What To Wear In A Sauna For The Best Experience

Saunas are magical places for relaxation and rejuvenation. Whether you’re hitting the sauna at the gym, or experiencing traditional sauna culture around the world as you travel – here’s what to wear in a sauna for the best experience.

Using a sauna has the potential for dozens of health benefits. A sauna can offer relaxation, better blood circulation, and boost weight loss. Spending time in a sauna can have physiological effects and impact the hypothalamus, central nervous system, and sympathetic nervous system. These activated areas can improve cardiovascular and skin health and heart rate.

Spending time in a sauna after a workout – and having a refreshing shower – can help the metabolism change and build proteins to reduce stress and inflammation and stabilize insulin production.

what to wear in a sauna

However, it can be challenging to figure out what to wear in a sauna. You may want to abide by some rules to make everyone in the sauna comfortable, including you. Wearing proper clothing will ensure that everyone is safe, healthy, and comfortable getting health benefits from the sauna.

Fortunately, finding the right clothes isn’t hard, and there are many options. But there is also plenty of clothing you should avoid wearing in a sauna!

What Is A Sauna?

A sauna is a type of bath from water dripping over warm stones. The practice of using a sauna may have come from Finland, although some people claim its origins are in Scythia and Central Eurasia. Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian from around 400 B.C.E., describes seeing saunas during his travels through Central Eurasia.

Saunas are commonplace in Finland and appear beside lakes. Many swimmers jump into the lake before heading into the sauna for some relaxation.

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What To Wear In A Sauna

Finding the correct clothing to wear in a sauna doesn’t have to be challenging. Proper clothing can be simple, fashionable, minimal – or just wear nothing at all!

Depending on the location and purpose of your sauna, being nude is completely fine. But some sauna-goers may prefer the coverage of a simple towel in these traditional sauna settings.

If you need to (or choose to) wear clothing – make sure you pack your gear ahead of time to ensure you don’t forget it or use clothing that won’t be suitable.

Ensure that you choose something loose-fitting and breathable. Some of the best options include minimal, easy-to-get clothing.

what to wear in a sauna

Cotton Clothing

The best clothing to wear in a sauna is items made of lightweight cotton or natural fibers. Cotton clothing is breathable and will help your body release sweat and toxins. Light, loose cotton underwear, bra, t-shirt, or shorts are ideal.

Wearing a pair of cotton pants in a sauna is overkill, and may cause you to overheat which is not what you want! Instead, choose an oversized shirt or underwear.

However, if you wear underwear in the sauna, be mindful of the other people inside who might not like the thought of your sweaty underwear butt sitting on the bench next to them. Use a towel in tandem with any cotton underwear.

Loose-Fitting Clothes

Loose-fitting clothing is perfect for a sauna because it will not cling to your body and cause chafing, rashes, or welts from the build-up of sweat. Using loose-fitting shirts can give you a range of movement and be easy to take off, although soaked with sweat and water.

A loose-fitting set of clothing will also fend off bacteria and allow you the utmost comfort in the sauna.


Using a towel to cover yourself may be uncomfortable for many. However, a towel is the best option for comfort, health, and vitality, if you are comfortable wearing one. The towel will absorb sweat and keep bacteria and build-up away while exploring the health and relaxation benefits of your sauna experience.

Choose an ultra-absorbent towel that will hold plenty of sweat and water without getting soaked quickly. If you don’t want to wear one, you can also take a towel to sit on for hygiene purposes.

Oversized T-Shirt

An oversized T-shirt and a pair of underwear can be an acceptable alternative to a towel in the sauna. If you are uncomfortable wearing a plain towel, an oversized T-shirt can offer you the comfort and coverage you may desire.

An oversized T-shirt will be easier to take off after getting wet with sweat and moisture. An oversized shirt won’t impact your range of motion and will allow you to move freely while damp. Ensure that you wear appropriate bottoms that are not see-through, white, or too small. Bringing an extra towel to drape around your middle, over your lap, or cover yourself can keep everyone comfortable in the sauna.


A swimsuit is an ideal alternative to a towel, oversized shirt, or other cotton clothing. A swimsuit is appropriate for a sauna and will be a considerate alternative to other traditional items. 

