With scrubs being the standard uniform for so many medical professionals, scrubs get a ton of use and are subject to a whole lot of wear and tear day after day. If you don’t want to have to continually buy new scrubs (and who does?), it’s important to take steps to maintain yours. By doing so, you’ll get as much longevity out of them as possible.
Follow our scrub maintenance tips below to get more life out of your scrubs and relax knowing that you’ll be able to wear your most favorite sets for quite some time. Additionally, proper scrub maintenance will keep you looking professional and is critical for keeping your scrubs free from germs and contaminants, helping to protect you and your patients.
Top Scrub Maintenance Tips
Every time you purchase new scrubs, before you wear them for the first time, wash them in a basin of cold water mixed with a half a cup of white distilled vinegar. This will not only disinfect the scrubs, but will help to set the color and prevent fading over time.
While you may resist taking the time to do this extra step, we strongly encourage you to just do it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how it helps preserve the appearance of your scrubs.
It’s common for nurses and other medical professionals to get stains on their scrubs. For the best chance of getting rid of stains without negatively affecting the color of your scrubs, use a color-safe stain remover before washing them.
For stains that are extra tough to clean, like blood, try the following tips:
Always wash your scrubs separately from other laundry. Scrubs require more thorough disinfecting than regular clothing, so it’s important to keep them in a separate basket and wash them separately. This will ensure your scrubs are properly cleaned and won’t ruin your other clothing.
To really disinfect scrubs properly, you’ll need to wash them twice. Before washing, treat any scrubs with noticeable stains with a color-safe stain remover, as mentioned above.
For the first wash cycle, turn all the scrubs inside out to prevent them from rubbing against each other and pilling. Set the washing machine to the “normal” or “regular” cycle and, even if the load is small, set the load size to “large” or “extra-large” so the scrubs have plenty of room to move around and get fully cleaned. Wash with cold water and regular detergent.
Once the first wash cycle is finished, check the scrubs to see if any stains are still visible. If so, treat them again with stain remover and repeat the first washing again. It’s important to make sure all stains have been removed before beginning the second wash cycle because it involves hot water, which will set stains more and make them more challenging to remove. Once all stains have been removed, proceed to the second wash cycle.
For the second wash cycle, add 3/4 cup of color-safe bleach to your washing machine’s built in bleach dispenser and wash the load on the normal setting with hot water. If your washer does not have a bleach dispenser, allow the washer’s barrel to fill completely with hot water after adding the laundry and then add the bleach to the water before the cycle starts.
Once the two wash cycles have been completed, place your scrubs in the dryer and set it on the highest heat setting for at least 30 minutes to kill more bacteria. While you can use dryer sheets to prevent static, liquid fabric softeners aren’t recommended.
After you remove your scrubs from the dryer, press them with a hot iron - even if they look like they don’t need to be ironed. Again, you’ll most likely feel like skipping this step, but it’s worth it because it keeps your scrubs looking neat - which keeps you looking professional - and helps to kill any remaining germs.
After pressing, place your scrubs in a clean, dry plastic bag or in an airtight container. Storing scrubs in this manner helps protect them from germs and contaminants before wearing them again.
As tempting and convenient as it is to get dressed in your scrubs at home before heading to work and to leave for the day without changing out of your scrubs, it’s highly recommended to reserve your scrubs for work alone. It’s best to change into them once you get to work and change out of them after your shift before you leave the building.
While this is understandably an extra hassle, it’s important to build time into the beginning and end of your days to do this because doing so will ensure your clean and disinfected scrubs remain that way when you begin work, without risking them becoming contaminated on your way there.
Changing out of scrubs before heading out for the day will prevent any contaminants that might have been picked up during your shift from being spread outside or brought into your home. Place them into a bag and bring them straight to the laundry room when you get home.
An extra bonus is that not wearing scrubs outside of work is another step that will help lengthen the life of your scrubs by eliminating unnecessary wear and tear.