Choosing the Right Sauna Attire: Tips on What to Wear in a Sauna

Choosing the Right Sauna Attire: Tips on What to Wear in a Sauna

Deciding what to wear in a sauna shouldn’t be a cause for stress. Whether you’re stepping into a steamy room for the first time or are a seasoned sauna-goer, the key is to keep it simple, comfortable, and appropriate for the sauna culture you’re engaging with.

Learn the essentials and the specifics for different sauna types, from public to private, and traditional to modern. This article guides you through selecting sauna-appropriate attire that ensures safety, respects etiquette, and enhances your experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Sauna attire varies by setting: loose, breathable materials like cotton are recommended, swimwear or towels are standard in public saunas, while traditional saunas may have specific cultural norms such as nudity in Finnish saunas or special garments in Japanese and Korean saunas.

  • Essential sauna attire considerations include natural over synthetic fabrics for better air circulation and comfort, the use of towels for hygiene and modesty, and slip-resistant footwear to protect against hot surfaces and promote cleanliness.

  • Inappropriate sauna wear includes tight or synthetic clothing, which can cause overheating or restrict circulation, PVC materials, and metal accessories that may absorb excessive heat, as well as avoiding makeup and lotions to allow skin to breathe and detoxify naturally.

Decoding Sauna Dress Codes

Decoding Sauna Dress Codes

Choosing the perfect sauna attire goes beyond comfort and personal preference. It is integral to ensuring safety by avoiding burns from hot surfaces and upholding hygiene to keep benches clean. Understanding the differences between public saunas, private saunas, and traditional sauna settings is key to a pleasant sauna experience.

The dress codes in these settings vary, each respecting a different cultural norm or personal comfort level. Some general recommendations for sauna attire include:

  • Loose and breathable fabrics
  • Avoiding heavy or restrictive clothing
  • Wearing a towel or robe for modesty and comfort
  • Removing jewelry and accessories to prevent burns or discomfort

These guidelines help to ensure that you stay cool and comfortable during your sauna session

Public Sauna Protocols

Adherence to dress codes is paramount in public saunas. Individuals usually wear swimwear, such as a bathing suit, or cover themselves with a towel. Women commonly choose a swimsuit, bikini, sarong, or light t-shirt, while men often go for swim trunks or gym shorts.

Keep in mind that towels serve not only as a privacy shield but also play a vital role in maintaining hygiene by preventing direct contact with sauna benches.

Private Sauna Preferences

Private saunas offer more flexibility in terms of attire. Since these saunas are often adapted for personal use, attire can vary based on the individual’s preferences and the sauna’s intended use, such as yoga or relaxation. However, regardless of the activity, comfort remains a prime consideration.

Traditional Sauna Attire

The world of traditional saunas is a rich tapestry of cultural norms and traditions. Here are some examples:

  • In many traditional Finnish saunas, users typically go sauna naked or wear minimal clothing, signifying a return to natural basics.
  • In contrast, sauna culture in Japan, known as ‘onsen,’ often requires bathers to wear modest swimwear or special sauna kimonos.
  • In traditional Korean jjimjilbangs, it’s common to wear cotton shorts and t-shirts provided by the facilities.

Each tradition offers a unique perspective on sauna attire, reflecting the diverse practices around the globe.

The Essentials of Sauna Clothing

The Essentials of Sauna Clothing

Keeping a few key elements in mind when preparing for a sauna visit can significantly enhance your sauna experience. Selecting the right material, understanding the role of towels, and choosing appropriate footwear are just a few essentials to consider. These elements not only contribute to a more comfortable sauna session but also ensure your safety and hygiene.

Natural Fabrics Over Synthetic

Opting for natural fibers like cotton and linen over synthetic fabrics is advisable when choosing sauna wear. These natural materials promote better air circulation and moisture-wicking, helping to keep the skin dry and prevent excessive sweating during sauna sessions. Plus, they enhance the soothing effects of the sauna, contributing to a more pleasant experience.

The Role of Towels in Sauna Etiquette

The Role of Towels in Sauna Etiquette

Towels, though simple, play an integral part in sauna etiquette. Used for wrapping around the body or sitting on, they serve the dual purpose of protecting privacy and absorbing sweat. By doing so, they help in maintaining personal hygiene and ensuring that the sauna benches stay clean.

A soft, light, cotton towel is best suited for sauna use, offering comfort, optimal air flow, and effective sweat absorption. It’s not just a towel, but a perfect companion for your sauna experience.

Appropriate Footwear Choices

Selecting the right footwear for a sauna is equally important as choosing the appropriate attire. Slip-resistant flip flops or slippers are recommended to protect feet from hot surfaces while maintaining hygiene. Remember, you’re not just protecting your feet; you’re also contributing to a more hygienic sauna environment.

