Can You Wear Flip Flops or Shoes in the Sauna or Steam Room?

Steam rooms and saunas are perfect ways to relax the body either after a serious workout or a long day at work. But since these rooms require as little clothing as possible, it’s important to know what to wear and what to avoid. So besides wearing towels or baggy t-shirts, can you wear flip flops or shoes in the sauna or steam room?

You can wear flip flops or shoes only in a personal steam room or sauna. But for publicly shared saunas and steam rooms, wearing shoes or flip flops might come off as impolite to others who are barefoot. It is rude to wear shoes in a sauna or steam room since it makes the lower sections unsanitary.

Are you looking to learn more about the dos and don’ts of shared saunas and steam rooms? Then you couldn’t be in a better place. Read on as we discuss common sauna and steam room etiquette that you should know.

Why You Should Avoid Flip Flops or Shoes in the Sauna or Steam Rooms

There are two main reasons why you would want to avoid wearing flip flops in the sauna or steam room.

Shoes and Flip Flops Might Appear Inconsiderate

Some people might argue that wearing clean shoes or flip flops in the sauna and steam rooms does little harm. However, putting on shoes (no matter how clean) in a shared space can leave a bad impression on other users, especially those who are barefoot.

As a result, it is important to be considerate of other users, more specifically those who are barefoot inside the sauna or steam room. In case you must wear something, ask around for the standard flip flops provided for all users.

Dirty Shoes or Shower Sandals Are Unhygienic

It is impolite and unethical to wear dirty shoes or flip flops in the sauna or steam room. Remember, these spaces are usually enclosed, and people mostly sit with towels on. To make matters worse—there are usually upper and lower seating areas, meaning everyone (especially people seated on the upper sections) needs to have clean feet.

When Can You Wear Flip Flops or Shoes in the Sauna or Steam Room?

Ideally, wearing shoes in a sauna or steam room is a no-no! The whole idea is to expose as much skin as possible, meaning you’re better off without closed shoes in a sauna or steam room.

Flip flops are more acceptable in the sauna and steam rooms than shoes. In fact, you’ll find that shoes are deemed illegal in almost all steam rooms or saunas. But before you walk into a sauna with your flip flops, be sure to inquire about the policies put in place. Some saunas and steam rooms provide users with flip flops for use inside the steam rooms.

However, if you have a sauna or steam room in your residence, then you’re free to decide what is acceptable or unacceptable. But the general rule of thumb is that sauna or steam rooms should be shoe-free areas to maintain high hygiene levels.

What to Avoid in the Sauna or Steam Room

In addition to flip flops and shoes, there are a few other things that you should avoid as well.

Tight-Fitting Clothes

For a sauna or steam room session to be successful, it is important to wear loose clothes. Oversized t-shirts and towels are ideal for the steamy environment in a steam room, especially since you’re likely to sweat profusely in the heated environments.

Try as much as possible to avoid sweaters and tight-fitting clothes as they’ll absorb sweat, which does little to help cleanse your skin.

Lotions and Creams

When going for a sauna or steam room session at your local gym, it is advisable to steer clear of lotions and creams as they tend to clog up pores. But if you must apply the creams and lotions, try to do so after the session.

The idea is to clear your skin of toxins, allowing it to replenish and recover. Chances of proper cleansing, however, are minimal when your pores are covered by lotion.

Metal Jewelry and Piercings

Remember, steam rooms and sauna work by releasing extreme heat to promote sweating and clear up pores. And since metals are known to be good conductors of heat, you might end up hurt if you enter the sauna or steam room with metal piercings or jewelry. Good thing leaving your jewelry at home or in the car for an hour or two won’t do much damage.

Dirty Clothes and Shoes

Whether you’re in a personal or shared sauna, it’s important to prioritize hygiene. The last thing you want is to contaminate the steam room with bacteria from your dirty shoes and clothes.

Therefore, if you want to enter the sauna or steam room after working out, be sure to take a shower and put on a clean towel. And if you must wear flip flops, put on clean ones that can’t contaminate the floors!

Steam Room vs. Sauna: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between a steam room and a sauna is the type of heat provided. Saunas use dry heat, usually obtained from a closed stove or hot rocks. On the other hand, steam rooms are usually heated by a generator filled with hot (boiling) water. Although the temperature in steam rooms tend to vary, they are mostly kept around 110 °F (43.3 °C).

Health Benefits of Steam Rooms and Saunas

  • Reduction of stress – As revealed by Healthline, steam rooms and saunas help to reduce the production of cortisol, the body’s stress-regulating hormone. Spending several minutes or even hours in the sauna and steam room helps drop your overall cortisol levels, making you feel more relaxed and in control.
  • Clears congestion – Steam rooms and saunas create environments that promote deep breathing. The hot air inside the rooms warms the mucous membrane, which helps break up congestion inside the lungs and sinuses. Regular usage of steam rooms and saunas improves overall lung and heart health, consequently promoting blood flow throughout the body.
  • Promotes skin health – Steam rooms and saunas work by using heat to open up pores. The condensation in steam rooms rinses away the piled-up dirt beneath the pores. This helps to reduce the occurrence of breakouts, improving your skin tone and texture.
  • Boosts workout recovery – The pain felt after workouts is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Saunas and steam rooms produce intense-enough heat that can penetrate deep into tissues and relieve DOMS. As revealed in a study on the effectiveness of heat in muscle recovery, moist heat effectively boosts muscle recovery compared to dry heat in saunas.

Steam Room or Sauna Etiquette

  • Always inquire before entering the steam room or sauna – Steam rooms and saunas have varying rules depending on management. Therefore, be sure to inquire in advance about the set rules and regulations to avoid breaking the rules.
  • Carry the right clothes – Training gear and heavy clothes won’t do it in the extra hot steam rooms and saunas. You’ll need light clothes, preferably cotton robes or wide-enough towels. Remember to carry your oversized t-shirt if you don’t fancy wearing a towel in the steam room.
  • Use clean flip flops (if necessary) – If the sauna or steam room doesn’t provide flip flops for clients (and allows people to carry their flip flops), be sure to carry clean flip flops. Never use dirty flip flops in a sauna or steam room since it is unhygienic and can expose others to bacterial infections.

Final Takeaway

When in steam rooms and saunas, it is best to observe the rules and regulations set in place by management.

However, shoes are generally prohibited in steam rooms and saunas, as they tend to carry a lot of dirt and bacteria. While you can wear flip flops in saunas and steam rooms, inquiring before bringing your home flip flops (or buying new ones) is advisable.

Try as much as you can to inquire from management whether they provide flip flops or allow clients to come with theirs. In case usage of flip flops is allowed, be sure to clean them up regularly to keep them hygienic for use in the steam room or sauna.