Have you ever wondered what to wear in a sauna? While some cultures like to sauna naked, this just isn’t an option for most of us. When choosing clothes for a sauna session, our advice is to go for something loose-fitting, comfortable, and breathable. Below we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about what to wear in the sauna.
WHAT TO WEAR IN THE SAUNA
Visiting a sauna for the first time can be a daunting experience if you are a novice. There are all kinds of questions surrounding proper sauna etiquette. What are the key do’s and don’ts? How should you behave? And, most importantly what clothes should you use? Don’t worry – we’ve got your back. This quick step-by-step guide will fill you in on exactly what to wear in a sauna and what you need to avoid.
JUMP TO CONTENT
- Use a Towel
- Naked Sauna
- Sauna Hats
- Sauna Footwear
- What Not to Wear
- How to Prepare For a Sauna
- What To Wear In an Infrared Sauna
In reality, most of us are going to choose to wear some clothing – even if it is for a home sauna. And, the most practical solution is swimwear. Swimwear covers all the essentials while still exposing as much of your skin as possible. This way you will have as much bare skin exposed directly to the sauna heat while still protecting your modesty.
Swimsuits, bikinis, and bathing suits all work well for women. And, swimming trunks are a good choice for men. Try and choose something loose-fitting. You don’t want to be sitting in anything that feels tight and restrictive when you begin heating up.
Where possible, aim to choose clothing that is made using breathable material. Breathable materials allow heat to freely pass through the fabric. Synthetic materials tend to trap heat and can leave you feeling uncomfortable.
Avoid swimwear made of spandex, PVC, or polyester. Examples of breathable materials include cotton, linen, and bamboo – with cotton being the most widely available when it comes to swimwear.
And perhaps the most important point when choosing what to wear in the sauna is to go for something that feels comfortable. A sauna session should be a deeply relaxing and detoxifying experience. To completely unwind and enjoy the session to the full you need to wear something that feels comfortable.
AVOID METAL PARTS
A golden rule when it comes to deciding what to wear in a sauna is to avoid anything with metal parts. If you own a bikini, swimsuit, or bathing shorts that are decorated with metal accessories – leave them at home. They should not be used in a sauna.
Metal is a highly conductive material. And, when you place it in a sauna it becomes very hot, very quickly. If your swimwear is decorated with metallic features these will soon overheat, lead to discomfort, and in the worse cases can burn your skin.
USE A TOWEL
The use of a towel during a sauna session is essential. Whether you intend to sauna naked or wear some bathing clothes you still need to take a towel. Many sauna enthusiasts wear just a towel while in the sauna – you can just wrap it around your chest or your waist.
Towels are great for protecting your privacy and for soaking up sweat. If you intend to use a public sauna and wear just a towel – you should run this by management beforehand to avoid any potential embarrassment.
If you wear a swimsuit or swimming shorts – you should still use a towel during your session. It’s common courtesy to sit on your towel rather than sitting directly on the sauna bench. The proper use of a towel in a sauna has both hygiene and safety benefits.
HYGIENE & SAFETY
When you sit on a towel it will soak up most of your sweat. This helps prevent the spread of germs and keeps the sauna clean. No one wants to sit in a pool of someone’s sweat so you’ll be showing some respect to your fellow sauna users. In fact, many sauna users bring in a smaller hand towel to periodically wipe away excess sweat.
There’s also the safety advantage of using a towel. By sitting on a folded towel you prevent direct contact between you and the sauna bench. Sauna benches can become very hot and many users experience discomfort when they first sit on a sauna bench. For better comfort and safety we advise you to sit on a towel.
Did you know a traditional sauna is often enjoyed completely naked in Finland? The Finnish have a long and proud history when it comes to sauna and many believe it is best enjoyed naked. So, if you feel comfortable sitting in a sauna in your birthday suit – why not give it a try?
But be careful, you can’t just walk into your local public sauna with no clothes on. There are standard public sauna rules surrounding most saunas available for public use. And in the US, very few allow nude sauna.
However, if you have a traditional home sauna – why not give it a try with no clothes on? It will be a freeing experience and with the absence of clothes, your bare skin will feel the full benefits of sauna – from head to toe.
Have you ever tried wearing a sauna hat? A sauna hat is a specially designed hat for wearing in the sauna. They are worn to protect the surface of your head from intense heat and they allow the wearer to remain in the sauna for longer periods.
The surface of your head can become uncomfortably hot because hot air rises to the surface. And, when you are sitting inside a sauna cabin this means your head is going to be exposed to the hottest air.
Wearing a sauna hat creates an effective physical barrier between your head and this super hot air. This means you will feel more comfortable and can remain inside and enjoy longer sessions – with potentially greater health and relaxation benefits.
When it comes to what footwear to wear in a sauna you have two options. You can go barefoot or you can wear shower sandals. If you are using a public sauna you need to consider other sauna users. Check to see if the sauna has any rules regarding footwear. Some places will encourage the use of footwear while others prohibit it.
If you are using a home sauna – you can set the rules. Just go with whatever feels most comfortable. Some people like the feel of having their feel completely free from footwear. Others like to wear something light like shower sandals, sliders, or flip-flops.
Light footwear can help protect your feet from any germs that are on the tiles or the sauna floor. If you use a shared space with bare feet you could pick up athlete’s foot. Never wear outdoor shoes in a sauna. This could carry dirt and germs from the outdoors into an environment that should be kept clean.
What is a sauna suit? A sauna suit is a special type of outfit made from waterproof materials used to stimulate sweating. Wearing a sauna suit triggers a profuse sweat. They are sometimes called rubber suits or sweat suits and are worn to dehydrate the body and temporarily reduce body weight. Wearing a sauna suit can be very dangerous and we do not encourage its use.
