wearing a towel in sauna room

What to wear in a sauna?

The traditional sauna originated in Finland, but we can have more other options nowadays, including an infrared sauna, steam room, or portable sauna, as well.

As you probably know, the primary aim of the sauna is to enhance your emotional state and physical wellbeing. However, one of the crucial questions is what to wear in the sauna once you decide to use it. Let’s uncover the mystery together.

Our bodies are wonderful and amazing, and we have to do everything we can to keep them in good working order. Many people, when they feel sluggish, tired, irritable, and have aching joints and muscles, are inclined to think that it is better and easier to pop a pill, ignoring the potential side effects.

If you’re not one for popping pills every time you feel something, then a sauna is perfect for you. This can be achieved by either buying a personal sauna or going to a sauna shop. If you decide to do the latter, then you should know what the sauna dress code is.

To put your mind at ease, it may be a good idea to check with your sauna shop and ask them their rules with regards to the dress code. Some people like to go the authentic way and go full-on nude, while others feel uncomfortable doing so.

In most saunas, you can enjoy a wonderful spa experience by wearing a bathing costume or a towel. Then again, you can also choose to go fully or partially naked. The key is really about finding out which route is comfortable for you.

Nevertheless, you have to remember that it is essential that spa resorts that their guests feel welcome and relaxed. After all, spa treatments are all about feeling comfortable and relaxed. Thus, never be embarrassed about wanting to wear what you want to wear—or not wear.

Believe it or not, your first step before entering the sauna is to undress completely and take a shower. It is necessary to take off the dusty and dirty clothes and shoes you have worn throughout the working day.

If you enter the sauna dressed in everyday clothes, the heat will release dirt and dust into the air. Consequently, it will decrease the benefits you can get from the sauna.

After that, you should decide what to wear or avoid having on during these 10 to 45 minutes. It will depend on your attitude towards social norms and personal comfort.

If you don’t care about conventions, take the clothes off and let every part of your body have the benefits of the high temperatures and consequential sweating. Of course, you also don’t need to worry about the clothes if you have your home sauna. In that case, feel the benefits of using the sauna while naked.

Otherwise, you should decide what to wear while sitting inside the public sauna. Whatever your choice is, you should follow the simple rules to wear as little clothes as possible and to avoid wearing the wrong stuff.

Your goal should be to relax and enjoy the benefits of the sauna as much as possible. What is the point of spending time feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed?

Are you feeling stiff and stressed out? Sweaty after a solid workout at the gym or pool? Step into a sauna and feel the tension melt away as the hot steam caresses your muscles and skin, and relaxes your mind.

But getting into a public sauna or gym sauna can be a little bit awkward, right? What exactly are you supposed to wear? What about showering beforehand? What is the standard sauna etiquette to public sauna use?

This article will take a look at what to wear in a sauna, and give you a few tips so that you won’t embarrass yourself or make a fool of yourself in the sauna.


If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of going nude in a public steam room, it’s fine to sit in a swimsuit. Since you should wear as little clothing as possible in a steam room, a swimsuit makes for a compromise between comfort and modesty. When selecting a swimsuit for a steam room, choose one without metal fasteners or embellishments, which can become too hot when exposed to the heat of the steam room. You’ll still want to bring a towel to sit on for comfort and cleanliness when wearing a swimsuit.

Even though swimsuits are a practical solution, it can be dangerous for your health. Like every other clothes made out of PVC fabrics, it will prevent the breathing of your skin. Not to mention the possibility of melting and giving off toxic chemicals and fumes on the high temperatures.

Additionally, that insulating material will make you feel uncomfortable after spending some time in the heat. You won’t enjoy wearing anything absorbing too much heat.

Therefore, you should choose a loose-fitting bathing suit made from natural fibres if possible. That kind of material will allow better ventilation while sitting in the sauna.

Also, take care not to wear the swimsuit with metal parts, to prevent getting them hot and burning your skin.

A Towel

This is the best choice for any sauna as it will provide the best experience on your day out. The Finns, especially, insist that you wear nothing but a smile on your face and perhaps a towel around your waist to protect the bench from your sweat and also your privacy. The best thing about this choice is that it’s completely free and easy to pull off. Don’t even wear jewellery or glasses; expose as much of the skin as possible.

A sauna is a place meant for health and relaxation, not making fashion statements. The less that gets between you and the heat, the more you’ll enjoy your session and concurrently, the more benefit you’ll derive from it.

Regardless of whether you use a swimming suit or not, you will need a towel in the sauna. If you don’t want PVC fabrics on your skin while enjoying the heat, the towel is everything you need. Otherwise, you can wear a swimsuit but also use the soft towel to place it on a bench before sitting.

