A crisp white lab coat conveys a lot about the person wearing it. It commands an air of respect, trust and even authority. Keeping your lab coat clean and white displays your professionalism. It also helps you maintain an attitude of confidence. Though sending your coats to the dry cleaners is always an option, washing, drying and ironing your lab coats at home doesn’t have to be a difficult task. This handy guide will allow for keeping those white lab coats white and pristine.
Best practices for cleaning white lab coats made from cotton, synthetic or cotton-polyester blend fabrics
Laundering - How to Clean White Lab Coats
Though the lab coat is worn as an overcoat, it accumulates microbes and dirt that is not always visible. For safety, it’s best to wash lab coats often. A load of one or more white lab coats together should be washed weekly, as a dedicated load.
- For your personal safety, use disposable gloves when handling lab coats containing unknown pathogens.
- Set your washing machine to the hottest water setting possible, checking the fabric wash label first.
- Check all pockets for pens, tissues, and other items.
- Wash medical clothing separately, being sure to keep whites together.
- Use a detergent such as Tide or Persil (see list of recommended products below). For extra brightness, use an oxygenated laundry soap.
- Do not use fabric softeners in order to keep the lab coat bright and add to the longevity and efficacy of high-tech fabrics.
- Pre-treat stains with stain removers.
- After washing, wipe down the washing machine with disinfectant.
Treating stains - How to Remove Stains from Lab Coats
It’s best to treat the stains as soon as possible. To get out stubborn stains, soak lab coat in cold water with a ¼ cup of or scoop of oxygenated detergent. Rub the stained area with the solution, then let it soak overnight. The next day, wash lab coat as you normally would, and if the stain is still visible, pre-treat with a stain remover such as Shout or Resolve.
- Ink stains – Ballpoint ink stains don’t have to be the end of your white lab coat. If you’ve gotten ink stains on your lab coat you have likely wondered, “how to get pen out of white lab coats?” Take heart, it can be done! As soon as you get ink on your coat, do not try to clean or rub the area.
- Once you get it home, assemble the following items to help remove the ink: paper towels or clean rag, rubbing alcohol, your stained lab coat.
- Place a paper towel under the stain, with additional paper towels or a clean rag, blot the area with a generous amount of rubbing alcohol. Blot until the ink dissolves or disappears, changing the blotting rag often. Wash immediately.
- When washing cycle is completed, check to see if stains persist. If still visible, treat with spray stain remover, then wash again, using a strong detergent.
- Place a few paper towels under the stain.
- Using a clean rag, cotton gauze or paper towels, blot spot with hydrogen directly on top of the stain.
- You may need to blot a few times until the stain is lightened. After blotting, soak the lab coat in cold water and a scoop of oxygenated laundry detergent overnight.
- If blood stains persist, blot with hydrogen peroxide again, then with a clean white cloth on the stain, gently place a warm iron on top of the area for a few moments
- With gloved hands and a piece of cardboard, tongue-depressor, or other item for scraping, remove excess protein from the lab coat.
- In a large bucket of cold water add and dilute a ¼ cup enzyme detergent and ¼ cup baking soda. Soak coat for a minimum of one-hour. Baking soda helps reduce odors. Remove from solution and wash as usual.
- In some cases, it’s best to soak a white lab coat in hot water and an enzyme detergent. Then wash as usual.
- After removing from the washing machine, check to be sure stains are removed. If not, re-treat stains with liquid or spray stain remover and wash again. It can take a few washes to get especially tough stains out.
For tips on how to remove stains from scrubs check out our previous blog post!
Whitest whites - How to White a Lab Coat
Over time, white fabrics have a tendency to yellow. A laundry agent will help maintain whites.
- Bluing agents: Bluette or Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing Agent should be added to a load of wash and will help brighten back to white. First, dilute the bluing agent in cold water in a separate (preferably glass) container first. Add this mixture to the machine in the wash cycle – BEFORE you add the white lab coats. Some directions are different between bluing agents, so carefully read through the instructions contained on the bottle. Use the bluing agent once a month to your lab coats to help keep it bright white.
- Laundry boosters: Laundry boosters will help to keep your whites from getting dingy. For HE machines, add about ½ scoop directly into the machine drum along with the white lab coats. A little goes a long way. For top-loading machine, add one scoop directly into machine with coats, along with your laundry deter
- Distilled white vinegar: When using distilled white vinegar, add one cup to the rinse cycle. For HE machines, add recommended HE quantity to the fabric softener compartment. Do not fill above the recommended quantity.
Drying and Ironing White Lab Coats
Set dryer to medium heat, just before completely dry, remove coats and, if necessary, iron using a hot setting. Hang up immediately. Please note that 100% cotton lab coats will likely need to be ironed.
Keeping your white lab coat nice, clean and looking great is simply a matter of having the right products and regular washing. Your presentation to staff and others will leave a nice impression when your lab coat is looking sparkling and crisp. Over time white lab coats will begin to wear out even with the best care, when it comes time to replace it shop our premium white lab coat.
Recommended products for Keeping Your White Lab Coat Looking White
- Rubbing alcohol (to remove ink stains)
- Baking soda (odor removal)
- Hydrogen peroxide (blood stain removal)
- Distilled white vinegar (helps with detergent residue removal, brightening)
- Bluing agents: Bluette, Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing Agent (brightening)
- Strong laundry detergents: Persil, Tide, Gain
- Laundry boosters: OxiClean, Borax
- Oxygenated detergents: OxyBoost, OxiClean, Tide Oxi (additional cleaning and brightening)
- Stain Removers: Resolve, Shout Advanced Stain Remover, OxiClean MaxForce Stain Remover, Tide to Go Instant Stain Remover, Zout