What to Wear in a Sauna: A Detailed Guide

woman wearing bikini in sauna

Visiting a sauna can be a deeply relaxing and beneficial experience for both your mind and body. However, many first-timers, and even seasoned sauna-goers, often find themselves puzzled over what to wear in a sauna.

This guide aims to demystify the dress code for sauna enthusiasts, covering everything from general sauna wear to specific attire for different types of saunas.

Key Takeaways:

  • Prioritize Breathable Fabrics: Cotton and linen are excellent choices.
  • Safety First: Avoid synthetic materials and tight clothing.
  • Hygiene is Essential: Wear clean clothes, shower before entering, and use a towel.
  • Respect Sauna Etiquette: Be mindful of noise levels and others’ comfort.
  • Remember, the key to choosing sauna wear is to prioritize comfort, safety, and respect the sauna’s environment and others’ experiences.

Understanding the Basics of Sauna Attire

The primary goal of your sauna attire is to maximize comfort while adhering to safety and hygiene standards. Traditional sauna etiquette across various cultures emphasizes minimal clothing. This is because heavy or synthetic fabrics can hinder the natural sweating process, a crucial aspect of the sauna experience.

Clothing for Sauna: What’s Ideal?

What to WearWhat Not to Wear
Towel for comfort and hygieneSynthetic Fibers: e.g. nylon, polyester
Swimsuit without metal fastenersTight Clothing- restricts skin breathing
Cotton Clothing: shorts, t-shirt, wrapJewelry and Metal Accessories
Loose-fitting, breathable FabricsShoes and Workout Clothes
Makeup (can clog pores)

The rule of thumb is to keep it light and breathable. Natural fibers like cotton are often recommended. For example, a lightweight cotton t-shirt or a pair of shorts can be ideal. Sauna apparel like loose-fitting, breathable swimwear is also acceptable, particularly in public saunas where nudity isn’t an option.

Sauna Wear for Women

two women in sauna
Source: Pexels

For women, comfort and minimalism should guide your choice. A swimsuit or a two-piece bikini are popular choices. Some women prefer to wrap themselves in a towel for added comfort.

Here’s our list of what women can wear:

  • Swimsuit or Two-Piece Bikini: A popular choice among many women. Opt for swimwear made of breathable fabrics and without metal fasteners to avoid discomfort from heated elements​​.
  • Towel Wrap: Wrapping a large towel around the body is both a modest and hygienic option. It’s practical and comfortable, especially in communal saunas​​​​.
  • Cotton T-Shirt and Shorts: A loose-fitting, breathable cotton t-shirt paired with shorts can be a comfortable choice for those who prefer more coverage​​.
  • Linen Clothing: Linen offers a lightweight and breathable option, suitable for the warm environment of the sauna. Linen shirts and skirts or shorts can be ideal​​.
  • Cotton Tank Top and Shorts: For a simple yet comfortable outfit, a cotton tank top with shorts can be ideal. Ensure they are loose-fitting for optimal comfort and breathability​​.
  • Bamboo Robe or Kimono: For an eco-friendly and skin-friendly option, bamboo robes or kimonos are excellent. They are soft, antibacterial, and very comfortable for sauna use​​.

Sauna Outfits for Men

When addressing what sauna outfits are for men, the attire isn’t vastly different. Men can opt for swim trunks or a towel. It’s essential to avoid clothing that’s too tight or made of non-breathable materials.