Since you sweat profusely while using a sauna, you may choose to go without clothing in order to avoid sweating through your clothes. While it’s typically fine to go without regular clothes in the steam room, it doesn’t mean you should bare it all. Always bring a towel, supplied by many gyms, to avoid sitting directly on the seats in the steam room. This can help prevent the spread of bacteria from one body to another. Wrap a towel around your body and keep it wrapped, creating a clean shield between your body and the steam room surfaces that other patrons have touched.

The Finns believe that wearing just a towel around the waist is the only way to get the ultimate experience. It will be enough to protect both your privacy and the bench from your sweat and spreading bacteria.

My advice is to pick out the towel made of cotton. That material will entirely absorb your sweat and help you feel comfortable.

To enjoy all that a sauna offers, you want to go dressed correctly. You also need to bear in mind that a public sauna is a space shared by several people, so you want to protect yourself from germs and bacteria. It is why you can take along a small, dry towel with you to sit on. You also have the choice to wrap a towel around you.

If the idea of a public sauna doesn’t appeal to you, you can buy your own private home sauna—a portable infrared sauna, which comes with everything you need to sauna bathe at home and the way you like.

Something made of cotton

If you feel that your swimsuit is not enough for you or you want to avoid it, you can wear something comfortable made of cotton. A classic, oversized T-shirt, loose-fitting cotton wrap, and shorts are always an excellent choice for the sauna.

They will absorb excess heat and let your skin breathe freely. Always wear clean clothes, dressed on just before getting inside. Keep in mind that wearing these clothes doesn’t mean that you should avoid bringing the towel in the sauna.

On the contrary, if you don’t need the towel as a cover, it will be necessary to put it on the bench and sit on it. That way, you will keep yourself safe from bacteria and the seat clean at the same time.

One more tip! Try to skip tight underwear, especially your bra, to avoid discomfort, which tight clothes can cause in the cabin with high temperature and humidity.

If you need more coverage than a swimsuit, after hitting the gym, pick something made of cotton. A pair of cotton shorts and a tank top or a loose-fitting oversized cotton t-shirt are good choices for what to wear in a sauna. The loose-fitting tee-shirt and shorts or a cotton wrap will let your skin breathe and won’t absorb much heat themselves.

Put them on just before you get into the sauna; just make sure you skip the underwear, including bras.


Some users enjoy using a loofah to scrub off dry, dead skin while taking the sauna. Yes, it is fantastic and highly beneficial for your skin, but you should think twice before using it.

Using the loofah in your private, portable infrared sauna is OK, but scrubbing your body in the public sauna is impolite towards other users, don’t you think?


It’s tempting to enter a steam room barefoot for comfort, but going barefoot in a communal steam room may be seen as bad form. The bacteria and germs that you garner while walking barefoot through a health club can then be added to the warm, moist environment of a steam room, ideal for bacterial reproduction. Instead of going sans shoes, devote a pair of cheap, rubber flip flops to steam room usage alone. You can then protect your feet from dirt and germs without bringing dirty street shoes into the sauna.

Never wear shoes while using the sauna, especially the ones using outdoors. You can wear the shower sandals to avoid walking barefoot on slippery tiles, but you need to take them off once you get inside.

Wearing footwear while you sit on the bench is not polite to other people sharing that sauna with you. It is exceptionally rude to put the shower sandals on the lower sit while lying on the upper one.


The type of clothing you wear in the steam room may depend on your gym rules. For instance, if the steam room is shared by members of both sexes, the health club will prohibit sitting in the steam room naked, while gyms that have devoted steam rooms for each gender may have less stringent rules. Always check with the front desk and read any posted signs before you begin using a steam room to ensure you’re doing so properly.

Make Sure Your Bathwear Is Sauna-Appropriate

If you are uncomfortable with the idea of going nude in the sauna, don’t let it put you off from enjoying its benefits. It is fine to sit in your swimsuit. True, the idea is to wear as little clothing as possible, but a swimsuit will suffice.

Saunas can get hot, so make sure your bathing suit doesn’t have any metal fasteners as this will get piping hot and burn you. You’ll still want a towel to sit on for comfort and cleanliness when opting to wear a swimsuit.

Also, when it comes to watches and jewellery, most saunas will provide a locker, so you can safely store your personal items while you enjoy the treatments and other facilities.

Forgetting about the kind of people you meet in saunas, the dry or wet heat sessions offered in the sauna have some wonderful therapeutic benefits, promoting sweating and cleansing and bringing about a sense of relaxation and wellbeing.

