What to Wear in the Sauna at Sauna House and around the World
Here at Sauna House®, we often get asked the same question from new sauna-goers: “What should I wear in the sauna?”
If this is your first rodeo, we’ve got you covered. We break down exactly what you should wear and what you should bring to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. We'll even take it a step further to cover something equally as interesting: what people wear in saunas around the world! It might just win you some points at trivia or prepare you for your next epic travel adventure.
In this blog post, you’ll learn:
- What to wear in a sauna
- What to wear in an infrared sauna
- Additional items to bring along for the sauna
- Sauna fashion from around the world
What to Wear in a Sauna
The world of sauna fashion is fascinating, and there are many different ways to dress for the sauna whether you prefer infrared or wooden. At Sauna House, we have a clear policy for our guests' comfort and privacy and to keep our spaces clean. Here’s what we have to say:
- Bathing suits are mandatory for all. We recommend a suit that's not too loose or too tight so you can maximize your comfort! We also recommend suits made of more natural and breathable materials - but the suit you’ve already got in your closet will work.
- No outside footwear in the bathhouse. We're sort of the opposite of "no shirt, no shoes, no service." At Sauna House, shower shoes are allowed if you so please, but other bathhouses may have different policies.
Additional Tips & Items to Bring Along for the Sauna
There are a few items that can enhance your sauna experience.
- Two 100% cotton towels, one for sitting or lying on in the sauna, and a second one for drying off afterward. If you're visiting us at Sauna House, these towels will be provided for you with every visit.
- A water bottle (not glass or metal) to stay hydrated. You’ll sweat A LOT, so you need to replenish with some good ole’ H20.
- A hair tie to keep your hair off your neck. Once the sweat starts dripping, you’ll be glad you have it!
- Avoid metal jewelry, as the metal can become uncomfortably hot. For piercings, different placements and jewelry can react differently, so you may be able to leave piercings in during the sauna. It’s a case-by-case basis!
- When it comes to dry clothes for after your visit, we recommend something loose and easy to put on! We can tell you from personal experience that trying to put on leggings or tight jeans after the bathhouse isn’t ideal. Dresses, loose-fit pants, and comfy tops are the way to go.
Looking to level up your sauna accessories? Try a sauna hat! These wool hats might look like they increase the intensity, but it’s actually the opposite – they help keep you from overheating so you can spend more time in the sauna! Simply soak your sauna hat in cold water prior to jumping into the sauna. They also help protect your hair from the heat!
What to Wear in an Infrared Sauna
A traditional sauna operates at a temperature between 170°F and 195°F, while an infrared sauna operates at a lower temperature, typically between 110°F and 150°F. The direct heat of an infrared sauna is felt where the infrared light hits the body directly instead of evenly throughout the body as in a traditional sauna.
But these differences don’t really affect the attire you should be in. So if you’re coming in for a sweat session in our infrared sauna, the same attire rules apply.
Sauna Fashion from Around the World
Now, for the fun part: sauna fashion highlights across the globe!
From Scandinavia to Japan, people around the world have a long-standing tradition of enjoying the health and relaxation benefits of saunas. There are as many different customs around what to wear in a sauna as there are bathing rituals around the world! Let’s take a closer look:
Scandinavian Saunas: Bare is Beautiful
You don’t wear clothes in a Scandinavian sauna– it’s considered a major faux pas. Apart from mixed-sex saunas (where bathing suits are the norm), Scandinavians, particularly Finns, traditionally go to the sauna naked or wear a towel. The sauna experience is deeply rooted in Finnish culture and is seen as a place of health, cleanliness, and purity. Nudity is a way of fully immersing oneself in the sauna experience, embracing authenticity and the essence of being.
This practice also helps to remove any judgement or social barriers that could be present in a clothed sauna. It is believed to be the best way to appreciate the sauna ritual and enjoy the benefits it provides.
Turkey: The Art of the Pestemal in Hammams
There is a simple cotton garment called a pestemal, or fouta, that is worn in Turkish hammams. It’s a traditional Turkish towel made of cotton, linen, or bamboo, and it comes in bright colors with patterns or stripes. Lightweight, absorbent, and quick-drying, it is very comfortable on bare skin. It is commonly worn around the waistline by men, and they may choose not to wear anything beneath. On the other hand, women usually wear the pestemal slightly higher, covering themselves from the chest to the hips, and they usually wear underwear, a swimsuit, or a bikini bottom underneath.
Russia: A Hat for the Banya
You can often find participants in a traditional Russian banya wearing unusual-looking hats. These banya hats are made from thin layers of felt, which are lightweight and breathable. They’re designed to protect the head from the intense heat of the sauna, which is a huge contrast to frosty Russian weather. Although the hat may seem silly on your head, it provides comfort and insulation for your head by absorbing moisture and heat.
Japan: Embracing Simplicity at the Sento
In Japanese bathhouses, known as sentos, the practice is, like in Scandinavian cultures, to bathe in the nude. Swimsuits and underwear are not allowed, but you are supposed to carry along a small towel to cover your nether regions while you’re outside the water. At the sento, visible tattoos are often not allowed due to their association with the Yakuza, Japan's organized crime syndicate – with their nudity rules, hiding a tattoo in a sento is going to be a tall ask.
Be a Part of Sauna Tradition at Sauna House
If you’re ready to jump into the world of sauna culture, come see us at Sauna House to try it first hand. Treat yourself to some solo wellness time or enjoy our facilities with friends. We look forward to seeing you!