Professional athletes such as boxers sometimes wear a sauna suit to make weight for a fight. Any weight loss is temporary and is caused by the loss of water by sweating. Dehydration can be very dangerous and the water lost must be replaced as soon as possible. They are not an effective tool for long-term weight loss.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR IN A SAUNA
Now that we know what to wear in the sauna, let’s take a look at what you should avoid. What should you not wear in a sauna? There are some items you should avoid – see the list below.
TIGHT FITTING CLOTHES
Don’t wear any tight-fitting clothes in a sauna. Your clothing choice should feel comfortable, be loose fitting, and allow some room to expand. It’s going to get hot in there and once you start sweating you’ll regret choosing any tight-fitting clothes. Always choose something that feels loose and airy.
Remove all jewelry before entering the sauna. Rings, necklaces, ear-ring, and bracelets – take them all off before going inside. Jewelry can get very hot inside a sauna, especially metallic jewelry. And as it begins to heat up you will feel discomfort where it contacts your skin. Left unchecked you could even suffer minor burns.
SWEATY GYM CLOTHES
Don’t enter a sauna wearing sweating gym clothes. If you’ve just finished a workout routine and want to unwind in the sauna afterward – have some respect for your fellow sauna users – and take a shower before entering the sauna. Once you’re fresh and clean throw on some clean swimwear and you’re good to go.
CREAMS & LOTIONS
Don’t apply creams and lotions to your skin before you enter a sauna. As tempting as it might seem to oil yourself up in some sweet-smelling fragrant body oil – just don’t do it before entering the sauna. Body oils and creams will clog up your pores and interfere with the natural sweating process.
Don’t take any electronic devices into the sauna. To get the full benefit out of a sauna session you need to completely switch off and unwind. Sauna can be a deeply relaxing experience and can help relieve stress and anxiety. Leave your phones and iPads outside the sauna and give yourself a break. For more see – Can You Bring a Phone into a Sauna?
HOW TO PREPARE FOR SAUNA
To get the most out of your sauna session – preparation is key. Once you have carefully prepared for your sweat session you can sit back, relax, and safely enjoy your sauna time.
TAKE A SHOWER
The first thing you should do to prepare for a sauna is to take a shower. This way you will feel fresh and clean and be able to fully relax and unwind once you are inside. Also, taking a shower before you begin your session will help keep the sauna clean. It will prevent any dust and grime that has accumulated on your skin from entering the sauna.
If you’re using a public sauna you will have to share a small enclosed space. We all appreciate it when our fellow sauna users wash before entering the cabin. No one wants to be sitting next to someone that is emitting an unpleasant odor. You can think of taking a shower as a mark of respect for your fellow sauna users.
The next step, once your shower is complete, is to dress appropriately. While some saunas allow naked bathing – most don’t. And, the majority of people feel more comfortable wearing some form of clothing to protect their modesty.
As we’ve covered above – reach for something comfortable, loose-fitting, and breathable. Swimwear works well and cotton is a good choice of material. Avoid synthetic materials as they can become very sweaty and trap heat. And, always bring a towel to sit on and mop away excess sweat.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Hydration is key when it comes to safely enjoying your time in a sauna. And, sometimes people overlook this basic step. You’ll need to drink plenty of water to make sure you stay fully hydrated during and after your sauna session.
In fact, we recommend you drink three pints of water throughout your sauna session. And, you should begin hydrating before you enter the sauna. For more information check out – How Much Water Should You Drink in a Sauna?
WHAT SHOULD YOU WEAR IN AN INFRARED SAUNA?
What about infrared sauna? Are there different clothing requirements for infrared? Let’s take a look at what to wear in an infrared sauna. When it comes to infrared sauna you can apply the same clothing guidelines as you would for traditional sauna.
You want to cover as little of your body as possible while still protecting your dignity. Swimwear and towels are your best bet. So, although infrared saunas and traditional use different methods to heat your body – the clothing requirements for both are the same. If you want to learn a little more about infrared sauna, check out – Best Infrared Saunas 2023.
WHAT TO WEAR IN THE SAUNA FAQ
Here’s a round-up of the questions we get asked when talking about what to wear in a sauna.
WHAT SHOULD A WOMAN WEAR IN A SAUNA?
A woman should wear swimwear in a sauna if she doesn’t want to go nude or use just a towel. Bathing suits and bikinis are good choices. You should choose something loose-fitting, breathable, and comfortable.
CAN YOU WEAR NOTHING IN A SAUNA?
Yes, you can wear nothing in some saunas. Some saunas have a nude policy and users don’t wear any clothes. Nude saunas are especially popular in Finland. Always check with sauna management before entering a sauna nude or you could be in for an embarrassing experience.
WHAT DO YOU WEAR TO A SAUNA SESSION?
You should wear swimwear to a sauna session. Bathing suits, bikinis, and swimming shorts are good choices for sauna. Always wear something loose-fitting, breathable, and comfortable.
DO YOU WEAR A TOWEL IN THE SAUNA?
Yes, you can wear a towel in the sauna. If you choose to sauna naked you can wrap a towel around your waist or chest to protect your privacy. Even if you choose to wear swimwear it is still a good idea to use a towel in the sauna. You can fold it up and sit on it. And, you can use it to wipe away excess sweat.
CAN I TAKE MY PHONE IN THE SAUNA?
No, you shouldn’t take your phone into the sauna. Most public saunas will prohibit it. And, if you have a home sauna you should leave your phone outside. To fully relax and unwind in a sauna you should not take any personal devices with you.