Should You Use a Hot Tub or Sauna First? How to Combine Them Safely

Jennifer Rhodes

By Jennifer Rhodes · Updated

Should You Use a Hot Tub or Sauna First? How to Combine Them Safely

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Both saunas and hot tubs are wonderful ways to relax your mind and body. If you're lucky enough to have access to both of them on a regular basis, you might be wondering which one you should do first.

Most people prefer to use the sauna first, then follow up with a cool shower and the hot tub afterward. This is because you're likely to sweat more in a sauna due to the higher temperature.

That said, there's no hard and fast rule here. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of each option, and what the benefits are of both of these relaxing experiences.

Why use the sauna before the hot tub?

While both sauna and hot tubs provide many relaxing benefits, the most popular order of use among people who like to use both in the same session is to use the sauna before the hot tub. There are a couple of reasons for this.

You'll sweat more in the sauna

Using a sauna draws out any sweat along with any impurities and things like dirt trapped in your skin. You can then wash all of this away with a cool shower in between. This is great to do before you go in the hot tub because you will be very clean, which is ideal for minimizing any dirt you introduce to the hot tub.

Most hot tub manufacturers recommend that you go into the hot tub with clean skin, so the sauna-plus-shower combo is a great way to ensure that your skin is extra squeaky clean before your soak.

Of course, you will also sweat in the hot tub. But the average temperature of a hot tub is only 100-104°F (38-40°C), which is nothing compared to the toasty 150-195°F (65-90°C) you can expect in most saunas.

You want to avoid chlorine smell in the sauna

Another reason for this preference is that when you leave the hot tub, you'll have some residual hot tub chemicals on your skin. While these shouldn't smell if the spa is maintained perfectly, many hot tubs (especially public ones) are low on sanitizer, which is what causes that 'swimming pool smell' we all know.

Even if you rinse off after using the hot tub, you won't be able to entirely remove the smell from your skin. Nobody wants the earthy smell of the sauna ruined by that nasty chemical smell you associate with the local public pool.

Why use the hot tub before the sauna?

In case you're not convinced just yet, there is one reason you might prefer to soak first. A few people I've spoken to say they feel very tired after using the sauna.

In evening sessions especially, they simply don't feel like using the spa after their sauna time is up, and simply prefer to cool off and settle down for the night.

If this sounds like you, you might want to consider hot tubbing first, rinsing off as much as you can, then using the sauna. Or just use the spa and sauna on different days. There's a heavy overlap in benefits between the two anyways.

Can I go right from the sauna to the hot tub, or vice versa?

It's not recommended to immediately get out of a sauna and into a hot tub.

The biggest reason is that your body needs a chance to cool off a bit from the sauna before getting back into another hot environment. With sauna temperatures usually ranging from 150°F to nearly 200°F, it takes some adjusting for your body to cool down.

Always aim to alternate hot and cold, so for example: sauna to plunge pool to hot tub, or hot tub to rolling in the snow to sauna, etc.

Even though hot tubs are considerably cooler than saunas, your body should be allowed some time to cool off before submerging in hot water.

The best thing to do is step out of the sauna and towel off with a clean towel. Take a cool or cold shower, or just sit for 10-15 minutes and rehydrate until you can feel your body return to a normal temperature (skin no longer warm to the touch or pink). Then you're ready to take a dip in the spa.

4 tips for using the sauna and hot tub together

Using both a sauna and a hot tub is a great way to help aid in the relaxation of your mind and body. Both have unique properties that can help soothe sore muscles and allow you to deeply relax.

Before you use the hot tub and the sauna, there are a few important things to know to make the experience a great one:

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Both the sauna and the hot tub will make you sweat and lose precious water and salt, which can lead to dehydration. It's important to drink water before and after both your hot tub and sauna sessions to ensure you stay properly hydrated.

If you get dehydrated in the sauna or hot tub, you might feel lightheaded or unable to cool down even after being out of the heat for several minutes. If this happens, try your best to rehydrate as soon as you can with water and electrolytes. Energy drinks are great to have on hand for this.

Take a break in between

Allow yourself 15 minutes or so between the sauna and the hot tub so your body can cool down properly.

If you don't want to wait that long, you can do something cooling in between. This could be a cold plunge pool, being outside in the snow (depending on where you are), or even just a cold shower.

This is the best way to enjoy both the sauna and hot tub experiences safely and comfortably.

Limit your time

It's recommended not to stay in either the sauna or the hot tub longer than 10-15 minutes at a time, especially if you plan to use them at higher temperatures.

If you want to use both in one sitting, one approach is to plan for a 45-minute experience: 15 minutes in the sauna, 15 minutes to cool down, followed by 15 minutes in the hot tub.

You can obviously use less time for any of these depending on what feels right for you, but it's best not to exceed 15 minutes for either to avoid overheating your body.

Listen to your body

Take note of how you feel in both the sauna and the hot tub. This goes for using hot tubs or saunas in general of course, but is especially important when you want to combine them in the same session.

If you notice any uncomfortable feelings like lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, discomfort, or excessive heat, step out immediately and allow your body to cool down. Use that as a barometer for the next time and make sure not to exceed the time that your body is comfortable with.

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