What Not to Wear for a Sauna Visit

Knowing what to wear in a sauna is just as important as understanding what not to wear. Here are some clothing items to avoid:

  • Synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester, as they can lead to overheating by trapping heat
  • Gym clothes
  • Plastic-zippered jackets
  • Buttoned shirts
  • Heavy cotton hoodies

These items, including dirty clothes, have the potential to trap heat and sweat, leading to overheating and discomfort.

The Perils of Tight Clothing

Tight clothes can pose a risk in the sauna environment. By trapping heat and restricting blood flow, they can hinder your body’s ability to cool down and detoxify, potentially leading to discomfort or even health risks.

Choosing loose cotton clothing as your workout clothes is a safer and more comfortable option in the sauna, as opposed to wearing a sauna suit.

Steering Clear of PVC and Metal

Another material to avoid in the sauna is PVC. It can cause discomfort and even present health risks due to poor ventilation. Also, beware of metal fasteners in swimwear which can lead to burns, as metal absorbs more heat in the sauna environment.

Makeup and Lotions: A No-No

Before stepping into the sauna, remember to remove makeup and refrain from applying lotions. These can clog pores, cause skin irritations, and prevent a comfortable and detoxifying experience.

After all, a sauna session is about letting your skin breathe and detox naturally.

Makeup and Lotions: A No-No

A sauna session can be much more than just heat therapy. With the right accessories, your sauna experience can be significantly enhanced, offering additional comfort, safety, and enjoyment.

Sauna Hats for Head Protection

Wearing a sauna hat adds more than just a touch of tradition to your sauna experience. It offers several benefits, including:

  • Keeping your head cool and comfortable
  • Providing protection against excessive heat in the sauna room
  • Helping to regulate body temperature by reducing head sweating.

Hydration Helpers

Maintaining hydration during a sauna session is key to preventing dehydration. Bringing a non-glass water vessel into the sauna is a wise move to ensure you can replenish lost fluids safely and conveniently.

Choosing the Right Cover-Ups...

Choosing the right cover-ups for a sauna is all about comfort and heat management. Options such as loose-fitting dresses, skirts, and oversized t-shirts provide comfort and prevent overheating.

Special Considerations for Infrared Saunas

Due to their distinctive operation, infrared saunas call for a few special considerations. With the heat directly penetrating the skin, it’s important to wear breathable fabric for effective light penetration and to consider weight loss apparel like sauna suits if you’re aiming for weight loss benefits.

Breathable Fabric for Light Penetration

When choosing attire for an infrared sauna, opt for breathable fabrics. These materials enhance comfort by controlling moisture and regulating temperature. More importantly, they allow effective penetration of infrared light, maximizing the benefits of your sauna session.

Weight Loss Apparel

Weight Loss Apparel

If you’re aiming for weight loss benefits, sauna suits can be a beneficial addition to your infrared sauna sessions. They are designed to amplify sweat production, leading to temporary weight loss. However, comfort and safety should always be your priority.

Sauna Etiquette and Hygiene Best Practices

A pleasant sauna experience isn’t solely about the right attire. Adhering to proper sauna etiquette and hygiene practices significantly contributes to a comfortable experience for both yourself and others.

Cleanliness Is Key

In the realm of saunas, cleanliness is indeed key. It’s recommended to shower with soap before entering the sauna to remove dirt and sweat. Wearing clean clothes and using a towel are also critical to maintaining a clean sauna environment.

Respecting Shared Spaces

Observing respect for shared spaces forms an integral part of sauna etiquette. When entering a public sauna, remember to leave your outdoor shoes outside to maintain cleanliness.

Maintaining a quiet, peaceful atmosphere is also important, ensuring a serene experience for everyone.


In conclusion, choosing the right sauna attire is a mix of personal comfort, safety considerations, cultural norms, and sauna etiquette. From understanding different sauna dress codes and selecting the right materials to knowing what not to wear and enhancing your experience with accessories, every aspect contributes to a comfortable, safe, and enjoyable sauna session.

So, the next time you step into a sauna, remember these tips, and let the warmth envelop you as you relax and rejuvenate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I wear in a public sauna?

In a public sauna, it's common to wear swimwear or cover yourself with a towel. Women can opt for a swimsuit, bikini, or sarong, while men can choose swim trunks or gym shorts. Make sure to follow the sauna's specific guidelines on attire.

Can I wear synthetic fabrics in the sauna?

No, it's better to choose natural fibers like cotton or linen for a more comfortable and breathable sauna experience.

Are there any materials I should avoid in the sauna?

Avoid wearing synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester, as well as materials like PVC or spandex in the sauna, as they can trap heat and cause discomfort or itching.

Can I wear makeup or apply lotion before entering the sauna?

No, it's best to refrain from wearing makeup or applying lotion before entering a sauna, as they can clog pores and cause skin irritations.

Are there any special considerations for infrared saunas?

Yes, it's important to wear breathable fabric in infrared saunas to allow effective light penetration and consider wearing a sauna suit for increased sweat production if you are looking for weight loss benefits.

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