Going to the sauna first time, you might have questions about sauna etiquette, such as:
- What do I wear to the sauna, and should I go naked?
- How hot is it and how long should I stay there?
- What do I even do in the sauna?
The proper sauna etiquette depends on the country or specific rules of the gym or spa where the sauna is located in. In short, the main rules of sauna etiquette are to take a shower before you go in, be respectful of others, and clean up after yourself.
Here are my 14 most important sauna rules and guidelines for proper sauna and steam room etiquette:
The 14 Rules of Proper Sauna Etiquette
1. Don’t Use the Sauna if…
It’s probably isn’t a good idea to go the sauna if you are:
- Sick or you have some underlying medical condition
- Very dehydrated
- intoxicated (although in Finland it’s very common to have a beer or two in the sauna)
2. Make Sure You’re Clean Before Entering – Take a Shower!
Always rinse yourself before entering the sauna. No one wants to sit in your filth, so please rinse yourself before going to a sauna.
The sauna rules at most gyms and spas tell you to shower before.
3. Respect the Dress Code (or the Lack Thereof)
In Finland, most people go to the sauna naked even in public saunas. But wearing a swimsuit or a towel is always acceptable of course.
If the spa or gym rules specify wearing a towel, you need to follow the rules and respect the dress code.
The gym sauna etiquette prohibits you from going to the sauna in your workout clothes! Always wear a clean swimsuit or use a clean towel.
Be respectful of the dress code even when going to the sauna with your friends. If someone is uncomfortable with nudity, consider wearing a towel.
4. Enter and Exit the Sauna Calmly but Quickly
The heat “escapes” from the sauna if the door is left open for too long.
According to good sauna and steam room etiquette, you should enter the sauna quickly without blocking the door if other people are going in or out.
But don’t rush! The floor is often wet and slippery, so while the goal is not to let the heat escape, don’t run and slip on the wet floor.
5. Don’t Talk too Loudly or Disturb Other People in the Sauna
Many people go to the sauna to relax and unwind.
It’s good sauna etiquette not to disturb the other people in the sauna. It’s okay to talk to your friends but try to keep your voice down if others are trying to relax.
6. Don’t Listen to Music in the Sauna
Taking your phone in the sauna or playing music is often frowned upon in the sauna.
Leave your speaker and phone in the locker room.
If you absolutely can’t be in the sauna without playing music, you can try taking your AirPods in the sauna, although they might not handle the heat well.
7. Be Considerate of Others and Don’t Hog the Sauna to Yourself
It might be nice to lie down in the sauna to relax, but if the space is getting tight, make room for others.
Public saunas are for everyone to use, so make sure you’re not the d-bag hogging up the whole sauna to yourself!
8. Throwing Water on the Sauna Heater
The way to increase the heat and steam in the sauna is to throw water on the stones. Most places will have a bucket of water and a ladle for throwing water, but it’s worth noting that in some countries, like Germany, there is a dedicated Sauna Meister, or “sauna master” whose job it is to throw the water and the patrons of the sauna are not allowed to throw water themselves.
Your heat tolerance might be higher or lower than others.
I’ve been to the sauna many times with someone who threw water on the stones like nobody’s business and the heat got unbearable for most people in the sauna room.
Good sauna etiquette is to ask others if they are okay with you throwing more water on the rocks.
How hot is a sauna? Read our guide!
9. Fill the Water Bucket
Don’t leave the sauna for the next person to find out there’s no more water in the bucket.
If you used all the water, please fill up the bucket for the next person.
10. Bringing Food or Drinks into the Sauna
Bringing a bottle of water into the sauna is usually always okay. Other food and drink are usually not allowed.
The public and gym sauna guidelines usually forbid bringing any alcoholic drinks or food into the sauna.
In a home sauna, it is okay to bring other drinks, like a cold beer, in the sauna.
In Finland, it is quite popular to heat sausages wrapped in foil on the sauna heater and then eat them in the sauna with some mustard. But be careful! You don’t want the grease from the sausages to leak into the heating element of the sauna heater.
11. Get out of the Sauna when It’s Time
Typically, people stay in the sauna for 10 to 20 minutes. It’s not a good idea to stay there for longer than this, especially without some breaks.
If you start to feel dizzy, leave the sauna calmly.
12. No Grooming in the Sauna!
Do I even have to say this?
Don’t shave in the sauna. That’s just gross.
13. Don’t Exercise in the Sauna
While it might be alright to do some light stretching in the sauna, don’t use the sauna room for your workout!
Exercising in the sauna will probably annoy other people there. There is also a risk for your health because you get dehydrated and overheated way easier in the sauna.
14. Keep the Sauna Clean
Keep the sauna clean for the next guests to use.
Take all your belongings, water bottle, trash, and towel with you.
It’s also considerate to rinse your seat after you get up. Just throw some water on your seat with the same ladle used for throwing water on the rocks.
Good sauna etiquette makes sure that you are well-prepared to go to the sauna and also let other people enjoy the sauna.
The most important sauna rules are to take a shower before going in, be respectful of others, and clean up after yourself.
With these sauna rules are on your way to a great, relaxing sauna experience!
Let me know in the comments if you have some more sauna rules and guidelines to share!