Does Infrared Penetrate Clothing?

Today we’re going to be looking at the question “Does infrared penetrate clothing?”. If you’re thinking about going in an infrared sauna with some basic elements of clothing, you might be wondering if the fabric of the garments you’re wearing could hinder the beneficial health effects of your session. As we will see further down below, this will indeed be the case. At least partly.

Does that mean that you cannot enjoy the benefits of your infrared session with some basic, light clothes on? Not at all.The experience of my infrared sauna cabin without any clothes on is my favorite,

though. You don’t care about that, and I don’t blame you. But it gives you the maximum amount of benefit in one session.

Pro’s And Cons Of Clothing

I know this is going to sound very simple, because it is simple. The less things that get in between you and the infrared rays, the better. I always recommend to wear nothing at all during your session in the infrared sauna. Just take a couple of towels with you. One to sit on and one to wipe away the sweat. Sitting on a towel will help to protect the bench or the floor against dripping sweat. It’s best to avoid wet stains on the woodwork of your sauna cabin in order to prevent the formation of mold or fungus.

If you do have to wear something during your infrared sauna session, it’s best to use something light and breathable, like a tank top or cotton t-shirt and shorts. The cons of clothing in your infrared sauna are that clothes will diminish the efficiency or amount of infrared benefits for your body. Feel free to read my article on what to wear in an infrared sauna for more on this.

The subheading of this section is called Pro's and Cons of Clothing, so I guess I'll have to touch on the pro's of clothing as well.

The pro's of clothing during an infrared sauna session are, well, um ...

Ok, you get the picture :-)

How Does Infrared Penetrate Clothing?

The question “How does infrared penetrate clothing?” or “How does far infrared penetrate clothing” for that matter, can best be answered with a visual representation. Take for example the image of the tree casting a shadow.

Does Infrared Penetrate Clothing - Shadow Cast By Tree

As explained in other parts on my site, infrared is part of the natural energy that is emitted by the sun. It is the heat that we experience when we are walking in the sun. If you take a look at the picture of the tree and the shadow, we can assume that the temperature of the air around the tree will be the same, regardless of whether the air is in a overshadowed zone or not. But if you walk from out of the shadow into the sun, you will definitely experience a difference because your body will feel the heat from the infrared energy in the sunlight. Your body is then directly heated by the infrared energy from the sun, which is exactly what happens in an infrared sauna as well.

Even though there’s a shadow cast by the tree, there is still an amount of light from the sun that makes it through. In the picture you can see that there still are some "sunny" spots in the shadow. That’s more or less comparable with infrared rays that have to travel through layers of clothing. Part of the energy will be absorbed and reflected by the clothes, but part of it will make it through anyway.

Does Infrared Penetrate Clothing - Car Seat Heated In The Sun

Another way of looking at the question “Does infrared penetrate clothing” is by the example of this car seat which has been heated up by the sun. The black, leather fabric of the car seat has accumulated quite a lot of heat from being exposed to the sun and now “radiates” heat back. If you were to sit in this car seat wearing a t-shirt, obviously you would be able to feel the heat penetrate through the t-shirt, but it wouldn’t be as much as if you were wearing no t-shirt. That’s because, again, part of the energy is absorbed or reflected back by the t-shirt.

You might be wondering what a heated car seat has got to do with infrared energy? Well, as a matter of fact, any object that has been heated and that emits energy in the form of heat also emits infrared energy.


This again, can best be understood if you take a look at a picture from an infrared camera looking at a car that has been running for a certain period of time (just to stay in the realm of cars).

Does Infrared Penetrate Clothing - Car Engine Infrared Heat Camera

The engine of the car will be warm and will also be emitting energy that is captured by an infrared camera, because part of that energy is also infrared.

Obviously, the infrared heaters in an infrared sauna are far more efficient at emitting infrared energy than car engines or heated car seats, which is why we prefer to use infrared heater technology. But the point to take home here is: the less layers of clothing the infrared energy has to penetrate, the more efficient and rewarding your session will be.

With this example I hope to have illustrated a possible answer to the question “Does infrared penetrate clothing” and I would certainly like to invite you to explore other articles on my site in order to get to know more about the amazing (health) benefits of infrared saunas. Please also consider liking this article (by using the like button just below) or participating by using the comment section below. I would highly appreciate it, thanks!

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