Clothes For Gym Sauna: Undergarments, Footwear, Hat? (Etiquette)

Wearing the wrong clothes in a sauna can cause discomfort, overheating, and skin irritation due to heat and moisture. Selecting proper clothes for a sauna ensures comfort, safety, and hygiene.

You should wear something light and comfortable at a public or gym sauna. You could wear a cotton T-shirt and shorts or swimwear or just a towel if you are comfortable with it. Most gym saunas have dress codes so try asking at your gym before showing up in a towel!

That said, in the rest of the article, we are going to take a deep dive into the kind of clothes that are both comfortable and acceptable in public saunas. We will also talk about what kind of clothes you should avoid wearing in a public sauna at all costs. 

But first, let’s take a quick look at whether you should visit the sauna before or after the gym. 

Table of Contents

Do You Have to be Naked at a Sauna?

Being naked in a sauna is not a strict requirement. In many saunas, nudity is the norm, while in others, wearing a towel or swimsuit is acceptable. It ultimately depends on the specific sauna’s rules and cultural norms. Always check the sauna’s guidelines to ensure you follow the appropriate dress code.

How to Choose a Sauna Outfit (Things to Consider)

Whether you are visiting the home sauna or the public sauna, you will need to keep these in mind when choosing a sauna outfit:

1. Lightness

You will sweat a lot inside the sauna. Sweating helps remove dirt from your skin. 

Wearing light clothes will allow you to sweat profusely. Even if the cloth sticks to your body, if you choose the right clothes it won’t hinder the sweating process. 

Some of you are probably thinking that heavy clothes can push your body to sweat more. But heavy clothes are not ideal for sauna sessions. They stick to your skin and clog your pores which means dirt and debris in your skin remain inside.

Moreover, heavy clothes make you feel claustrophobic and you might feel sick or even faint. The bottom line is, to avoid wearing heavy clothes.

2. Breathability

Also, avoid wearing tightly stitched clothes because they prevent hot air from passing through your clothes and reaching your skin. Your clothes must be loosely stitched so that your skin feels the hot sauna air and sweat well. 

3. Looseness

No matter what clothes you wear inside the sauna, they will stick to your skin but still, you need to avoid tight-fitting clothes as they are likely to block the pore of your skin and they can make you feel sick. Opt for loose clothes as they’ll allow hot air to reach your skin. 

4. Ease of Removal

The temperature inside a public or gym sauna is usually comfortable. But, speaking from personal experience, on certain days, you’d wish you could reduce the temperature. In a public setting, the temperature is outside your control.

Therefore, if you were wearing clothes that you could shed off when you need to, then you wouldn’t have to leave the sauna due to the temperature being uncomfortably high. 

women wearing a towel inside a sauna
Women wearing a towel inside a sauna
(Image source: Zerocool from Pixabay)

Clothes You Can Wear in the Sauna

These are the best clothing options in a public sauna:

i. Towel

Inside the sauna, you will need to shed all your clothes, including the undergarment. Use a towel to cover your chest and waist. It will help you to not just cover your private parts but protect your skin from the heat of the seat.

We recommend using a cotton towel because it’s comfortable and absorbs sweat quickly. 

ii. Swimsuit

While towels are a great option, towels can feel heavy, even if you choose the lightest one on the market. So if you want to go for something lighter, wear a swimsuit. A swimsuit gives you appropriate coverage and it’s light on the skin. Get a one-piece.

If you prefer more exposure, choose a bikini-style swimsuit. Just make sure that the swimsuit is made of natural fiber. Avoid using synthetics or PVC fabrics because they block your skin pores.

And there’s a good chance that the PVC fabric will melt at a high temperature.

iii. Loose Cotton Clothes

If you are not comfortable wearing towels and swimsuits and want to go for something that covers your body, then go for some loose-fitting light cotton clothes like an oversized T-shirt and shorts. Avoid wearing undergarments underneath. 

iv. Footwear

Going barefoot inside a sauna is normal. But since it’s a public sauna that can be full of bacteria and other dangerous organisms, wear sandals and shower slippers. It’ll prevent you from slipping in a gym sauna. 

Clothes You Shouldn’t Wear in the Sauna

There are certain things that you shouldn’t wear in the sauna-like your undergarments, tight-fitting clothes, and dirty clothes which include your sweaty workout clothes. These clothes will make you very uncomfortable and would hinder the process of relaxation. 

Avoid wearing socks. Avoid using creams, lotions, makeup, and body oils. These will block your skin pores and cause breakouts. If you do have to make up when you visit the gym sauna, take a shower before stepping into the sauna. 

You should also avoid wearing any kind of jewelry like necklaces, earrings, rings, etc because the heat inside the sauna will damage them. Moreover, jewelry items can become hot and burn your skin. 


Why Wear a Sauna Hat?

Wearing a sauna hat helps protect your head and hair from the extreme heat in saunas. The hat acts as a barrier, preventing excessive heat exposure and retaining moisture, keeping your hair healthier. It also enhances the sauna experience, promoting better relaxation and comfort during your session.


When you are visiting a public or gym sauna, wear something light and comfortable like a towel, swimsuit, or a loose-fitting cotton t-shirt and shorts. Avoid wearing gym clothes and wear sandals or shower slippers. You might also want to check with your gym to see if they have a dress code. 

That said, you should avoid applying any cream, oil, or makeup on your skin. And if you are wearing any jewelry, open them before you enter the sauna.

(Featured image by CRYSTALWEED cannabis from Unsplash)

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