Sauna Etiquette 101 – Know Your Do’s and Don’ts

by Philip | Last Updated: February 25, 2018 When you buy something using the links on our posts, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

Is it your first time going to a public steam room or a sauna? Or, have you gone before but suddenly heard that there are actual unacceptable behaviors inside? Either way, we’ll guide you through basic sauna etiquette so you can relax to your heart’s content without worrying about breaking some social taboo.

Note that though there are some slight differences to a sauna versus a steam room, the acceptable (and expected) behaviors are the same.

Sauna Do’s

1. Watch Your Volume

If you’re in a public sauna, it’s traditionally a communal place for meditation and relaxation purposes, and this means silence. If you have to talk while you’re in the sauna, keep your volume as quiet as possible.

2. Come and Go Quickly

Every time someone opens the door, steam is released and the sauna’s temperature goes down. When you leave or come in, do so quickly and close the door to prevent steam from escaping.

3. Bring Three Towels

The optimal number of towels to bring to an American sauna room is 3 (they will be provided by the hotel or spa). You’ll wear your first towel while you’re in the sauna (if it’s not a naked sauna), you’ll sit or lay on your second, and the third stays outside because you’ll use it to dry off when you’re done.

4. Be Mindful of Your Sauna Mates

Treat the sauna and everyone in it with respect. It’s not a right to be in here, and you can be tossed out for being rude, disruptive, or rowdy.

5. Shower Before Entering

Before you get into the sauna, take a short shower or at least rinse off. This will help you get rid of any body odors, sweat, or bacteria that may be clinging to you. You want to go into the sauna clean.

6. Dress Appropriately

You want to dress appropriately for your specific sauna type. In the United States, many public saunas are not naked saunas. This means you should either leave your towel on or wear a bathing suit underneath while you’re in the sauna.

However, if it’s a Scandinavian or a German sauna, it’s expected that people will go naked. Research or give them a call to make sure.

7. Ask Before You Add Steam

This point goes back to common respect for the other people that are sharing the sauna with you. If you want to change the heat or steam amounts, ask your sauna mates first if it’s okay to do so. Everyone wants to be comfortable.

Sauna Don’ts

1. Over-Water the Rocks

If you over-water the rocks, you’ll get clouds of steam that can quickly overtake and fill the sauna. This can make it uncomfortably hot for everyone in the sauna, so it’s best to always ask before you add steam.

2. Spit in the Sauna

This is more common sense, but we’re listing it anyways. Never spit while you’re inside of the sauna. This is considered very poor etiquette, and it is very unhygienic for your fellow customers and employees at the spa.

3. Bring Your Electronic Devices Inside

If you bring your electronics into the sauna, you run the risk of them getting damaged by the steam and the moisture. They’re also a quick way to annoy the other people in the sauna with the noise if you start playing games or talking.

4. Groom Yourself

A sauna isn’t a bathroom, and it is considered to be very bad sauna etiquette to brush your teeth, brush your hair, or shave while you’re in there. Again, it creates an unsanitary environment for the rest of the people in the sauna as well as yourself.

5. Work Out

People go into a sauna to relax and enjoy the quiet atmosphere. It’s not a place to work out because any noises you may make while doing so can be distracting. If you can’t sit still and enjoy the quiet, it’s best to leave.

6. Be Vocal While You’re Relaxing

Everyone gets it, relaxing can feel wonderful, especially after a rough day. However, you shouldn’t groan, moan, or make loud noises while you’re relaxing. This is a very fast way to annoy other people.

7. Use a Sauna as a Personal Clothes Dryer

Yes, steam is a wonderful way to get stubborn wrinkles out of your clothing, and the warm temperatures work wonders for drying your clothing. However, hanging your clothing by the rocks is a safety hazard, and it’s just generally bad etiquette.

Any time you visit a sauna, you should consider that it is a privilege and not a right. If you routinely practice bad sauna etiquette, you can be thrown out. Public saunas have these general etiquette rules so everyone can be safe and relax in peace.

If you prefer relaxing alone and to the beat of your favorite music, consider getting your own personal infrared sauna at home. If you have cash to spare, this can be a viable option for you and you don’t have to worry about other strangers in a room with you.

Author: Philip Andrew

A writer and teacher who enjoys lazing around and building winter nests out of duvets. “Most are too itchy. You’ve got to be picky.” His goal is to create a complete home spa for 24/7 access to rest and relaxation. Next on the agenda: a barrel sauna for the garden. Connect with Philip on Twitter @completehomespa.