Sauna Etiquette (10 Things to Keep in Mind)

Last updated: February 5, 2022

You’d be forgiven for thinking that using a sauna is simply a matter of sitting on a bench in a hot room for a short amount of time.

But there are some rules and guidelines that you should keep in mind when using a sauna in a gym or in a spa, especially in a public one.

Sauna etiquette certainly is not complicated and often comes down to common sense and respecting your fellow sauna users.

Let’s dive a little deeper into sauna etiquette so you know what to expect next time you are going to get your sweat on.

10 Tips for Good Sauna Etiquette

In no particular order, here are 10 tips for maintaining good etiquette when using a public sauna.

1. Respect the Dress Code

Some saunas are naked saunas, and others aren’t.

In some saunas you can come in with just a towel, in others you may be required to use swimwear.

Sauna towel

Please always respect the dress code that may exist in the sauna of a gym or spa that you’re visiting.

Failing to do so can often lead to awkward or even inappropriate situations.

2. Don’t Play Music

It may be tempting to create extra atmosphere in the sauna by playing music, but this is considered poor sauna etiquette.

Not only does everyone have different taste when it comes to music, a sauna is meant to be a quiet place where silence, or otherwise soft talking, is very much appreciated.

3. Use a Towel

While there are some saunas, especially in Finland, where being completely naked is perfectly normal, it’s usually expected to use a towel when entering a sauna.

People in sauna

You should then use the towel to either sit or lie on.

This will protect your body from the heated surface of the bench, and the bench will stay protected from your sweat. This is also much more hygienic.

4. A Sauna Is Not a Gym

While many gyms nowadays have saunas and steam rooms, the sauna itself is not a gym. The sauna is a place to sit back, unwind and relax.

Moving around in the sauna and doing weird movements such as excessive stretching is not appropriate behavior. It’s very distracting for your fellow sauna users, even when the sauna room is a bit bigger.

Most sauna users simply want to relax, and they expect others in the room to have that same mindset. As such, it’s best to do your workout before or after using the sauna.

5. Leave Your Smartphone Outside

We all lead busy lives and we can’t imagine a world where we’re not constantly online and connected.

Using phone in sauna

But the sauna is a place to relax, and part of that relaxation experience is to disconnect. So please leave your phone outside and enjoy the serenity of the sauna environment.

Besides, most smartphones don’t like the high temperature in a sauna very much, let alone the sweat and moist they may get exposed too.

6. Don’t Groom Yourself

A sauna is not a bathroom. This means you shouldn’t use a sauna to brush your teeth, shave your face or legs, or wash your hair.

It’s disrespectful to others sitting in the same sauna room, not to mention the fact that it can also be quite unhygienic.

7. Take It Easy on the Rocks

Pouring water over sauna rocks creates a pleasant steam effect that quickly heats up the room.

The issue with splashing cold water on the rocks, when done too often or with too much water, you risk cooling the rocks too much or even flooding the sauna heater.

It’s important to find a good balance between creating heat and not cooling off the sauna rocks too much. This way, both the rocks and sauna heater will suffer less fatigue and will last longer.

Steam effect in a Finnish sauna

In addition, depending on the type of sauna rocks and their quality, over-watering them can cause damage. It may even cause them to burst.

So while it may be tempting to keep pouring water over the rocks to get that steam going, this is considered bad etiquette.

Also, please always ask your fellow sauna users before splashing water over the rocks, because not everyone welcomes the extra heat and steam.

8. Keep the Door Closed

A big no-no in the world of saunas is to leave the door open for too long when entering or leaving a sauna.

For those enjoying the heat inside, the much colder temperature from outside feels very unpleasant.

This also means you should not be repeatedly coming in and leaving the sauna. Not only will this affect the heat in the sauna, it is also very distracting for the people inside.

9. Make a Quiet Entrance

When entering a sauna which already has people inside, it’s generally expected to make a bit of a quiet entrance.

Traditional sauna

This is to respect the ones inside who are expecting to be able to enjoy their sauna experience in quiet surroundings.

Talking loud while coming in, or slamming the door can be very disruptive.

10. Shower Before Entering a Sauna

Having a quick shower before visiting a sauna, for hygienic reasons, is generally considered good etiquette.

It’s also recommended to not use strongly perfumed shampoo as that may interfere with the natural or aromatic smells inside the sauna.

 

Sauna etiquette guide (10 things to keep in mind)

 
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