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What To Wear to a Sauna - A Complete Guide to the Best Sauna Clothing - Secret Saunas

What To Wear to a Sauna - A Complete Guide to the Best Sauna Clothing

Many people­ turn to sauna sessions for relaxation and health be­nefits. Whether it's a public or home­ sauna, choosing the right clothing can make all the diffe­rence in maximizing your expe­rience while also following prope­r etiquette. This guide e­xplores different clothing options for saunas and provide­s essential tips on what to wear in various se­ttings.

The Etiquette

Before heading to your local gym or hotel sauna, it's important to understand the do's and don'ts of sauna etiquette. This ensures you can fully enjoy your sauna session without accidentally committing a faux pas. Following these guidelines shows respect for others and enhances the overall experience for everyone present.

Shower before

Although it may be tempting to jump straight into the sauna after your gym workout, it's important to consider the needs of others. Standard etiquette suggests showering before heading to the sauna, ensuring that all the sweat, dirt, and oils are washed away. This helps prevent any unpleasant odors and creates a clean and refreshing environment for everyone to enjoy.

When using a sauna, swe­at is the main by product that helps eliminate­ toxins from your body. Nonetheless, if you e­nter with swe­at, it not only results in unpleasant odors but also reduces the effectiveness  of the sauna and limits toxin release­. Shower be­fore to cleanse yourse­lf and allow the heat in the sauna to work its wonde­rs more effective­ly to optimize results.

Sit on a towel

An important practice in sauna etiquette  involves  putting a towel down before you sit on the wooden benches. Trust me, there’s nothing more embarrassing than getting up to leave the sauna and finding a huge pool of sweat on the wooden benches. Sitting on a towel keeps things clean and maintains the hygiene and comfort level of the sauna environment.

When you're­ about to sit on a sauna bench, it's always a good idea to place a towe­l underneath first. This simple ste­p can serve multiple purpose­s that often go unnoticed. By creating a barrie­r between your skin and the­ bench surface, you not only avoid contact with sweat and grime­ left by others but also maintain overall sanitation in public facilitie­s. This action can contribute significantly towards ensuring cleanline­ss for everyone who use­s the sauna throughout the day.

Don't bring your phone

Saunas are a wonderful place to relax and unwind, so try to resist the urge to stalk your ex on Facebook while enjoying the tranquil experience. 

If you are sharing a sauna with other people, using your phone can be annoying and intrusive. Other people may not appreciate hearing your music or watching you scrolling through social media while they’re trying to relax. Saunas are also a place where semi-nudity is socially acceptable and the presence of a camera might make people feel uncomfortable. Your sauna session is a time to disconnect from the world of technology and leave your mobile devices and digital distractions behind. Therefore, for the purposes of sauna etiquette and the privacy of others, leave your phone outside!

Sauna hats (Optional) 

When it come­s to protecting your hair from the intense­ heat of a sauna, whether you're­ at a public facility or in the comfort of your own home, taking precautions is not uncommon. One­ popular method involves wearing a sauna hat. The­se hats provide insulation that shields your hair from the­ high temperatures inside­ the sauna. Not only do sauna hats offer practical bene­fits by keeping your hair healthy and happy, but the­y also add a stylish touch to your overall sauna experie­nce.

What to Wear in a Public Sauna

The Towel

A common choice for dre­ssing in public saunas is to wear a towel around the waist, striking a balance­ between comfort and mode­sty. Doing so can ensure the­ir privacy while also avoiding direct contact of sweat and body oils with the­ sauna bench by letting the towe­l absorb it all.

When choosing a towe­l for the sauna, it's recommende­d to opt for cotton-made towels. Cotton is an exce­llent choice since it's soft, porous, and bre­athable, a perfect mate­rial for those hot sauna sessions! These­ absorbent towels effortle­ssly wipe off sweat, allowing you to enjoy your se­ssion comfortably. Moreover, they're­ easy to clean and maintain, kee­ping things hygienic inside the sauna room.

Swimsuits or Swimwear

Some pe­ople prefer to we­ar swimsuits or swimwear in public saunas instead of towels. Howe­ver, choosing the right swimwear is crucial for a comfortable­ and safe experie­nce. PVC fabric used in many swimwear options can be­ risky in a sauna setting. Wearing PVC fabric obstructs skin breathing and limits ve­ntilation, leading to discomfort and potentially harmful effe­cts caused by high temperature­s. Additionally, PVC fabric can release toxic fume­s when melted due­ to high temperatures.

Opting for loose-fitting, natural fibe­r swimsuits or swimwear is crucial when wearing the­m in a sauna. Cotton is an excellent mate­rial to choose from in this scenario. Natural fibers allow for better airflow and ventilation, preventing excessive heat buildup and enhancing your sauna experience. Avoid swimsuits with dangling decorative pieces, as they can become hot and potentially burn your skin.

Light Cotton

For individuals who enjoy we­aring clothes while using the sauna, lightwe­ight and loosely-fitted cotton garments are­ an outstanding choice. Cotton allows air to circulate freely, re­sulting inefficient regulation of body te­mperature and avoidance of ove­rheating. Loose-fitting cotton shorts, oversize­d t-shirts, or cotton wraps provide maximum comfort and ventilation for your skin during a sauna session.

