Introduction: How to Clean and Care for Medical Scrubs
Medical scrubs require special care and cleaning beyond typical clothes. However, this doesn’t mean that these clothes need to be expensive. Medical scrubs are designed for use in medical environments, but they can also be worn outside the hospital setting.
The clothes are made of cotton or polyester that is comfortable and breathable. They can also be machine-washed to cut down on time needed for washing. However, one should not mix medical scrubs with other clothing items since it will reduce its effectiveness as an anti-bacterial barrier.
Therefore, it is important to wash these clothes separately so that they do not contaminate other clothing pieces with bacteria or germs or become contaminated themselves from contact with other items in the laundry cycle.
This article will touch upon how to clean, maintain, remove stains, and care for your scrubs, all of which can be very beneficial for nurses, doctors, and anyone else who wears medical scrubs on the job.
What Are the Best Practices for Taking Care of Your Nursing Scrub?
Despite how mundane it might appear, cleaning your nursing or medical scrubs is an integral part of the job when working as a medical professional. Considering your scrubs are routinely exposed to various contaminants, bacteria, or substances that can cause stains.
Therefore, understanding how to wash and disinfect your scrubs properly is essential in ensuring that you and your loved ones are kept healthy and safe during these trying times. The uniform experts at Head To Toe Uniforms have put together this article on some of the best practices for taking care of your nursing/medical scrubs.
Here are some things to consider when taking care of your nursing scrubs:
- Always ensure that you wash your hands before and after scrubbing your scrubs.
- After they have been worn, soak them in a mixture of water and disinfectant for about thirty minutes before washing them to remove any bacteria or germs.
- Hang or lay the scrubs on a hanger or hook to dry out if possible.
- Store your scrubs in a designated space away from other clothes.
- Always wash your scrubs in cold water with a detergent. This will prevent shrinkage and fading.
- If you are working in an environment that needs more than just cold water or soap, you should use bleach.
- Please do not wear the same scrub for more than two days without washing them first.
Keep Your Scrubs Fresh With Two Scrubbings:
When caring for your scrubs, one of the essential tips to keep in mind is how they should always go through two wash cycles before use. However, before doing so, remember to turn your scrubs inside out to ensure that the quality of the material remains intact and avoid pilling.
And don’t forget to set the load size too large or extra-large, even if you have a small load. After which, put the scrubs on a regular or normal cycle with cold water and a regular detergent. Once the first wash cycle has been completed, remove the scrubs from the washing machine to thoroughly look them over for any visible stains or marks left on the surface of your scrubs.
If so, treat the stains again with stain remover and repeat the first wash cycle once over. After removing all stains from your medical/nursing scrubs, you can then go onto the second most important washing step.
Note; all stains must be removed before this next step, as this step involves the use of hot water. Therefore, if there are any stains still on the scrubs before this step, it will only become more challenging to remove them later.
The second washing is dedicated to disinfecting your scrubs with bleach. To complete the second part of the washing process, pour 3/4 cup bleach into the built-in dispenser of the machine and proceed as follows:
If your washer does not have this capability, fill the barrel with hot water after adding the clothing and then add 3/4 cup color-safe bleach to the water just before the cycle begins.
After completing these instructions, dry your scrubs on the maximum heat setting for at least 30 minutes, as this will almost certainly eliminate any more microorganisms.
How To Get Rid of Stains on Your Nursing Scrubs
When removing any stains from your medical/nursing scrubs, such as blood, or other bodily fluids, it’s essential that you pre-treat these stains before moving on to the washing scrubs. Otherwise, the stains might set into your scrubs permanently.
It is almost inevitable that your scrubs will gain a few new stains each time they are worn when working as a medical professional. The key to keeping your scrubs stain-free is knowing how to pre-treat different types of stains before you begin washing them. This section will discuss the most common medical stains and how to combat them best.
To remove blood from scrubs, begin by soaking them in cold water; avoid using hot water at all costs. Following that, take a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and dab a tiny bit immediately on the bloodstain.
This should be followed by a steady stream of cold water mixed with a small amount of heavy-duty laundry detergent, like Tide or Persil, that contains the enzymes necessary to break up the stain. Allow around five to ten minutes for the detergent to work, then wash as usual.
Vomit, urine, and feces:
These types of stains are often protein stains. As such, they should be treated with cold water mixed with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Begin by removing any solid matter from your scrubs with a tongue depressor or edge of a disposable spoon or knife. You never want to rub these substances using a cloth, as this will only further push the stain deeper into the fabric.
Instead, following the removal of any solid matter, run a steady stream of cold water over the stain and treat it using heavy-duty detergent before washing. Sprinkle baking soda over the stain, then spray the stain with a hydrogen peroxide/water solution, about 1:4 ratio. Followed by a rinse with cold water and wash as usual.
