How Often Do You Clean Your Lab Coat?

Always a perplexing topic.  One in which honesty is not the best policy.  Or so it seems.  Still . . . a topic that arises frequently at our Medelita offices, usually prompted by customers sending back lab coats for embroidery or minor repairs. Having worked in Emergency Medicine for 8+ years, I am quite familiar with the irony of wearing a 'bright white' lab coat amidst dirty everything.  Originally thought of as 'protection', an embroidered lab coat seems most representative of accomplishment and prestige.  A walking diploma, of sorts.  And also the physician/clinician alternative to the fanny pack.  How many things can you truly stuff in your lab coat pockets?  It's amazing.  And none of those items, I would consider, to be relatively clean. So the UPS driver pulls up and out pops a lab coat that hasn't been cleaned in at least 2 months.  Lucky us.  You all say "eeeewwwwww" but you know it  . . . you can all relate to a time of procrastination and borderline forgetfulness, in terms of prioritizing a clean white lab coat.  You've worked a 12+ hour shift, and the last thing you want to deal with is the laundry or the dry cleaner.  It's just reality. Anyone care to expand on this topic?  How often do you think it's appropriate to wash your lab coat?  Are you motivated to launder your lab coat for a) appearance sake, or b) minimizing risk and possible patient exposure?  How could hospitals and clinics make it easier to ensure that lab coats were cleaned regularly?

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