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The Naked Sauna: Spa Etiquette for going naked in the sauna - Secret Saunas

The Naked Sauna: Spa Etiquette for going naked in the sauna

Are you interested in understanding the sauna culture and its practices around the world? Maybe you're curious about the idea of being naked in a steam room, or perhaps you've heard tales of the famed German sauna experience. In places like Germany, sauna-goers often prefer to go to a sauna without a swimsuit, embracing the tradition of being completely naked. Mixed sauna areas are common, and the idea of a nude sauna is not sexualized but rather seen as liberating. However, as with all traditions, regional nuances exist, making it wise to acquaint oneself with local norms before diving in.

Before you strip and step into the hot room, it’s a little bit essential to know the protocols. A towel is typically brought along to sit on for sanitary reasons, and many wrap a towel around themselves when moving between sauna rooms. A pre-sauna shower is customary for cleanliness. Sauna etiquettes also emphasize respecting others' boundaries, maintaining a quiet environment, and abstaining from activities like exercising.

In this article, we'll traverse the health merits of sauna sessions, explore the historical and cultural roots of saunas, offer guidelines for a serene sauna experience, and spotlight sauna customs globally. If you’ve ever wondered what to wear in a sauna or felt a bit self-conscious about the prospect of showing your whole body, this guide is for you.

The Health Perks of Sauna Sessions

Partaking in sauna sessions, especially those where clothing is optional, brings forth several health advantages. I’ll admit, the idea of being naked in front of strangers can be daunting, but the health benefits of sauna-ing may convince you otherwise.

The blend of warmth and steam in saunas stimulates blood vessels, fostering improved circulation. This, in turn, can bolster cardiovascular health. Sweating in the sauna facilitates detoxification, flushing out toxins via skin pores. Additionally, saunas can soothe muscle and joint pain, rendering them beneficial for conditions like arthritis. And when in a sauna, everyone is naked, so there’s no need to feel self-conscious; spa-goers of all shapes and sizes frequent these spaces.

Naked Saunas in Cultural and Historical Contexts

Historically, saunas were not just relaxation hubs but also community gathering spots where people would bathe and socialize. Each region has its narrative surrounding saunas, with varying perspectives on attire.

In countries like Germany and Finland, saunas are a space for body acceptance, and the idea of being naked is celebrated. In contrast, other nations might prioritize swimwear or towels due to individual comfort or traditions. While you’ll feel a bit out of place wearing a bathing suit in a German or Finnish sauna, in some other countries, it’s the norm.

Ensuring a Serene Sauna Session

Here are some general guidelines for a fulfilling sauna experience:

Swift Door Movements: Retain the sauna's warmth by promptly closing the door when entering or leaving.
Embrace Silence: Saunas are spaces of tranquility. Engage in hushed conversations or bask in the quiet. Don't bring a phone or wear airpods!
Towel Use: Whether in swimwear or not, always sit on a towel. This promotes hygiene and comfort.
Pre-Sauna Shower: Starting with a shower ensures you're clean before entering this shared space.
Respect Personal Space: Avoid sitting too close to others, ensuring everyone's comfort.

Global Sauna Etiquette

In certain countries, going to a nude sauna and embracing nakedness is conventional. Yet, the universal principle remains: carrying a towel for hygiene.

Embracing Nudity

In certain countries, nudity in saunas is conventional. In such places, it's seen as a holistic experience, unhindered by damp swimwear. Still, it's advised to have a towel handy, prioritizing comfort and cleanliness.

Opting for Swimwear

In some nations, donning swimwear in saunas is more prevalent. If swimwear aligns with the locale's customs, feel free to wear yours. Towels can still be used for added hygiene.

For a global perspective:

Nudity-Preferred Countries Swimwear-Preferring Countries Towel-Using Countries
Germany USA UK
Finland UAE New Zealand
Sweden India Canada


This fantastic map from Spa Seekers shows the sauna etiquette from around the world:

A Dive into German Sauna Traditions

In Germany, wearing swimwear in saunas is perceived as a faux pas. The German spa culture leans towards nudity or using towels, emphasizing egalitarianism and comfort. German spa hotels, like Therme Erding near Munich, often have strict rules about wearing clothes in the sauna area.

Swimwear in German Saunas: A No-No

German saunas cherish the idea of total relaxation, where clothing is seen as a barrier. Here, like in Finland or Sweden, nudity is embraced as a way to maximize the sauna's benefits. It's less about societal norms and more about the purity of the experience.

Common Queries

  1. Do all global saunas mandate nudity?

    • No, sauna etiquettes vary. While places like Germany prefer nudity, others might prioritize swimwear.
  2. Can I opt for swimwear in a nudity-preferred sauna?

    • While nudity might be conventional, some saunas allow swimwear for personal comfort. Always verify local rules for what to wear in a sauna.
  3. Are there health hazards with saunas?

    • Generally, saunas are safe. Yet, it's pivotal to stay hydrated, monitor time spent, and heed one's body signals.
  4. What's the ideal sauna duration?

    • Typically, 10 to 20 minutes. Overstaying can result in dehydration or overheating.
  5. Any particular German sauna etiquettes?

    • In Germany, saunas typically emphasize nudity. Bringing a towel for sitting is recommended, as is respecting others' personal space and maintaining quietude.
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About the Author

I'm Jasper Knight, the founder of During my travels through Finland and Scandinavia in 2018 I was introduced to the thrilling local ritual of taking daily hot saunas and then cooling off by plunging into the dark icy waters of a frozen lake. This experience was so fulfilling that it felt like an addiction. My desire to return to the forests and lakes of Northern Europe led me to set up Secret Saunas with the mission of bringing that authentic Finnish sauna experiences home.

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