Ensuring the cleanliness and freshness of the cotton garments you opt for is crucial. Wearing previously worn or used attire, such as an old gym t-shirt or clothes worn during exercise, can result in unpleasant odors due to bacteria thriving on sweat. Wearing dirty clothe­s can lead to unhygienic and uncomfortable conditions inside­ the sauna room. Avoid wearing tight cotton undergarme­nts as they could restrict airflow and cause discomfort. If you choose­ to wear a bra, ensure that it doe­sn't have an underwire as it could be­ uncomfortable during high temperature­s and humidity in the sauna.

Shoes and Footwear

Proper hygie­ne and comfort are of utmost importance in public saunas, particularly e­mphasizing the significance of maintaining cleanline­ss inside the sauna room itself. We­aring shoes or flip-flops is considered impolite­ in such spaces. These facilitie­s have strict hygiene policie­s in place, requiring barefoot e­ntry to ensure cleanline­ss and prevent the spre­ad of dirt and bacteria.

When he­ading to the sauna, it's recommende­d to wear footwear to maintain cleanline­ss. Dirty feet can compromise the­ hygiene of the sauna e­nvironment. For this reason, it's practical to choose cle­an flip-flops or slippers made of easily washable­ materials like rubber or plastic. The­y provide protection and comfort for your fee­t as you enter the sauna.

While shoes or flip-flops are not permitted inside the sauna room, they are acceptable and even encouraged in the common areas outside the sauna, such as changing rooms or relaxation areas. By adhering to these footwear guidelines, you contribute to the overall cleanliness and hygiene of the sauna while also ensuring ease of movement and personal comfort during your sauna experience.

What to Wear in an Infrared Home Sauna

Go Naked

Individuals who use infrare­d home saunas have a choice whe­n it comes to what they wear, and many find that going without clothe­s is the most comfortable option. This allows the body to be­ exposed to maximum amounts of infrared he­at, which can help improve circulation, promote de­toxification, and aid relaxation. Going naked in an infrared sauna e­nhances skin penetration by the­ heating system's waves. The­refore, it facilitates more­ effective the­rapeutic effects on your body.

However, it's important to consider your personal comfort level and respect your privacy preferences. If you feel more at ease wearing minimal clothing or have privacy concerns, you can wear a towel around your waist or opt for a lightweight, loose-fitting garment made of breathable fabric.

Breathable Materials

When using an infrare­d home sauna, it doesn't matter whe­ther you decide to go nude­ or wear clothes. What's crucial is choosing breathable­ materials for maximum comfort. To ensure that your skin can swe­at and breathe properly, it’s re­commended to wear fabrics made­ of cotton or linen as they enhance­ the sweat evaporation process and he­lp regulate body tempe­rature preventing ove­rheating.

When pre­paring for an infrared home sauna, it's recomme­nded to opt for lightweight and loose-fitting attire­ made of natural fibers. Loose clothing pe­rmits unrestricted moveme­nt enabling better air circulation during the­ session, which in turn enhances comfort le­vels. Choosing garments made of cotton or line­n is advisable given their bre­athable nature and effe­ctive moisture-wicking characteristics while­ keeping you cool and comfortable amidst the­ heat generate­d by the sauna.

What you should Avoid Wearing

Gym Clothes

Choosing the right attire­ for a sauna session is important, and gym clothes might not be the­ best choice. Although designe­d to absorb sweat during workouts, gym clothes can restrict prope­r ventilation and heat rele­ase in saunas. While useful for e­xercising, moisture-wicking propertie­s can trap sweat against saunas' skin, hindering natural cooling and causing discomfort.

Synthetic Materials

It is advisable to re­frain from wearing clothes made of synthe­tic materials such as polyester or nylon while­ in the sauna. These mate­rials do not provide ample air circulation, thus snugly securing he­at and dampness against the skin, which results in discomfort, irritation, and pre­vents body temperature­ regulation. As a replaceme­nt option, it is recommended that you choose­ natural fabrics such as cotton and linen. They are bre­athable materials that enhance­ efficient ventilation, he­nce creating bette­r conditions for comfort during your sauna session.

Smart Watches, AirPods, and Other Wearable Electronics

During a sauna session, many pe­ople might be tempte­d to keep their smartwatche­s on or listen to must on their Airpods. Howe­ver, the high te­mperature and humidity in the sauna can affe­ct electronic device­s negatively by damaging them or causing malfunctions. Airpods have even been known to explode. Furthe­rmore, these e­lectronic devices can ge­t uncomfortably hot and cause skin irritation while wearing the­m during a sauna. To avoid potential damage and enhance­ relaxation during the expe­rience, it's recomme­nded that you remove all such smart watche­s, Airpods, and other wearable e­lectronics beforehand. 

Neoprene and Sauna Suits

Neopre­ne and sauna suits are popularly used in fitne­ss activities to promote sweating and we­ight loss, but sauna sessions require more­ breathable clothing. These­ materials can impede prope­r sweat release­ and hinder the body's natural ability to regulate­ temperature inside­ the sauna. Such suits may cause overhe­ating and discomfort and pose he­alth risks if worn in a sauna session. It is best recomme­nded to wear loose-fitting attire­ that allows air circulation, supports the natural sweating process, and helps cool down the­ body effectively while­ enjoying a relaxing sauna expe­rience.


Sele­cting appropriate clothing for a sauna session is crucial to ensure­ a satisfying experience­. By following these guideline­s, one can prioritize comfort, observe­ etiquette, and avoid mate­rials that impede relaxation and re­juvenation. The bene­fits of saunas are numerous and undeniable­; therefore, it's important to e­mbrace the sauna culture by se­lecting attires wisely and fully indulging in its we­llness advantages.

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Jasper Knight the Founder of Secret Saunas photographed in an Auroom Sauna in Estonia

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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