Steam rooms are a wonderful source of relaxation, but they can also be a source of anxiety for people unfamiliar with steam room etiquette. A few basic rules should be followed to make the steam-room experience a pleasant and comfortable experience for everyone.
Bare Essentials of Etiquette
Follow the rules posted by individual establishments. Every respectable public steam room has a policy list near the entrance. Read the rules. Don't go barrelling into a steam room naked if the rules clearly state that a bathing suit is required.
It is rarely appropriate to be totally naked in a public steam room. Proper etiquette requires that a person wear at least a towel. The towel soaks up the sweat and toxins released by the steam. The towel also provides a barrier between your bottom and the bench on which you are sitting. Never sit bare-bottomed on the steam room bench.
If you are alone in the steam room and feel a need to let the towel drop, be prepared to cover up if someone else enters the room. You may feel perfectly comfortable naked but others may be more modest.
For purposes of hygiene, shower before using the steam room. Don't subject your steam mates to pre-steam dirt, sweat and offensive odours.
Do not bring food or drinks into a steam room. Typically, plastic-bottled water is the only beverage allowed inside a steam room and some places have rules against that. Gum is just a bad idea whenever you're in any confined space with other people since gum smacking is annoying.
Do not bring a cell phone or other communication device into a steam room. The electronics don't hold up well to the steam and other guests don't want to listen to your conversations.
Don't bring children into a steam room. There's a minimum age requirement for most steam rooms--not only for health and legal purposes, but also for purposes of common courtesy.
The steam room is not the place for personal grooming. Shaving facial, leg, underarm or back hair is never appropriate. Likewise, don't tweeze eyebrows, clip toe and fingernails, or fiddle with blemishes.
Don't go to a steam room looking to talk. A polite hello or nod is acceptable but most people are in the steam room to relax, not to make conversation or new friends.
Lewd or suggestive behaviour is never acceptable and is most likely illegal in a public steam room.