A lot of the time, stains caused by ointments are often oil-based stains. Thus, they require lukewarm warm water to treat and remove the stains. As with the stains caused by bodily fluids, remove any solids matter from the scrubs using a tongue depressor and/or edge of a disposable spoon or knife with no rubbing.
Then apply a bit of heavy-duty detergent or liquid dish soap to the stain, and let it soak for 5-10 minutes. After which, wash them in hot water to altogether remove the stain.
Some medicines also have colors, which may occasionally get on your scrubs. Dab the fabric with oxygen bleach and cold water for 1-8 hours to get the stain out. Then wash it normally.
To eliminate stains caused by iodine. It is recommended that you pre-treat the stain with liquid dish soap, white vinegar, and warm water. First, soak the stain in warm water (approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes solid with an enzyme-based presoak product or heavy-duty detergent.
Then, as usual, wash the scrubs in warm water with extra detergent and oxygen-based bleach to remove any remaining discoloration. Repeat as necessary.
Wash your scrubs separately in cold water with half a cup of vinegar before wearing them for the first time to set the color and prevent fading. This procedure helps maintain the beauty and life of the scrubs, as cleaning can be a harsh process that can remove the colors from your scrubs if they are not pre-treated.
How to Wash & Disinfect Scrubs the Right Way
There are many different types of different scrubs. Understanding the material and construction of your scrub will make it easier for you to take care of them.
This article will touch upon how to clean and care for your scrubs, which can be very beneficial for nurses, doctors, and anyone else who wears them on the job. This article will help you understand the type of scrub you wear, how to maintain it, and how to wash and disinfect them properly.
How to Wash Cotton Medical Scrubs
There are various methods used for washing & disinfecting your medical scrubs. However, depending on your scrubs’ make and material of your scrubs will determine which form of washing best suits your scrubs. To better understand the different practices for washing your nursing/medical scrubs, Read more on the specifics for how to best wash your scrubs below.
Wash in Cold Water:
- When you have scrubs made from 100% cotton, it is best to wash them using cold water and heavy-duty detergent (such as Tide). Also, always turn your cotton scrubs inside out before washing to protect them from further wear and fading due to abrasion with other fabrics.
- Add about a ½ cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle to remove access odors and soften fabrics.
- Lastly, after the wash cycle has completed, put your cotton scrubs to dry using your dryer’s lowest tumble dry setting or even line dry. This will help to prevent excessive shrinking and further fading.
How to Wash Cotton/Polyester Blend Scrubs
- Scrubs made from a cotton and polyester blend (65% cotton & 35% polyester) should always be washed with warm water and a heavy-duty detergent. Additionally, your scrubs should always be turned inside out before washing to protect them from further wear and fading due to abrasion with other fabrics.
- When washing scrubs made from a cotton and polyester blend, it’s important to note that you should always avoid using any hot water. Hot water can set many stains and decrease the durability of the scrubs materials altogether.
- Lastly, once the warm water wash cycle has completed, put your cotton/polyester blend scrubs to dry on a regular heat dryer cycle or line dried.
How to Disinfect Medical Scrubs
Due to the nature of the medical industry and medical care, your scrubs are likely to be exposed to an increasingly high level of contaminants, bacterial and viral infections, which will need to be disinfected.
While it is unlikely that these contaminants could cause you or other household members who might be handling these clothes any harm, it remains a good idea to wash solid scrubs separately. In fact, following regular laundry steps as laid out by this article, adding a disinfectant and machine drying any contaminant or virus won’t stand a chance.
- Wear Disposable Gloves: when handling solid scrubs after a hard day’s work, it’s always good to throw on a pair of disposable gloves and always carry laundry items away from the face.
- Use Chlorine Bleach for White Cotton Scrubs: For disinfecting cotton scrubs, be sure to add chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) to the wash cycle. To ensure safe and proper use of the chemical when disinfecting your scrubs, pour the chlorine bleach into the washer’s bleach dispenser or dilute it with water before adding it to the load.
- Pine Oil Disinfectant for Non-Cotton Scrubs: when dealing with other types of fabrics and colored scrubs outside your typical cotton blend, refer to pine oil disinfectant. When mixed with hot or warm water, pine oil can be a very effective disinfectant solution when cleaning your scrubs. Some brand names that can be used are Pine-Sol, Spic and Span Pine, And Lysol Pine Action. It’s important to note that this type of disinfectant should be added at the beginning of the wash cycle. Additionally, to be 100% effective for removing contaminants from your scrubs, use products containing 80 percent pine oil.
Cleaning your nursing/medical scrubs is an important task to consider for any healthcare professional. That’s why it’s essential for you to thoroughly understand the best practices for taking care of your scrubs. Because when you take the time to do it right, you can help make sure you stay looking professional and ready to take on your next shift, all the while keeping yourself and those around you out of harm’s way.