How To Choose Sauna Clothing

The quick answer to what to wear in an infrared sauna is kept as scanty as possible. To enjoy all the benefits of the sauna, wear as little clothing as possible. In fact, if you’re in there alone, stay naked.

If not, then wear loose, breathable clothes to allow pores on your skin to eject sweat and undesirable chemicals.

When choosing sauna clothing, follow these tips:


In an effort to allow the body to sweat properly, go for clothes that touch the skin as little as possible.

Tight clothes will only block the skin pores and reduce the effectiveness of the sauna session.


The clothes also need to be light, given that they will inevitably touch the skin. In that case, they shouldn’t block the pores owing to being light. The sweat should be able to pass through it.


Besides looseness and lightness, the sauna clothing also needs to be breathable in that they allow the hot air to reach the skin directly and provide proper sweating.


At times when in the sauna, the temperatures may get too uncomfortable, and the sweating becomes too much.

In such a case, you have the option of leaving the room or reducing the amount of coverage on the skin. If you choose the latter option, it is preferable that you have clothes that can be easily shed off.

Tip: Don’t wear accessories; earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other accessories are to be avoided as they easily overheat and scar your skin. Smart devices like smartwatches are very sensitive to heat and may even explode in the sauna.

If you keep these tips in mind, you will enjoy and even benefit from these sauna sessions in a great way.

What To Avoid In The Sauna

Whether you use the traditional or infrared sauna, there are things you shouldn’t bring inside, including:

  • Dirty and tight-fitting clothes – It is uncomfortable to let the heat loosen the dust and release it into the air.
  • Workout clothes and sweatsuit – All clothes made of PVC are the wrong choice when you use the sauna since it may melt at high temperature.
  • Jewellery made of metal and piercing – It will heat up and may hurt you.
  • Lotions and creams – They will clog up your pores and prevent your skin to breath freely
  • Never wear shoes in the sauna under any circumstances – they are dirty, hold heat, and you might end up leaving with athlete’s foot.
  • Sauna suits were a horrible invention – don’t believe what the advertisements on TV tell you. Their plastic fabric interferes with the sauna’s heat, they aren’t as breathable as cotton and also emits toxic fumes (heated plastic has been linked to several types of cancer) dangerous to not only you but everyone around.
  • Sweatsuits are also a bad idea. They have a reverse effect in the sauna; they insulate your skin and delay sweating. In the sauna, you need to sweat, that’s how all the benefits come about.
  • Do not wear your sweaty workout clothes in the sauna.
  • Also, the worst idea for what to wear in the sauna, and will promptly get you kicked out and banned is street clothes. Simply put, don’t do it.

So what do you wear in a sauna to benefit from it in a meaningful way? Nothing, a towel, or a bathing costume? There are essentially no serious rules when it comes to visiting a sauna, and the way it is done depends essentially on the country you’re in and the particular sauna.

It is important not to be hung up or bogged down by what to wear. It certainly won’t do you any good to sit starkers if you felt ill at ease and tense; it defeats the whole purpose of relaxation. The idea is to relax, enjoy a couple of drinks and simply to revel in the experience of having a cleansed body and mind.

For those of us lucky enough to have a built-in sauna or steam room at home, you’ll be able to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the sauna every day.

In this case, we recommend you follow the lead of the Scandanavians and wear nothing inside the sauna—the more of your skin you can expose to the steam, the better the health effects.

Remember to take in a towel to sit or lay on during your session, as the seat can burn your buttocks and make you feel uncomfortable when switching positions.

Relax, add some steam to breathe in, clear your mind, and drift off into physiological and psychological bliss.

The way a sauna works is simple, the heat produced should penetrate into the tissues of your body, and how deep the penetration goes is directly responsible for the therapeutic benefits sauna provides.

Wearing too many clothes means most of the heat will be absorbed by the clothing themselves and needlessly dissipate back to the environment, instead of soaking into your skin like it’s supposed to. In other words, layers and layers of clothing will prevent you from receiving the sauna’s full therapeutic benefits and health effects.

For that reason, what to wear in a sauna should be minimal or even zero clothing. The fewer clothes you wear, the more the benefit you receive.

Going nude to the sauna is hygienic and probably the best choice of all. There is no other way to get the ultimate enjoyment and feel all the benefits of sweating. The best of all, if you enter the sauna naked, you don’t need to worry about what to wear. The answer is simple – nothing!

Unfortunately, most of us hesitate about this unconventional approach. If you are one of those people who feel uncomfortable wearing nothing in a public place, you have a few options available. All in all, the only thing that matters is to get the best that the sauna offers.

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