What To Wear In A Sauna? 

The good thing about owning your very own barrel sauna is that you make the rules…almost.

Going for a sweat session has its regulations to get the most benefits. And when using a shared sauna, there is some etiquette to follow.

And one of the most important ones is: What should you wear in the sauna?

Because as you will see, you can’t walk in wearing whatever you want…

Long Story Short

  • The best thing to do to benefit the most is to enter the sauna naked, with towels wrapped around you if you prefer.
  • Bathing suits are a good option.
  • For clothes, opt for lightweight and breathable materials such as linen, cotton, bamboo, and microfibers.
  • Avoid Polyester or Nylon clothes.
  • For footwear, go barefoot or with sandals.
  • Don’t wear heavy clothes, denim, metal, makeup, or even contact lenses in the sauna.
What to wear in a sauna? Towels or bathing suits

Why Does It Matter?

In Europe, especially in Finland, most saunas are “textile-free”, meaning they expect you to be completely naked. You’re only allowed to bring in a towel.

And that’s because this is how it is supposed to be…saunas are a place where you should be naked.

More and more people are going to the sauna fully clothed, and there are many drawbacks to that. 

Going to the sauna with your clothes on can not only suppress the benefits of the sauna itself, but it can also harm your clothes and is considered bad etiquette (especially if you go with dirty clothes):

  1. Heat retention: Wearing clothes can hurt the body’s ability to release heat, making it less effective and potentially uncomfortable.
  2. Hygiene: Wearing clothes can trap sweat and create a moist environment, increasing the risk of skin infections or irritation.
  3. Reduced effectiveness of heat therapy: Wearing clothes may lower the effectiveness of heat therapy by preventing the direct contact of heat with the skin.
  4. Increased risk of overheating: Wearing clothes can impede the body’s ability to cool down efficiently through sweating…which can be dangerous.

So, What To Wear In A Sauna..?

naked potato

The best thing to do to benefit the most is to enter the sauna naked. In public, wrap towels around yourself.

If you want to wear something, swimsuits are your best option to wear in a sauna. They are breathable, do not trap heat, and can handle sweat effectively.

If you plan on wearing clothes, opt for materials such as linen, cotton, bamboo, modal, or microfiber.

For footwear, wear only flip-flops or sandals. If you don’t have that, just walk in barefoot.

Some outfit ideas to wear at the sauna:

  • Sports shirt and shorts (loosely fitted)
  • Bathing suit
  • Naked with towels covering you
outfit ideas to wear in the sauna

Note: Sauna Suits are not meant to be worn in the sauna. Despite having a very similar name, a sauna suit should work in normal temperatures, not hot ones as in a sauna.

For Men

Here are the best things to wear in a sauna for men:

  • Swimsuit
  • Wear underwear (boxers made with natural fibers)
  • Shorts and shirt/tank top (as long as the material is sauna-friendly and loose-fitted)
  • Spa robe

For Women

Here are the best things to wear in a sauna for women:

  • Swimsuits
  • Loose-fitted clothes with sauna-friendly material
  • Spa robes

Sauna Newbie? Check these out:

What Should You Avoid Wearing In The Sauna?

There are far more things to avoid wearing in the sauna than what is recommended. Here is a list of clothes or outfits to avoid during a sauna session:

Heavy Clothing 

Heavy clothing includes hoodies, sweatpants, leggings, jackets of any sort, sweatshirts, etc..

The reason it’s not recommended is that they reduce the health benefits you get from the sauna.

Heavy clothing does not allow your skin to breathe properly, which can impact your sweating, and hurt your body’s ability to release heat.

Polyester or Nylon Clothing

Polyester and Nylon, not recommended in the sauna

You’d want to avoid clothes made of fibers like polyester and nylon because they tend to be less breathable and they have great ability to retain heat.

This is not suitable for the sauna since it hurts your body’s ability to cool itself.

Heat retention is also bad for your skin, causing irritations.

These clothes also get ruined in the sauna…


Well, if we want to speak about why tight-fitting clothes are bad, and why limited breathability is a problem…then we have to mention anything denim like jeans.

Plus, it’s really uncomfortable…why would you wear jeans in a sauna anyway?

Jewelry…Especially Metal

metal in the sauna

Metal heats rapidly and has great conductivity, meaning it gets hot super fast in the sauna. 

If you’re wearing jewelry or a chain, it might burn your skin.

Any Clothes that have Metal 

Since we’re on the topic of metal, don’t bring anything made of it in the sauna. 

This includes clothes with zippers or metal strings (some bras have that).


Don’t wear shoes in the sauna. You might get sweat on them, the heat might ruin some of the material of the shoes, and it will release odors.

