Keeping your scrubs and lab coat clean are crucial to keeping a pristine appearance at work and keeping everyone in the office healthy. And while washing scrubs and spot-treating a lab coat might seem intimidating, following these easy steps will keep your medical attire in tip top shape.
Begin with high-quality pieces
The best way to ensure your scrubs and lab coat last as long as possible is to find those made with high-quality fabric. You want the fabric to be breathable and water-repellant, so you don't get too sweaty, but also fabric that is strong, so it won't tear or stretch out over time. Medelita makes coats and scrubs using an interior fabric that keeps you cool, dry and comfortable and an exterior fabric that repels fluid, soil, and stains. Most of the company's pieces also come with a one-year warranty and a risk-free, at-home trial of the clothing.
Pre-treat your clothes
Before you even wear your new gear, you should always pre-treat the items. Separate your scrubs into separate colors, and set your crisp white coat aside. Fill your sink or washer with cold or lukewarm water and add half a cup of vinegar into the water. The constant cleaning and disinfecting of medical clothes can be harsh and strip the items of their color, but the water and vinegar mixture will set the color, so they'll stay as vibrant as the day you bought them. Wash the white lab coat first to prevent any color bleed, then wash each set of scrubs separately.
Pay special attention to stains
When deciding how to clean medical scrubs and lab coats, it's important to remember that no stain is created equal, and each one requires a specific approach to effectively disinfect and remove it. The Spruce offers a helpful breakdown of how to handle each one the best way, but keep the following in mind: protein-based stains (blood, feces, vomit) should be treated with cold water and light clothing detergent; and oil-based stains (ointments and some liquid medications) should be treated with hot water and heavy-duty detergent. Remember to remove any solids with a knife, never rub a stain, and let it soak before washing it as you normally would.
Wash each item carefully — and correctly
Both your scrubs and lab coat will need special attention when it comes to laundry day.
To start, here's how to clean a lab coat:
When it comes to washing a lab coat, you should dry clean whenever possible. If you need to do an at-home wash, however, turn it inside out and wash it on a gentle cycle with cold water, then another gentle cycle with hot water to disinfect. Use a gentle detergent.
And here's how to clean scrubs:
Keep all similar colors together, because there's nothing more frustrating than finding your red scrubs bled onto your white scrubs.
First, turn each pair inside out. Run them through a gentle cycle with cold water and regular detergent. Ensure there are no remaining stains, then run them through the wash once more with hot water, and either color-safe bleach or vinegar to help disinfect the scrubs.
Hang or flat dry whenever possible
Hanging your scrubs and coat — or laying them on a flat surface — to dry is the best possible method. It will prevent shrinkage, wrinkles and permanent staining. It might take a little longer, than a conventional dryer, but it's worth it. A hot iron can be used to straighten out any remaining wrinkles, and will actually help to kill any remaining germs that made it through the washing process.
If you absolutely must put them in a dryer, inspect them first to ensure all stains have been removed, as the dryer will make them permanent. To help disinfect the clothing, use the highest heat setting for 30 minutes at the most.