As healthcare workers, our scrubs go through a lot. Between blood, sweat, tears, and other bodily fluids… our scrubs have seen it all! Scrubs are a cost associated with the job, but you shouldn’t worry about replacing them whenever you get something on them. And you definitely shouldn’t let it stop you from performing your job to the best of your abilities.
Use these tips to care for your scrubs after a long shift and extend their lifespan.
Keep your scrubs separate from your everyday clothes
To avoid spreading germs, keep a separate laundry basket for your scrubs. It’s recommended (but not always feasible) to wash your scrubs immediately after work. Keeping a separate laundry bin is the next best thing if this isn't possible. Washing your scrubs separately is also good for the fabric and will prevent getting caught on any zippers or velcro that your other, everyday clothes might have. If you don’t have enough for a full load of laundry and doing separate loads isn’t an option, turn your scrubs inside out to prevent this from happening.
Pretreat stains before washing
It’s important to pretreat stains before washing your scrubs to prevent the stains from setting.
For oil-based stains, start by blotting out the stain, then apply dish soap to the spot. For stubborn stains, rub baking soda into the stain. Let it soak for 5-10 and then wash it in hot water as you normally would.
For stains caused by bodily fluids, sprinkle baking soda on the stain and spray it with hydrogen peroxide and cold water. Rinse it thoroughly with cold water, then wash it normally.
For blood stains, apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to the stain and then rinse it with cold water. This process may need to be repeated a few times before washing as normal.
Wash scrubs in warm water and white vinegar
Washing your scrubs in warm water helps clean fabrics without color fading or shrinking. Adding white vinegar to your load of laundry helps to keep the fabrics soft and keeps the colors vibrant.
Don’t use bleach regularly
It can be tempting to use bleach, especially when you’ve had a pretty messy day. We’ve always been taught that it helps kill all bacteria, so this would be the natural thing to do, right? However, when used too often, it can turn buttons yellow, and fade logos. If you must use bleach, opt for oxygen-based bleach. And avoid adding bleach directly to your scrubs. It can cause holes or even leave stains behind.
Inspect stains before drying
If you’ve properly pretreated stains, you should be safe, but sometimes those stains are persistent and need a 2nd (and sometimes a 3rd) wash. Inspect your scrubs before tossing them in the dryer. Once dried, the stains could be locked in for good. If shrinkage is a concern, line-dry your scrubs.
Your scrubs go through a lot during a long shift. Caring for them properly can increase the wear you get out of them. Cleaning them is an important task. Take the time to do it right, and you won’t have to worry about replacing them as often.