Can You Wear Shoes in a Sauna?

lady entering a sauna

No, you cannot wear shoes in a sauna. Wearing a pair of shoes is unhygienic and will cause discomfort. Sauna bathing is best enjoyed barefoot. If you’re using a public sauna you can wear a pair of flip-flops or sliders for hygiene. Check the rules before you enter to make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear.


Key Takeaways

• No, you cannot wear shoes in a sauna
• Sauna is best enjoyed barefoot
• Wearing shoes is unhygienic and will cause discomfort
• If using a public sauna, you can wear flip-flops or sliders


Here’s Why You Cannot Wear Shoes in a Sauna

Wearing shoes in a sauna is a bad idea. They are unhygienic, uncomfortable, and will lead to an accumulation of sweat around your feet. Below are the key reasons you should not wear any footwear in a sauna

woman in a sauna wearing a white towel

Unhygienic

Wearing shoes in a sauna is unhygienic. Saunas are places where people like to unwind and relax. And, cleanliness is key when it comes to enjoying your sauna experience. Wearing outdoor shoes in a sauna will carry dirt and debris from outside into the sauna cabin.

Shoes worn outdoors accumulate dirt, dust, and microbes. They pick them up from the surfaces you walk on – streets, floors, and sidewalks. And, if you wear these shoes into a sauna you will transfer these contaminants to the sauna floor and benches.

Microbes Thrive

To make matters worse, microbes thrive in the hot damp environment of a sauna. So introducing them by wearing shoes is double jeopardy. Once they get in there they grow and multiply very quickly thanks to the high temperature and high humidity levels.

• High Temperature

Most sauanas run at 158°F to 212°F (70°C to 100°C). Many microbes found on the soles of your shoes have adapted to survive and multiply in these high-temperature conditions.

• Humidity

While some saunas are dry, others are high humidity. Especially when water is added to the hot rocks. The moisture in the air promotes microbial growth. Most microbes need moisture to survive.

Foot Discomfort

Another reason you shouldn’t wear shoes in a sauna is – discomfort. Shoes are designed to fit snuggly around your feet and offer protection from the world outside. But this is bad news when relaxing inside a sauna.

barefeet in a sauna - not wearing shoes

Shoes will have the effect of insulating your feet. And once they begin to heat up they will trap hot air on the inside. This will cause your feet to become uncomfortably hot.

Additionally, as your feet become warm and relaxed they change shape. And, wearing a pair of shoes restricts this free movement and prevents this freedom of tissue movement and relaxation. The shoes will feel tight and uncomfortable as the heat of the sauna takes effect.


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Unpleasant Odor

Shoes worn in a sauna will heat up. And, any unpleasant odors will be greatly magnified. Things can quickly become unpleasant if you are wearing a pair of shoes that have been sweated in earlier that day. Trapped sweat and moisture lead to bacterial and fungal growth. And, with that, comes unpleasant odors.

Respect for Fellow Sauna Users

Finally, out of respect for your fellow sauna users, you should avoid wearing shoes. For the reasons mentioned above, you will cause offense by wearing shoes while sauna bathing. A sauna cabin is an intimate environment. And, when you share it with other people you should be mindful of how your actions affect those around you.

Hygiene and personal space are of paramount importance in the confined space of a sauna. And, to avoid offending, leave your shoes in the changing room. Nobody wants to see them on the inside.


What About Public Saunas?

If you’re using a public sauna you will be sharing the space with strangers. This means you may want to protect the soles of your feet for the purpose of hygiene. In this case, you should wear a pair of flip-flops, sliders, or pool sandals.

man and woman in a Finnish sauna

Check with the management team before choosing your footwear to make sure you are not breaking any rules. And, never wear regular street footwear into a sauna. This will carry dirt and debris from the outdoors into the sauna cabin. This is the last thing you want to do and could earn you a reprimand from staff and fellow sauna users.


What Happens If You Wear Shoes in a Sauna?

First up, you’ll get some funny looks. Your fellow sauna users will not be impressed. You may be asked to step outside and take them off. If you’re using a public sauna there will be a set of rules. And, chief among these will be ‘no outdoor clothes may be worn inside the sauna’. If you choose to ignore these rules you may be asked to leave the facility.

people wearing flip flop sandals - not shoes in a sauna

Then there are all the practical issues mentioned above – poor hygiene, foot discomfort, and unpleasant odors. If you insist on wearing shoes inside the cabin you will contaminate the area and reduce its cleanliness. You’ll suffer foot discomfort thanks to the high heat levels and the restrictive nature of shoes.

And, lastly, there will most likely be an unpleasant odor emanating from your footwear thanks to an accumulation of sweat and microbes. Barefoot is the best way to go. And, if you feel the need to wear something on your soles – reach for a pair of flip-flops or sliders.


About the Author

ELLIE COLE

• Health & Wellness Consultant

Ellie is a fully trained and highly skilled massage therapist. Hailing from sunny Florida, she brings a wealth of expertise to the health and wellness realm. She holds a LST qualification from the esteemed Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences and specializes in techniques that promote relaxation and healing.

Her experience extends beyond massage and encompasses a diverse range of therapies including infrared sauna. She developed her expertise at the Equinox Sports Club in San Francisco and has led sessions in pilates fusion, outdoor run clubs, and vinyasa yoga. Ellie is highly regarded for her ability to tailor treatments to individual needs.

When not immersed in the world of holistic wellness and local sports and fitness clubs she enjoys exploring Florida’s natural beauty and participating in outdoor activities. With her unique blend of expertise, experience, and passion for wellness Ellie looks forward to helping you discover the benefits of sauna and sauna therapy.


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