Ways to Wash and Disinfect Your Medical Scrubs

Doctor in scrubs washing hands
The medical industry is famously intense and grueling. It's tough to take care of the public's health needs, and nearly every task is incredibly important to helping people get healthy. But the medical industry is also famously tough on people's scrubs.

Medical scrubs are necessary for protecting the safety of nurses, physicians, laboratory technicians, and virtually anyone else who works in a medical clinic or facility. So you need to ensure that your scrubs are always in top condition.

What happens if they get dirty--or worse, become contaminated with all manner of filth? Here's a simple guide to washing your scrubs properly, and even disinfecting them.

Washing

Wash your scrubs in cold water. This may surprise some people. Many healthcare workers choose to wash scrubs in hot water, believing that this will always disinfect them. But the best way to wash your scrubs is to turn them inside-out, wash them in cold water, and dry them immediately. This washing method protects the fabric from fading and other signs of wear and tear. If your scrubs become damaged, your supervisors may insist that you change out of them, rendering a whole set of scrubs useless. Also, hot water can actually make stains set more easily.

Use a tumble dryer on the lowest setting for as long as it takes to get your scrubs dry. Don't leave them wet. Also, don't wear scrubs if they're slightly damp.

Wash your scrubs daily, and don't reuse them without putting them through a wash and dry cycle. You should have at least one extra set of scrubs in case of damage, or, more realistically, if you're getting ready for work and realize that you forgot to wash your uniform. Some people even prefer to keep a set of scrubs for each day of the work week.

Disinfecting

What about those cases when the unthinkable happens: your scrubs become dirty due to exposure to a contaminant, like patient fluids, laboratory chemicals, hard-to-remove food stains, or other messes? Depending on the source of the mess, it's important to wash your scrubs immediately to prevent the spread of viruses or bacteria.

First, start by adding white vinegar to the water during an ordinary wash cycle. This will soften the fabric and also neutralize many contaminants. If you have the advantage of white scrubs, add bleach for simple and thorough disinfection. If not, add pine oil to the wash cycle. Pine oil is naturally disinfecting. Wear gloves when handling contaminated scrubs.
Three nurses in medical scrubs

Daily Maintenance

There are some important ways that you can keep your scrubs safe. Avoid eating messy meals in your scrubs. Place a napkin on your lap, or change out of your scrubs before having meals--the latter is a strong recommendation for those who work directly with patients.

Use pocket guards if you have a habit of keeping pens and other messy tools in your scrubs pockets. Also, wear additional protection when necessary. If you're handling patient fluids, cleaning up after a patient, or otherwise risk contamination, wear gloves and other protective gear.

It's also important to know when it's time to just visit a scrub shop and replace a ruined set. If you're wondering, "Where can I find scrub shops near me?" the start with Raley Scrubs. We're one of the best scrub shops in Tulsa, OK, but we also ship free for online orders around the US. Visit our online store to find the best selection of scrubs anywhere.