Last updated: January 19, 2020
You may be forgiven for thinking that using a sauna is as simple as sitting on a bench in a small 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.
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. 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 a quiet place where silence and soft talking is very much appreciated.
2. 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 site 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. So please do your workout before or after using the gym.
3. 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.
Please always respect the dress code that may exist in sauna of the gym or spa that you’re visiting. Failing to do so can often lead to awkward or even inappropriate situations.
4. 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.
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.
5. 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 in the same sauna, not to mention the fact that it can also be quite unhygienic.
6. Leave Your Smartphone Outside
We all lead busy lives and we can’t imagine a world where we’re not constantly online and connected.
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.
Besides, most smartphones wouldn’t enjoy the temperature in the sauna very much, let alone the sweat and moist they may get exposed too.
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.
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 the people inside.
9. Make a Quiet Entrance
When entering a sauna, it’s generally expected to make a bit of a quiet entrance. This is to respect the ones inside who are quietly enjoying their sauna experience.
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.