As you know, odors in the sauna get intensified because of the moisture and heat.

While you’re at it, don’t wear socks too. It’s better to go barefoot in the sauna… your socks will get drenched.


Because of the heat and sweat, most of your makeup will fall down your face and on your towel, and you’ll look like Harley Quinn.

harley quinn

There are also some health problems associated with that. In the heat, your pores open up, and lead to two things:

  • Makeup will clog your pores, and not allow your body to release heat.
  • Inflammation will occur because of the makeup mixed with sweat that enters your skin. 

For more details, read this article about sweating and makeup.

Contact Lenses

It’s not advised to wear contact lenses when using a sauna. The heat can dry your eyes out, and they might irritate you or get stuck for a few hours.

It is also reported that the sauna can also damage and rupture the contact lenses as well. If your lenses are reusable, then it’s better to take them off before hopping inside the sauna.

Accessories…Which Ones?

Concerning accessories, many pieces are recommended, and many need to be avoided when you enter the sauna. 

Sauna Accessories That Are Recommended 

allowed accessories in the sauna
  • Towels
  • Water Bottles
  • Sauna Hats for Your Hair
  • Reading for your entertainment such as a book or a newspaper

Accessories That Are Not Recommended 

accessories not allowed
  • Anything With Metal
  • Your Phone

Note: Smartwatches. No manual states that bringing a smartwatch or fitness watch to the sauna is okay, yet.

I know they can be useful in there.

However, there have been reports of batteries exploding or watches malfunctioning in the sauna. I would suggest to proceed with caution and to check if the watch can handle the heat.

What About The Type Of Sauna?

Generally, you can wear the same things in all types of saunas. There are some exceptions, however…

types of sauna where clothes are a problem

Infrared Sauna 

As you know, IR saunas work with lights hitting your skin to heat your body. If you wear clothes, the light will be blocked. 

In an infrared sauna, less is better.

Steam Room

Steam rooms, or steam saunas, are not that different from the dry sauna. The only thing to keep in mind is that the steam mixed with sweat will create a very wet environment…

Whatever you wear in there will be drenched. So, I suggest going either naked or with towels.

Some Sauna Etiquette For You

If you have never been to a public sauna, or you don’t know what is allowed or not, I am here to help you!

Here are some common etiquette to get the best sauna experience:

  1. Shower before entering. Especially if you know about the benefits of a sauna after a workout, you need to clean yourself. Odors in the sauna are intensified because of the humidity.
  2. Bring a Towel Inside. There are so many benefits and uses for a towel in the sauna. You might sweat a lot, and a towel is great to keep you as dry as possible. You can also use it as a seat cushion because the wood in a traditional sauna is burning hot.
  3. Respecting Privacy. There are many ways to do that. One of the major ones is keeping conversations not too loud…the sauna room is small. You can also keep your distance as much as possible…I don’t know about you, but when I’m hot and sweaty, I don’t like people to close to me.
  4. Before adjusting the temperature or adding water to the rocks, ASK! Not everybody wants the sauna as hot as you want it, so it’s better to ask. Plus, some people might not handle as much heat.
  5. I can’t believe I’m saying this but don’t groom yourself in there. That included nail cutting, shaving, and all that private stuff.


Do you wear clothes in a sauna?

Saunas typically do not require specific clothing, but it is recommended to wear something comfortable and appropriate for the heat of the sauna, whether that means wearing a swimsuit, towel, or going nude.

If you want to wear clothes, opt for clothes made of natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, modal, linen, or microfiber.

Should I go to the sauna naked?

Saunas are typically enjoyed naked for the best experience and total relaxation, but if you feel more comfortable, you can wear a swimsuit or towel.

What is the dress code for a sauna?

It is often recommended to wear nothing or a swimsuit in the sauna, as cotton clothes can become uncomfortable in high temperatures.

What is the appropriate sauna attire?

The appropriate sauna attire can vary, but it is generally best to wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and breathable clothing like a swimsuit or towel to ensure comfort during your sauna session.

You can wear a bathing suit as well.

Should I wear a swimsuit in the sauna?

You can choose to wear a swimsuit in the sauna for comfort and convenience, but many people prefer going naked to fully experience the heat and steam.

What is proper sauna etiquette?

To enhance your sauna experience, as well as others, sauna etiquette includes not being loud, bringing a towel, asking before raising temperatures, and wearing appropriate clothes, among many others.

Do you go barefoot in a sauna?

Yes, it is recommended to go barefoot in the sauna since socks and shoes will get wet and might release unpleasant odors.

It’s important to wash your feet before using a public sauna.

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