A coed sauna refers to a sauna that allows men and women to use the facility together without rules of segregation. This immediately gives “rise” to a pressing issue: does this mean everybody gets naked? Understand that the sauna, by concept, is meant to be enjoyed in the nude. It is a super-heated room that provides beneficial effects to the skin and body, as well as deep relaxation. The more clothes you wear in the sauna, the worse you will feel. Some saunas do not permit wearing any clothes inside the room, including bathing suits. In fact, let’s discuss...
What then is proper coed sauna etiquette? If you are enjoying a traditional Finnish sauna, or happen to be traveling to a European country, then do not give a second thought to nudity. Not only is nudity not a big deal over there, but it’s not even sexualized. The Finnish people love their saunas and get naked in no time in front of family and friends whenever it’s time for a relaxing steam.
Now here comes the complication: when you are in America (as well as a few other countries) sauna nudity is not allowed. In fact, since nudity is banned in public places in America, bathing suits are actually required. Other countries which ban coed sauna nudity include Britain, France, Italy and Spain. Countries that do allow nudity include Finland, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and most of Eastern Europe.
When it comes to single sex sauna etiquette, much of the same rules apply. (Bear in mind not all single sex saunas are gay-friendly.) Naturally, the guilt-ridden United States bans all public nudity, regardless of co-ed policies. Sauna facilities through Europe, however, do tend to have a more lenient view of nudity in single-sex sauna rooms. Regardless of what country you are in, you should always sit on a towel while relaxing in the sauna.
The answer is easy—when in Europe, always respect the custom of the coed sauna by removing your clothes. It can be considered disrespectful to ignore the custom. After all, if you’re the only one wearing clothes inside the sauna, you are now making everyone else uncomfortable. Interestingly, in America and certain other countries wearing no clothes while everyone else wears swimsuits can get the same type of negative attention. Regardless of co-ed sauna nudity rules, always carry a towel with you in public areas and inside the sauna. Remember, even in the U.S. where sauna nudity is not allowed, your swimsuit should expose most of your skin to the heat. You do want to follow the rules, but at the same time, wearing heavier clothing or even full swimsuits is counteractive to the sauna’s benefits. Guys should wear short shorts, and girls should squeeze into a skimpy bikini. The basic idea of a sauna is to expose most if not all the skin so you can clear your pores. In order for this cleansing to take place, your body must be exposed to open sauna air. These basic guidelines can help you prevent misunderstandings when visiting a coed sauna in Europe or the U.S.