What to Wear in Sauna: Comfort, Safety, and Performance

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Stepping into a sauna is a practice revered for its relaxation and health-promoting effects.

Nevertheless, for those new to the sauna experience, the question of what to wear can cause some uncertainty.

This guide will help you understand what to wear in a sauna, focusing not only on comfort and safety but also on how to enhance your experience through thoughtful attire choices.

Deciphering Sauna Culture: The Foundation of Sauna Attire

Before discussing what to wear in a sauna, it’s crucial to acknowledge the cultural considerations around sauna use.

Sauna etiquette varies substantially across different cultures and even between sauna facilities.

In certain Scandinavian regions, nudity is common in saunas, while in other cultures or public venues, a swimsuit or towel is the norm.

CultureAttireGender NormsSocial Environment
FinnishNudity common, with a towel for hygieneMixed gender in family/friend settingsSocial, yet silent in public saunas
SwedishTowel or sauna seat coverMostly separate unless family or close friendsSocial, in groups
Russian (Banya)Bathing suits or nude with towelMostly separateSocial, people take turns in hot room
Japanese (Onsen)No bathing suits, nudity is the normMixed in family onsen, separate in publicStrict protocol for cleanliness, social
Turkish (Hammam)Covered with a Pestemal (cotton towel)Mostly separateFocused on bathing and massages
Korean (Jjimjilbang)No bathing suits in hot tubs, cotton uniform in common areasSeparate in bathing areas, mixed in common areasSocial, often part of a larger facility with other amenities

Always research the specific etiquette of the sauna you plan to use to avoid uncomfortable situations.

Related: What To Do After A Sauna to Optimize Health Benefits

Optimal Sauna Attire: Comfort and Breathability

When it comes to sauna attire, the guiding principle is usually less is more.

The goal is to allow your skin to breathe and sweat without hindrance, facilitating the detoxification process.

However, individual comfort and modesty should guide your choice of attire.

Related: Why Don’t I Sweat in the Sauna

Sauna-Specific Clothing

There’s a range of sauna-specific clothing available designed with breathable, moisture-absorbing materials that accommodate the high-heat environment.

A simple option is to wear a loose cotton tank top or linen.

Sauna suits or robes made from cotton or bamboo are good options, offering lightweight, comfortable wear that absorbs sweat effectively.


Swimwear is another commonly chosen attire, particularly for public saunas or those used by mixed genders.

Select a comfortable, non-restrictive swimsuit made from natural fabrics like cotton or bamboo, if possible.

Synthetic materials, such as nylon or polyester, can become uncomfortably hot and may even melt under extreme sauna heat.


Wrapping oneself in a towel is a popular choice, providing modesty and sweat absorption simultaneously.

It’s also highly recommended to use a towel to sit on.

This helps maintain personal and communal hygiene, acting as a barrier between you and the sauna bench.

Related: Sauna Before or After Massage: Best Order for Optimal Benefits

Sauna Dress Code: What to Avoid

Knowing what not to wear in a sauna is just as vital as knowing what to wear.

Synthetic Fabrics

Avoid synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon. These materials do not breathe well, retain heat, and can become uncomfortably hot.

Moreover, under extreme sauna temperatures, they may even melt or warp, causing discomfort or skin irritation.

Jewelry and Accessories

Jewelry, including rings, necklaces, or watches, should be removed before entering a sauna.

Metals heat up in the sauna environment and can cause burns.

I have seen many novice sauna goers scream out in pain when a gold necklace or bracelet gets too hot.

Similarly, eyeglasses and contact lenses should be avoided.

The high heat can warp plastic frames and dry out contact lenses, making them uncomfortable.

Sauna Accessories to Enhance the Experience

Beyond the basics of what to wear, some accessories can enhance your sauna experience.

Sauna Hat

A sauna hat, often made of wool or felt, can help regulate your body temperature by preventing your head from overheating.

It’s a traditional accessory in some cultures and a practical one, particularly in very high-temperature saunas.

Sauna Sandals

Sauna sandals can protect your feet from hot floors while providing hygienic benefits in a shared sauna space.

Opt for sandals made of natural materials that can withstand heat.

Essential Hygiene and Safety Measures

Maintaining good hygiene and safety practices is crucial, irrespective of your sauna attire choice.

Always sit on a towel, and ensure you’re clean before entering the sauna to respect the shared space.

Stay hydrated, and pay attention to your body’s signals – exit the sauna immediately if you start feeling dizzy or nauseous.

Related: Creatine and Sauna

Entering a sauna shouldn’t be a confusing or daunting experience.

By understanding what to wear, you can focus on the relaxation and health benefits that sauna usage offers.

So dress comfortably, respect cultural and venue-specific etiquette, and enjoy the warmth.

Related: Joe Rogan Sauna: Type, Routine, and Benefits


Can I wear a swimsuit in a sauna?

Absolutely, a swimsuit is a common choice for sauna attire, particularly in public or mixed-gender saunas. Opt for natural fabrics for comfort and safety.

Should I wear synthetic materials in a sauna?

No, synthetic materials like polyester or nylon can retain heat and become uncomfortably hot in a sauna. In extreme temperatures, these fabrics may even melt.

Can I wear jewelry in a sauna?

It’s advisable to remove all jewelry before entering a sauna. Metals heat up and could potentially cause burns.

Can accessories enhance my sauna experience?

Yes, certain accessories, like a sauna hat or sauna sandals, can enhance your sauna experience by regulating body temperature and providing hygienic benefits.

What do you typically wear in a sauna?

Typically, the attire you wear in a sauna depends on personal comfort, cultural norms, and the specific regulations of the sauna facility.

Some people may choose to go nude in a private sauna or in locations where this is culturally acceptable.

Others might wear a bathing suit, a towel, or even sauna-specific clothing made from breathable, absorbent materials like cotton or bamboo.

Do you have to wear a bathing suit in a sauna?

No, you do not have to wear a bathing suit in a sauna unless the facility specifically requires it.

Some people even choose to use a sauna nude, particularly in private saunas or where culturally appropriate.

Always check the guidelines of the specific sauna you are using.

Do you sweat more with clothes on in a sauna?

The primary function of sweating in a sauna is to cool the body down.

Wearing clothes in a sauna can affect the evaporation process of sweat and might make you feel hotter.

However, the amount of sweat your body produces is more closely related to the sauna‘s heat and your body’s response, not necessarily to the clothes you’re wearing.

What not to take into a sauna?

Avoid taking any metal objects, including jewelry or watches, into a sauna as they can become extremely hot and could potentially cause burns.

Electronic devices, including mobile phones, should also be avoided as high temperatures and humidity can cause damage.

Finally, it’s best not to take in anything made from synthetic materials, as these can retain heat and even melt in extreme conditions.

Can I use my phone in sauna?

It’s strongly advised not to use your phone in a sauna.

The high temperatures and humidity can cause significant damage to electronic devices, potentially causing them to malfunction or even become irreparably damaged.

For your phone’s safety and to promote a relaxing, distraction-free environment, leave your phone outside the sauna.

Medical Advice Disclaimer


The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website, are for informational purposes only.

No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

About the Author

Drew Wilkins is a fitness and nutrition expert with a Master's in Biokinesiology (emphasis in Sports Science) from the University of Southern California and over a decade of experience as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, and wellness coach. An avid surfer and soccer player, he brings a unique perspective to his research, advocating for a balanced approach to health that includes physical fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.

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