Taking Proper Care of Your Scrubs Even though we wear scrubs more than any other item of clothing, we usually only have a few pairs. It’s very important to look after scrubs, as incorrect care can make them look grubby and worn very quickly, which of course gives off the wrong image to patients and their families. So, what are the best ways to keep your scrubs looking as good as new, all the time? 1. Quality over Quantity It’s worth investing in good quality scrubs. Not all things are made equal, and that’s as true for medical uniforms as it is for anything else. If you look on uniform websites, you will doubtless see scrub sets advertised as cheaply as $5.99 (maybe even lower), but this is the definition of false economy. Your scrubs are going to get knocked about and stained - the only thing that cheap material will achieve is a ruined pair of scrubs in a very short time frame. It’s far better to buy the best quality that you can afford, so you stand a chance of still owing them in a year’s time! Related: Unconventional Ways to Make Yourself Study 2.
Read the Care Label!
This is so important, and something that 90% of us are guilty of not doing. The manufacturer sets out the care instructions for a very good reason - they have tested the garments to destruction, and those washing instructions are the ones that they have come up with to keep your scrubs looking good for as long as possible. If you are at all unsure (or if you have already cut the care label out of them!), always wash them on the delicate cycle. If you are concerned
that washing at low temperatures might not kill any bugs or bacteria on your uniform, you can add a half cup of white vinegar to your wash - as vinegar is a natural disinfectant, this will boost the hygiene of your wash and also help to set the colors in your scrubs.
If (or rather, when!) you pick up a stain, it’s far better to pre-treat it than throw your scrubs in the machine and hope that it’s going to come out (particularly if you’re washing at a low temperature). These are some of the more common stains and how to pre-treat them. Blood:
Wet the strain with some cold water (if you can, rinse your
scrubs in cold water while they’re still wet). Use some laundry soap to loosen the stain. Pre-soak the garment in some proprietary pre-wash stain remover, then rinse and dab with diluted ammonia (read the instructions!) before finally laundering your scrubs. Vomit:
Turn fabric inside out and run under cold water. Pre-treat the
fabric with a store bought stain remover, as per their instructions and then launder using oxygen bleach. Sweat: Rub vinegar and coarse ground salt (table salt will work if it’s all you have available). Leave outside to dry, then wash scrubs using shampoo (this is important - shampoo removes biological oils). Launder according to the normal care instructions. Ink: Soak your scrubs overnight in milk, then wash as normal. If you don’t have milk, try spraying the fabric with some alcohol based hairspray, then wiping the excess away before laundering. Related: 10 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick in the Hospital
Ointment/Other Oils: Scrape off as much as you possibly can, then rub some talc or cornstarch into the stain, covering it as completely as possible. Leave for as long as it takes to absorb all of the oil, then brush off. Launder as normal. If you are going to tumble dry your clothes, it’s very important that you check that the stain has been removed completely before you put them in there - heat will set almost any stain, and once that has happened it’s not going anywhere. There are some off the shelf stain removers that claim to be able to do this, but particularly with blood and ink, it’s unlikely to work entirely. 4.
Load Your Machine Properly!
Read the instructions that your manufacturer sent you with your machine on how much you can put in there. If you constantly stuff as much as possible into the drum, you a) won’t do your machine any favors, and b) will massively reduce your washer's ability to remove stains. This is logical when you think about it - washing machines work by agitating fabrics at a much higher rate than we can, and if the fabrics inside have no room to move, all you're doing is getting them wet and maybe making them smell nice. There’s also some evidence that overloading your washing machine can lead to contact dermatitis, as they’re unable to rinse all of the detergents out of your clothes fully. 5.
Line Dry Your Scrubs
You might be rolling your eyes at this one because we’re all short on time and sometimes your drier is the only way you’re going to get your uniform clean in time. However, there’s little doubt that high
temperatures don’t do any fabrics many favors, and as previously mentioned, they also set any stains that you may have missed following your wash. If you do have to do it, try to use the lowest temperature setting possible. Once you have washed your uniform a couple of times, you’ll reduce the likelihood of shrinking so you should be able to increase the heat setting a little. However, if you’ve used any of the stain treatments above, try to wear an alternative set and allow the stained pair to dry naturally.
In summary, it’s hard to imagine a working medical environment where you are not going to pick up stains, sometimes pretty heavy duty ones. It’s best always to have a few pairs of scrubs at your disposal, so you’re not in the position of having to remove stains, wash and dry your uniform all in one night. Invest as much as you are able to afford into your uniform - poor quality fabrics will look terrible very quickly, and you’ll usually find that the stitching on ultra-cheap scrubs comes apart after just a couple of wears. Low quality scrubs can be replaced a few times a year, so it’s a false economy to but those $5.99 sets - you’ll be paying that out every few months! Try to keep a small arsenal of store bought stain removers in your cleaning cupboard - although it’s usually better for the fabric and your skin to use a natural solution, sometimes if you’re in a pinch using a proprietary cleaner is the only thing that you have time for (and honestly, sometimes it’s the only thing that will work). Ask your colleagues if they
have any favorite products - you might find that some of them have miracle go-to solutions that they’ve been using for years! Finally, remember that high temperatures are the enemy - the more fabric is exposed to heat, the more broken down the fibers will become, and your scrubs will start to pill and look aged. You’ll set any residual stains, and once they’re dried in there is very little that you can do to move them. Although there are fabric cleaners out there that claim to remove dried in stains, it’s rare to find one that gets rid of them with no trace. Related: List of nursing organizations Please follow us on Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest and Twitter
Published on Dec 1, 2016
Even though we wear scrubs more than any other item of clothing, we usually only have a few pairs. It’s very important to look after scrubs...