What to Wear in The Sauna: Advice for Public & Private Saunas
To dress for success in any sauna – infrared, Finnish, portable, steam room – start by undressing. Then, if you must, add what’s necessary for modesty or personal comfort – but be careful not to wear the wrong stuff.
Here are your choices:
The best choice of all! The sauna is experienced best in your birthday suit, wearing nothing but a smile and a towel around your waist to protect the bench and your privacy. Don’t even wear jewelry and glasses. Let your exposed skin sweat freely. Just be clean and dry when you enter.
If you must cover, for personal or public reasons, choose a loose-fitting swimsuit made from natural fibers. For women, a bikini top or any other way to minimize coverage will make the sauna more comfortable. Avoid fibers and dyes that will be affected by the heat, and be sure to rinse off between pool and sauna.
3. SOMETHING MORE.
If you need more coverage than a swimsuit, as called for in some cultures such as coed Korean saunas, choose cotton. A loose-fitting tee-shirt and shorts or a cotton wrap will breathe and let your skin breathe, too. Put them on just before getting into the sauna. And skip the underwear, including bras.
You must not wear shoes in the sauna under any circumstances – they’re dirty, they hold heat, and they could leave you with athlete’s foot. Even shower shoes must never touch the bench. So-called “sauna suits” are also a terrible idea, because their plastic fabric interferes with the sauna’s heat and exhales toxic fumes. Sweatsuits also have the reverse effect in the sauna: they insulate your skin and delay your sweating. Do not wear your sweaty workout clothes in the sauna and never, never wear street clothes that will release all the nasty stuff you picked up all day. If you must cover up, there are acceptable choices. Better still, go naked.
5. KEEP IT CLEAN.
When you wash your sauna wear, just use vinegar or at most a gentle detergent formulated for bay clothes. Avoid chemical-heavy commercial detergents. Run the clothes through an extra rinse and dry them normally.
The sauna is a place for health and relaxation, not fashion statements. The less that comes between you and the heat, the more you’ll enjoy your session and the more benefit you’ll get from it.