What to Wear in a Sauna (and 4 Things to AVOID)

Navigating the world of sauna attire can be a perplexing task, especially for those new to the experience.

The question of what to wear in a sauna often arises, with various cultural and personal preferences influencing the decision.

This article aims to demystify the appropriate attire for a sauna session, ensuring a comfortable and respectful experience for all.

what to wear in a sauna

Understanding Sauna Basics

Before diving into what to wear in a sauna, let’s understand the basics of a sauna session. Saunas are small rooms or houses designed for heat sessions, which can vary in temperature from moderate to very high.

The core idea of a sauna is to induce sweating, which purportedly offers numerous health benefits, including relaxation, detoxification, and relief from muscle soreness.

The Importance of Material: Why It Matters

When considering what to wear in a sauna, the material of the clothing is crucial. Loose cotton clothing is often recommended due to its breathability and ability to absorb sweat.

Conversely, materials like PVC fabrics or very tight clothes can be uncomfortable and potentially harmful, trapping heat and restricting circulation.

Infrared Sauna Considerations

In the case of an infrared sauna, which uses light to create heat, the clothing requirements may differ slightly. Infrared saunas operate at lower temperatures, so heavier clothing might be more tolerable.

However, it’s essential to avoid anything that could block the infrared rays from reaching the skin.

The Debate: Sauna Naked vs. Bathing Suit

Cultural norms play a significant role in deciding whether to wear clothing in a sauna.

In many parts of Europe, for example, it’s common to enter a sauna naked, as it is believed to be more hygienic and allows for better heat penetration.

However, in public saunas in the United States and other regions, wearing a bathing suit is the norm.

If you choose to go sauna naked, it’s essential to always have a cotton towel to sit on for hygiene purposes.

Sauna Etiquette and Attire

Sauna etiquette varies by location, but there are some general rules.

In a public sauna, it is usually expected that participants will wear at least minimal clothing, such as a bathing suit.

It’s also common to bring a towel wrapped around the body.

In private or less formal settings, there might be more flexibility, but it’s always best to adhere to posted rules or local customs.

What to Wear

  1. Bathing Suit: A comfortable, well-fitting bathing suit is a universally acceptable option, particularly in a public sauna. It’s important to ensure that the bathing suit is clean – dirty clothes can harbor bacteria that thrive in the warm, moist environment of a sauna.

  2. Loose Cotton Clothing: For those who prefer not to wear a bathing suit, loose cotton clothing such as a cotton t-shirt and shorts can be a good alternative. This option allows the skin to breathe and absorbs sweat effectively.

  3. Just a Towel: Many people opt for just a towel during their sauna session. This is a comfortable and hygienic option, as long as the towel is large enough to sit on and wrap around the body as needed.

  4. Workout Clothes: While some may choose to wear their workout clothes in a sauna, it’s important to avoid synthetic fabrics that don’t breathe well. Cotton-based workout attire is preferable.

  5. Footwear: For public saunas, it’s generally a good rule to wear shoes or some sort of sandals/flip-flops/slides.

What NOT to Wear

  • Dirty Clothes: Wearing dirty clothes in a sauna is not only a breach of sauna etiquette, but it can also be unhygienic.

  • Tight Clothes: Tight clothes can restrict blood flow and become uncomfortable when soaked with sweat.

  • PVC Fabrics: PVC fabrics or other non-breathable materials can trap heat and moisture, creating an uncomfortable and potentially unsafe sauna experience.

  • Metal Jewelry: Metal is an excellent conductor of heat. In the high temperatures of a sauna, metal jewelry can heat up quickly and significantly. This can lead to burns or discomfort when the hot metal comes into contact with your skin. Can also potentially damage the jewelry.

Health Considerations and Sauna Use

Monitoring Body Temperature

During a sauna session, it’s crucial to monitor your body temperature. Overheating can lead to dizziness, nausea, and other health issues.

Wearing light, breathable clothing can help regulate body temperature and reduce the risk of too much heat exposure.

Hydration and Showering

Hydration is key before, during, and after a sauna. It’s also recommended to take a shower both before and after to cleanse the skin and remove sweat.

Shower Shoes

In a public sauna, shower shoes can be worn for hygiene purposes, especially in the shower areas. This helps in preventing foot infections and maintaining overall cleanliness.

Final Thoughts: What to Wear in a Sauna

Choosing what to wear in a sauna is a personal decision influenced by various factors, including cultural norms, personal comfort, and health considerations.

Whether you opt for a bathing suit, loose cotton clothing, or just a towel, the key is to ensure that your choice aligns with the sauna’s etiquette, enhances your comfort, and respects others’ experiences.

Remember, the ultimate goal of a sauna session is relaxation and rejuvenation, so choose the attire that best helps you achieve that state.

Get Hot.

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