What Is a Good Substitute for a Sauna? (6 Solid Alternatives)

Going to a sauna on a routine basis is not feasible for many people. But why should individuals who are unable to access the pleasures and comfort of a sauna forfeit the benefits of said sauna? There must be some alternatives that they can take advantage of.

There are several at-home sauna alternatives that provide the user with similar benefits that are typically associated with a commercial sauna such as relaxation, stress relief, and improved health. The most effective alternative is a portable sauna, but you can also use a sauna blanket, steam shower, hot tub, or even your regular bath or shower.

Read on to learn more about mimicking saunas, their effects, and their benefits. Also discover different alternatives and determine which of these alternatives are good substitutes to a typical sauna.  

How does a sauna provide so many potential benefits?

Many sauna users are attracted to saunas for the popular list of benefits. For some, it is the relaxation and tension release. For athletes, in particular, it is the post-workout muscle relief. For individuals in a certain age group, it is the reduction of the risk of cardiovascular disease. But how exactly is this attained?

While enjoying a session, sauna users will experience an increase in body temperature which leads to more blood flow. The improved blood flow increases the body’s cardiac response and decreases the blood flow to internal organs. 

Basically, the more you sweat, the more your blood pressure will decrease and your heart rate will increase. 

There have been studies on the effect of sauna bathing. One such study did conclude that sauna bathing is good for athletes and those with cardiovascular disease and rheumatological disease. The study can be found here at the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Saunas can:

  • Lead to relaxation
  • Help with the flu
  • Help with skin conditions
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help with pain management
  • Help with arthritis
  • Reduce risk to cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce inflammation

Saunas produce hormones like growth hormones and endorphins which lead to the user’s state of relaxation. They strengthen the immune system which helps with cold and flu. 

It is recommended that individuals with certain medical conditions seek medical advice prior to sauna usage. 

Can you mimic a sauna?

Building a sauna unit in your home may not be an option for you due to spacing. However, this should not deter you from your goal of having an in-home sauna. 

Mimicking a sauna in your home is possible. There are specific conditions you need to meet in order to mimic a sauna, mainly the creation and heat and steamy atmosphere.

Saunas create an environment in which you sweat and the temperatures for a typical sauna ranges from 120-195°F. 

The best alternatives and substitutes for a sauna

For those opting for a sauna alternative, there are several options to consider. The best option for you will be dependent on the amount of space in your home, your budget, and the specific requirements of your particular choice.

Here are the best sauna alternatives and substitutes:

  • Portable sauna
  • Sauna blanket
  • Steam shower
  • Hot tub
  • Turning your bathroom into a steam room
  • Taking a hot bath/shower

Keep reading to find out more about each potential sauna substitute.

Portable sauna

As an alternative, portable saunas are the closest to experiencing an actual sauna. They have the added benefit of being a great space saver as you can fold or dismantle and store it after every use.

Portable saunas reach the same temperature (120-140°F) as an in-home sauna. They also offer the same benefits of relaxation, pain relief, decrease blood pressure and decrease inflammation.

These saunas have a price range starting at $150 depending on the brand. They are tent-like enclosure that requires a chair or bench to sit on. It may or may not have a space that you stick your head and hands out of.

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Sauna blanket

For an alternative that doesn’t take up space but produces the same effects, sauna blankets are a great option. This option is portable, compact, and versatile. It can be used while sitting on a chair, on the floor, or on a bed. Once done, it can be folded and stored just about anywhere. 

Sauna blankets use far-infrared heat to heat your body instead of the air. They can reach a temperature of up to 160°F.

Similar to the typical sauna, a sauna blanket helps with muscle relaxation, pain relief, lowers blood pressure and inflammation, and helps with detox. 

As an alternative, a sauna blanket is actually the most affordable alternative. Sauna blankets have a price range of $100 to $500. 

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Steam shower

Steam showers are relaxing and are great for sinuses. The benefits of steam showers include lower blood pressure, improved skin, and improved circulation.

For those with more than one bathroom in their home, you should use the smaller bathroom for a greater heat enclosure to maximize your experience. 

A steam shower requires the use/installation of a steam generator. Steam generators have a price range of $1000 to $4000. Should you require installation assistance, prices could increase exponentially. 

With the touch of a button, users can activate their steam shower. The steam generator will heat the water to about 120°F and steam will come out through the steam head. 

Besides the benefits of actually using a steam shower, it is said that homeowners can increase the value of their homes with the installation of a steam shower. 

Hot tub

As an alternative to saunas, hot tubs do offer similar benefits. The benefits of hot tubs include lower blood pressure, relaxation, pain relief, and a decrease in stress. 

Hot tubs can reach a maximum temperature of 104°F and require at least a 110-volt electrical outlet. There are also hot tubs that use 220 volts and those may require an electrician for wiring.

Hot tub prices vary greatly, ranging from $3000 to almost $30,000 for more luxurious options. Some models include spa jets which provide target area massages.

Turning your bathroom into a steam room

This option of turning your bathroom into a steam room should not be confused with a steam shower. Turning your bathroom into a steam room is an alternative for individuals not trying to spend any money.

If you have more than one bathroom, you should choose the smaller bathroom in order to maximize the level of heat enclosure. 

To ensure the heat or steam stays in the bathroom, seal off any space in which air can enter or escape. This is accomplished by placing a towel in the crevice of bathroom doors and windows. Once the bathroom is sealed, you can set your ambiance by turning down the lights or lighting a candle then turning on the hot water shower.

This method is not as controlled as the other options therefore, it is not considered as effective. 

Lastly, with this method, you want to make sure you get rid of the moist air afterward to prevent mildew and mold. 

Hot bath or shower

Another alternative that costs nothing for users is simply taking a hot bath or hot shower. What makes taking a hot bath or hot shower similar to a sauna?

Typical or traditional saunas release a heat shock protein. Therefore, the goal in taking a hot bath or hot shower is to immerse the body in hot water to elicit the same protein response.

This option is good in theory however, it may be difficult to achieve for some. Sensitivity levels vary from person to person and the mere presence of water can increase an individual’s sensitivity level, making it harder to get the same effect of an actual sauna.