables (aromatherapy, salts, body oils) to avoid damage to equipment/materials and to ensure scents are all natural.

  • Hydrothermal equipment requires high-quality, potable water. Poor quality water can damage equipment, increase maintenance frequency and create a negative user experience, so consider water softeners and filters as essential items.

Monitor All Areas

  • Monitor steam rooms, saunas, etc. to ensure they are set to the correct temperatures and humidity levels.

  • In addition to having a central Building Management System, thermal cabins and pools should be physically checked at regular intervals (typically every hour).

  • An on-going routine maintenance program must be in place in accordance with equipment manufacturer’s instructions to minimize hazards and ensure bather safety.

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Download the FREE Guide to Hydrothermal Spa & Wellness Development Standards

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