Here’s our suggestion for Men: 

  • Swim Trunks: A popular choice for men, swim trunks offer comfort and are suitable for sauna use. Choose trunks without metal fasteners to avoid discomfort due to heating​​.
  • Towel Wrap: Wrapping a towel around the waist is a common and hygienic option. It provides coverage while allowing the skin to breathe​​.
  • Cotton Shorts and T-Shirt: For those who prefer more coverage, loose-fitting cotton shorts and a t-shirt can be a comfortable choice. Cotton is breathable and absorbs sweat effectively​​​​.
  • Linen Clothing: Linen shirts and loose pants are another good option. Linen is lightweight and breathable, ideal for sauna use​​.
  • Cotton Wrap: Similar to a towel, a cotton wrap can be used for a simple and comfortable sauna outfit​​.
  • Boxer Shorts: For a minimal yet comfortable option, cotton boxer shorts can be worn. They are breathable and allow for easy movement​​.
  • Athletic Wear (Breathable): If opting for more coverage, select athletic wear that is lightweight and moisture-wicking. Avoid tight-fitting and synthetic materials

Sauna Hats

sauna hats

Sauna hats are not just for style; they keep your head cool and protect it from getting too hot, which can be a problem in the high temperatures of a sauna. 

Originally from Russia, sauna hats have been used for centuries and were made from straw due to its heat resistance. Nowadays, they are commonly made from wool, which is excellent for heat resistance and comfort. 

Wearing a sauna hat can help absorb sweat, protect your hair from damage, and regulate your body temperature, allowing for a longer and more enjoyable sauna session.

Choosing a Sauna Hat

Choosing the right sauna hat involves considering the material, size, fit, and design. Wool felt is a popular material because it insulates well, is durable, and absorbs sweat effectively. 

A good sauna hat should fit snugly without being too tight and cover most of your head. There are many designs available, from traditional to modern and fun styles. It’s also important to select a hat that is easy to wash and maintain, as it will absorb a lot of sweat. 

Public Sauna Dress Code

In public saunas, such as those in gyms , the dress code may vary. However, modesty is key. Lightweight shorts or swimwear are generally acceptable. Remember to check the specific rules of the sauna you’re visiting.

Special Considerations for Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas, which operate at lower temperatures, may allow more flexibility in clothing choices. Light cotton wear or even workout clothes could be suitable for these settings.

Sauna Etiquette

Source: Pexels

Understanding sauna etiquette is vital. It’s not just about ‘what to wear in a sauna’ but also how you conduct yourself. Respect for others, cleanliness, and following the specific rules of the sauna are crucial for an enjoyable experience.

What Not to Wear

Source: Pexels
  • Avoid Synthetic Fibers: Fabrics like nylon and polyester can trap heat and moisture, leading to overheating and discomfort.​​
  • No Tight Fitting Clothes: These can restrict the skin’s ability to breathe and interfere with the benefits of sweating​​​​.
  • Steer Clear of Jewelry and Metal: Metal accessories can heat up and cause burns. It’s best to leave these items outside the sauna​​​​.
  • Shoes, Workout Clothes, and Makeup Are a No-Go: Workout clothes can release dirt and odors in the heat, while makeup can clog pores. Shoes, especially those with synthetic materials, can release fumes when heated
  • Don’t Bring your phone in the sauna. Although smartphones are rated as water resistant, they are not designed to withstand heat and steam. Read more: Can You Bring Your Phone in the Sauna?


Can you wear clothes in a sauna?

Yes, but it’s advisable to wear light, breathable fabrics like cotton. Heavy or synthetic materials are not recommended.

What should you wear in a sauna if you’re not comfortable being nude?

Opt for a swimsuit or light shorts and a t-shirt. Comfort is key, so choose attire that makes you feel at ease.

What to wear to a public sauna?

Modest swimwear or light shorts are typically acceptable. Always check the specific guidelines of the sauna you’re visiting.

How is sauna attire different for infrared saunas?

Infrared saunas operate at lower temperatures, allowing more flexibility in clothing. Light workout clothes or cotton attire can be suitable.

What are you supposed to wear in a sauna for hygiene purposes?

A towel is essential, both for sitting on and for personal hygiene. It helps maintain cleanliness and absorb sweat.

Wrapping Up

Understanding what to wear in a sauna is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re visiting a traditional or infrared sauna, public or private, the key is to prioritize natural, breathable materials that complement the sauna’s purpose – relaxation and detoxification. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well-prepared for your next sauna session.

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