If you’re lucky enough to have your own sauna, you’re free to use it however you like.
However, most people don’t have this luxury, and must instead make use of public saunas.
When it comes to public saunas, there are a few unwritten (and sometimes even written) rules that you should follow to make the experience enjoyable for everyone. These rules are collectively known as sauna etiquette.
1. Keep it clean
Cleanliness and hygiene are of utmost importance in the sauna.
Before you enter the sauna, make sure to properly rinse off any dirt, sweat, and strong scents from your body. You don’t need to use soap unless you know you’re particularly dirty.
The sauna itself should also be kept clean. Many people use a small cloth linen (known as a laudeliina or pefletti in Finnish) to cover the bench before they sit down, to keep it clean.
In general, avoid doing anything in the sauna that others might find disgusting. This means no farting, spitting, grooming, or scraping dead skin off your feet.
2. Follow the dress code
In Finland, it’s common to go to the sauna naked. However, this isn’t the case everywhere, and public saunas often have signs outside the sauna room indicating what you should wear. Be sure to follow the instructions on these signs.
You might be asked to wear a towel, swimsuit, or gym shorts, depending on the location.
If you’re invited to a Finnish sauna but don’t feel comfortable sitting naked in a small room with other people, don’t hesitate to mention it. Despite what some “guides” might say, most Finns aren’t too strict about this aspect of the sauna culture. It’s just a habit.
3. Be considerate of others
It’s important to take the comfort and enjoyment of others into account while in the sauna.
Before throwing more water on the sauna stove, ask others if they’re okay with it. If they give you permission, don’t overdo it. A ladle or two of water is usually enough.
Public saunas are meant to be enjoyable for everyone, so don’t start any “saunaing competitions” with your friends if there are other people in the sauna.
4. No electronics in the sauna room
Sauna bathing is all about relaxation. Don’t bring your phone or any other electronic devices into the sauna room with you. Not only will you look like a total douche, but the light from your screens will ruin the relaxing atmosphere.
5. Calm conversation is okay
Having a calm conversation with your friends or other sauna-goers is fine, but avoid being too loud or getting into heated arguments while in the sauna. The sauna is a place of peace and tranquility, and people go there to relax and unwind.
When it comes to chatter, be mindful of those around you. Avoid bringing up controversial topics that might lead to heated debates.
6. Consider the next sauna-goers
In public saunas, people are constantly coming and going. When you leave, be sure to leave no mess behind and to leave enough water in the sauna bucket for the next group of sauna-goers.
Finnish Sauna Society guidelines for good saunaing
The Finnish Sauna Society recently updated their guidelines for good saunaing.
- Rinse off any dirt and strong odors before going into the sauna.
- Avoid using any scents in the sauna facility.
- Having a calm conversation is appropriate, but avoid unnecessary loudness.
- Be considerate of other sauna-goers: ask if they want more water to be thrown on the stove, and refill the sauna bucket if necessary.
- Public saunas are not the place for saunaing competitions, but whisking (lightly beating oneself with a bundle of branches) is allowed.
- Remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after the sauna.
- If you’re feeling unwell or have any health concerns, consult with a doctor before using the sauna.
- Follow the rules and customs of the sauna facility and respect the sauna and its surroundings.
Sauna etiquette is all about being considerate of others and maintaining cleanliness and hygiene. By following these simple guidelines, you can help ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and relaxing sauna experience.
What is sauna etiquette?
Sauna etiquette refers to the unwritten (and sometimes written) rules that people should follow when using a public sauna. These rules are designed to ensure that everyone has a pleasant and relaxing experience, and include things like keeping the sauna clean, following the dress code, being considerate of others, and avoiding loud conversations or arguments.
What should I wear to a public sauna?
Public saunas often have signs outside the sauna room indicating what you should wear. This could be a towel, swimsuit, or gym shorts, depending on the location. In Finland, it’s common to go to the sauna naked, but this isn’t the case everywhere. If you’re unsure what to wear, look for a sign or ask the staff.
Is it okay to talk in the sauna?
Having a calm conversation with your friends or other sauna-goers is fine, but avoid being too loud or getting into heated arguments while in the sauna. The sauna is a place of peace and tranquility, and people go there to relax and unwind. Be mindful of others and keep your conversations quiet and respectful.
Can I bring my phone or other electronic devices into the sauna?
No, it’s not a good idea to bring your phone or other electronic devices into the sauna. Not only will you look like a douche, but the light from your screens will ruin the relaxing atmosphere. Leave your electronics outside the sauna room and enjoy some unplugged relaxation.
Should I shower before going into the sauna?
Yes, it’s a good idea to shower before going into the sauna. This will help rinse off any dirt, sweat, and strong scents from your body, and will help maintain cleanliness and hygiene in the sauna. You don’t need to use soap unless you know you’re particularly dirty.
Is it okay to throw water on the sauna stove?
Yes, it’s common to throw water on the sauna stove to create steam and increase the heat. However, before doing so, be sure to ask others if they’re okay with it. If they give you permission, don’t overdo it. A ladle or two of water is usually enough.
Is it okay to use scents or fragrances in the sauna?
No, it’s not a good idea to use scents or fragrances in the sauna. Not only can these interfere with the natural aroma of the sauna, but they can also cause allergic reactions in some people. It’s best to avoid using any scents or fragrances in the sauna facility.
What should I do if I’m feeling unwell or have health concerns?
If you’re feeling unwell or have any health concerns, it’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor before using the sauna. Sauna bathing can be beneficial for some health conditions, but it can also be harmful for others. A doctor will be able to advise you on whether it’s safe for you to use the sauna.
Is it okay to whisk (lightly beat oneself with a bundle of branches) in the sauna?
Whisking (lightly beating oneself with a bundle of branches) is allowed in the sauna, but it’s not something that everyone enjoys. If you want to whisk, ask others if they’re okay with it. If they’re not, respect their wishes and don’t do it.
What should I do if I see someone breaking the rules of sauna etiquette?
If you see someone breaking the rules of sauna etiquette, calmly remind them of the rules. Be polite and respectful, and avoid getting into an argument with the person. If the person continues to break the rules and is disrupting the enjoyment of others, you can alert the staff of the sauna facility and they will handle the situation.