Keep Your Scrubs Clean, Safe and Ready in 2021
Properly laundering medical scrubs has become a hot topic in these last few months, especially as concern grows for spreading viruses and keeping patients, families and friends safe. Washing and caring for nurse scrubs is a matter of employing a few extra steps. We’ve researched with the CDC, questioned medical staff, and compiled the most important details for keeping your scrubs clean, professional-looking and ready to wear for work in this handy, easy-to-follow guideline.
How to Wash Medical Scrubs
- BRING A BAG TO WORK – At the end of your workday, and while still at the medical facility, change out of your scrubs and place in a bag. Keeping the scrubs inside-out, especially for cotton-fabrics, is a good idea to help preserve the colors and extend the life of the scrubs.
- NO SHAKING - It is important to avoid or minimize shaking or moving the clothes. Shaking the scrubs and moving them can increase the chance of them brushing against something and spreading viruses, germs or other bacteria.
- DISPOSABLE GLOVES - As an extra precaution, wear gloves before handling dirty scrubs to remove from the bag. If the bag is reusable, clean it with a disinfectant, using gloves. Disposable gloves are fine to use, removable gloves are fine as well, just remember to disinfect as soon as you’re done using the gloves.
- COLD WASH, GENTLE CYCLE – Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions on the clothing, however, to retain the fabric colors and the life of the scrubs, it is best to wash your scrubs in cold water only. Another way to increase the life of your scrubs is to wash using the gentle or delicate cycle. Warm water is fine, but cold is generally best to sustain the life of the scrubs.
- MACHINE LOAD – While there’s a slight debate on whether washing a load of clothes with scrubs is safe from pathogens, it is recommended to launder scrubs in a separate dedicated load.
- DETERGENT – Most commercial laundry soaps are perfectly fine for washing scrubs, such as Tide, Gain, Persil, etc. Be sure to use High Efficiency (HE)-approved detergents only in HE machines.
- SOFTENER – Fabric softeners are not recommended for scrubs. Higher quality scrubs are made with specific performance fabrics such as moisture wicking or stain resistant features. Fabric softeners leave a coating on these fibers which cause the performance of the fabric to breakdown over time. One option is to add ½ cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle (or the fabric softener cup). This will help to keep your scrubs soft. (If you choose this option, there will be no need to add a dryer sheet.)
- STAINS – If you have stains on your scrubs, use ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide in your wash cycle to help lift out the stains..
- DRYING – If you wish, you may use a dryer sheet to help keep down static cling and to get that fresh smell, however, no dryer sheet is even better for the sake of the fabric technology scrubs. Use a low heat or medium heat setting. Remove the scrubs from the dryer and fold or hang as soon as the cycle is completed. To increase the life of the fabric even longer, avoid using the heat of the dryer and hang the scrubs to dry.
- WRINKLES & IRONING – While removing scrubs from the dryer immediately after the end of the cycle may help prevent the need for ironing the scrubs later, sometimes ironing is needed and recommended. Check the scrubs label to see the best iron temperature but typically you can use a high-heat iron to press your scrubs. Ironing your uniform gives a more polished and professional look.
- GET READY – Immediately after drying and/or ironing, fold your scrubs and place in a clean, plastic bag.
- SANITIZE – Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after handling unlaundered scrubs. Additionally, clean washing machine and dryer doors, knobs, buttons and other surface areas with antibacterial wipes or an approved disinfectant once laundry is completed. If you have additional questions about CDC Approved Disinfectants, check out their interactive tool here.
Here are a few extra tips for keeping your scrubs looking their best!
- If you use perfume, do not spray directly onto the fabric. Spray on an undershirt or underscrub. We’ve got some great tips on what is best to wear under your scrubs on our blog.
- Inspect your scrubs after removing them from the dryer – check for holes, loose threads or stains. Cut off loose threads, and/or darn holes if needed. If you find a stubborn stain, pre-treat scrubs with a small amount of detergent, rubbing it directly on the spot, then re-wash immediately.
- When washing scrubs, turn them inside-out to help maintain color. This is especially important for cotton-based fabrics.
These best practices for maintaining your medical scrubs will help to keep you looking professional and clean.