Consider bringing an extra towel to keep yourself covered, remain sanitary, and keep everyone comfortable. An extra towel or washcloth can also help keep sweat from dripping off your body or building up under your swimsuit.

Additional Gear

You may want to consider using additional gear to make your trip to the sauna even more comfortable. Some foundational items can help you keep your feet free from bacteria, keep your face clear of dripping sweat, and help you stay in line with behavioral expectations.


Having proper footwear like sauna slides is highly recommended when using a sauna.

Bacteria and germs love warm, wet, and moist locations. Saunas, bathtubs, showers, and heated pools are perfect locations for bacteria to grow, and these bacteria can cause contagious and harmful health issues.

Athletes’ foot bacteria, for example, enjoys sweaty feet and moist areas, and can be transferred when walking on the bare floor where someone else with an athlete’s foot has stepped. Wearing proper footwear can keep diseases and bacteria from coming home with you.


A washcloth can help you keep sweat from your face and make your sauna stay more comfortable. Using a washcloth can prevent sweat from getting into your mouth and eyes. A washcloth can also keep other parts of your body free from pooling sweat. Wiping your neck, behind your ears, and face can keep any dermatological issues from rising.

Bring one washcloth for every hour you intend to spend in the sauna to help keep any skin problems at bay.

Extra Towel For Sitting

Bringing an extra towel to sit on is great sauna etiquette. Using a towel under you when you sit on the benches in a sauna shows that you care about the people around you and that you are considerate of others.

Using an extra towel to sit on is vital if you are wearing a swimsuit, just a plain towel, or an oversized shirt. This can keep the sauna benches from getting dirty and keep germs at bay.

what to wear in a sauna

What To Avoid Wearing In A Sauna

Using a sauna means abiding by some rules and being polite and considerate to the other people in the sauna. Keeping yourself healthy means choosing the proper clothing, and being considerate of others means considering how you smell, act, and behave.

There are a few categories of clothing you should always avoid wearing in a sauna due to the effect it can have on you and the people around you. You can get used to packing an extra set of correct clothing and forgoing poor choices with time and patience.

Dirty Clothes

Dirty clothing in the sauna after a workout is inconsiderate to others using the sauna, and will make your clothes smelly when they start to heat up! The smell of sweat, body odor, and bacteria can travel and fill the whole sauna with an unpleasant scent that may linger for a long time after you’ve left.

Consider taking a shower and using a soap with a gentle scent before heading into the sauna. Bring a change of clean clothing to wear, to ensure no unpleasant smells come into the sauna with you.

Tight-Fitting Activewear

Tight-fitting clothing and activewear are not ideal clothing to wear in a sauna. Many activewear items or tight-fitting clothing consist of synthetic material, which may not absorb sweat as well as cotton or loose clothing.

With nowhere to go, sweat can build up in sensitive areas and cause skin or dermatological problems. Activewear and tight-fitting clothing can cause rashes, chafing, and skin sensitivity, which will make your sauna a not-so-great experience.

Avoid wearing tight-fitting cotton clothing, as well. Although better than activewear or synthetic clothing, tight clothes can fill quickly with sweat and be challenging to take off later.

Synthetic Clothing

Synthetic clothing contains polyester, spandex, and other material that may cause health issues in a sauna. For example, some spandex clothing can trap sweat against your skin and cause rashes, chafing, or allergic reactions.

Cotton clothing absorbs sweat, but synthetic clothing will not absorb as much moisture and can cause dermatological trouble.

Final Thoughts – What To Wear In A Sauna

A sauna can be a perfect way to relax, get several health benefits, and boost your mental health. Your metabolism, insulin production, and cardiovascular health are only a few health benefits you can achieve from using a sauna – especially after exercise.

Wearing plain cotton clothing is ideal. Whether this is a large towel or an oversized T-shirt doesn’t matter since both options can help you sweat and purge toxins. You may need or want additional gear like some footwear to prevent from catching contagious bacteria, or a washcloth to wipe sweat from your face.

You may feel more comfortable in a bathing suit. A two-piece swimsuit can help you sweat while maintaining comfortable coverage. Avoid using tight-fitting clothing like activewear, yoga pants, or dirty clothing from a workout.

Using a sauna can help boost your mental health, and using the right clothing can make the experience even more enjoyable.

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