Feel undressed in swimwear

Do I really have to be completely naked in a public sauna?

From TRAVELBOOK | December 15, 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Many people get flushed even before they go to the sauna: because they are reluctant to show themselves naked in public. In addition, there is the uncertainty about how to behave properly in the sauna. Taking a sauna is a very simple matter. TRAVELBOOK has summarized the most important rules, questions and answers.

1. Do I really have to be naked?

The question that people ask themselves most often before going to the sauna: do you really have to be undressed? In Germany, the following applies to most saunas: Yes, you have to. In order to be absolutely sure that the visitors in this country adhere to it, the textile ban is explicitly pointed out in the sauna rules, which are posted for everyone to see.

The German Sauna Association has a very clear stance on this topic: “We prefer to be naked in the sauna. It corresponds to the Finnish tradition and also makes sense from a medical and hygienic point of view, ”says association member Hans-Jürgen Gensow. Without fabric on the skin, sweat can flow off better and the heat can be better dissipated.

There are no really reliable findings as to whether textiles on the skin are unsanitary when taking a sauna. As a counter-argument one could argue that a towel that is wrapped around the body or used to sit down - possibly even when going to the sauna several times - would be unhygienic from this point of view.

In some saunas, an exception is made with regard to clothing in order to enable people with a great sense of shame or those who do not want to be naked for religious reasons to have a sauna. So it seems as if the question of whether you really have to take a naked sauna is a cultural matter and less a scientifically explored one. Especially since different rules apply in other countries.

2. How can I avoid the nude obligation?

It's simple: as a man, you wrap a towel around your waist and, for women, around your upper body. However, you should also make sure to have a second towel with you to place it under your feet and thus prevent sweat from getting on the seat surfaces.

Some also use the towel in this way to hide the fact that they are wearing swimming trunks or bikini or bathing suit underneath. After all, nobody in the sauna is checked to see whether they are really undressed under the towel. However, last year a visitor was expelled from a German thermal bath, precisely because she had tied a towel. In case of doubt, a lawyer for travel law explained to TRAVELBOOK when asked, it is up to each sauna operator himself how he ultimately interprets the meaning of the word “textile-free”. If a guest does not comply with the applicable rules when requested by the staff, a house ban may be issued.

3. How do you go to the sauna in other countries?

In contrast to Germany, in most countries of the world it is rather unusual for one to sweat naked. "There are different customs in different countries," explains Hans-Jürgen Gensow from the German Sauna Association. In Spain, Great Britain, the USA, Italy and Brazil, for example, the following applies: Textile-free is taboo!

There are countries that do it like the Germans and where people usually take a sauna in the nude, but then the principle that men and women do not share cubicles applies very often, for example in Japan or South Korea.

In Finland, Germany, Austria, South Tyrol, Poland, Russia and the Netherlands you can go to the sauna naked. "Anyone abroad who is unsure whether naked sauna bathing is okay should ask the sauna operator," advises Gensow.

According to the expert, there is another cultural peculiarity in Finland: men and women saunas naked - but separately from each other. "Only close family members or very good friends go to the sauna together," says Gensow.

Also interesting: 14 German thermal baths and baths with mandatory nudism

4. What are the taboos in the sauna?

A sauna session is primarily for relaxation and physical well-being and not for staring at or looking at others. And everyone should behave in such a way that they do not attract everyone's attention: for example by excessively revealing poses, loud conversations and other noises or behavior that is not appropriate in a sauna.

What almost goes without saying: Fumbling is also not appropriate. This doesn't just mean fiddling with your partner's body, but also your own.

Also interesting: 19 things that you should absolutely avoid in the sauna

5. Can I talk in the sauna?

As mentioned earlier, conversations shouldn't be loud. It is also inappropriate to laugh out loud. Soft whispering is okay, though.

Also interesting: Advice - This is where the sauna types differ

6. How do you have a sauna properly?

When asked by TRAVELBOOK, the experts from the sauna bath in Berlin explain what to look out for so that the sauna is a really relaxing and healthy experience:

  1. Do not take a sauna on an empty stomach! You should have eaten something beforehand and, above all, drunk enough. The strain on the circulatory system is often underestimated when taking a sauna.
  2. Always shower beforehand - and dry off! This is not only due to hygienic reasons: dry skin can exhale better.
  3. Do not take a cold shower immediately after the sauna! It is best to cool off for a few minutes in the fresh air. This is far more gentle on the circulation.
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