How to Keep Your Scrubs Looking Their Best

How to Keep Your Scrubs Looking Their Best

For medical professionals, scrubs are the most important part of the daily uniform. In the interest of professionalism and patient care, the state of your scrubs should be a top priority. A work wardrobe represents a significant investment; therefore, proper scrubs care is of the utmost importance. Failure to properly launder and store scrubs can result in wear and tear as well as stains. This means a sloppy appearance – a consequence no nurse or technician should face in a professional environment.

There are a lot of important factors to consider when taking care of your scrubs. Read on to learn how to keep your scrubs clean and professional, from regular care to storage and stain removal.


Most scrubs and nurse uniforms are made of cotton blends. As a natural material, cotton can change sizes if washed improperly. It’s important to avoid this, because showing up to work in too-small clothing is both uncomfortable and unprofessional. Many scrubs come with a tag, which includes washing instructions. If not, the following guide can be used for most kinds of scrubs.

  • Choose the correct water temperature. For 100% cotton scrubs and nurse uniforms, use cold water to prevent shrinking. Many cotton blend scrubs are 65% cotton. These should be washed in warm water, as they’re less likely to shrink and warm water cleans better. Rayon-polyester blends can also be tricky to wash without shrinking. Use cold water. Never use hot water when washing your scrubs. As a medical professional, stains are a risk of the job. Hot water can cause these stains to set, making them impossible to remove. Stained scrubs look sloppy, and shouldn’t be worn to work.
  • Add vinegar. Vinegar enhances the color of your scrubs. It also prevents colors from running. For brightly colored scrubs such as Grey’s Anatomy scrubs, or those with fashion print such as Cherokee scrubs, this is especially important if you want to protect the rest of your laundry. Half a cup of white distilled vinegar is a good amount for a load of scrub laundry.
  • Turn your scrubs inside out before washing. The washing machine can cause colors and prints to fade, and faded clothes often look old and cheap – definitely not the look you want to have at work.
  • Hang them to dry. Running scrubs in a dryer on high heat can cause them to shrink. It’s best to line dry your scrubs. If this isn’t an option for you, use only the lowest heat setting on your dryer. Tumble dry is recommended.

Stain Removal

Regular washing is only part of the job. As a medical professional, chances are you work difficult, long hours. Doing a load of laundry isn’t always an option when you’re busy and exhausted. However, stains are part of the job description and must be dealt with to avoid a sloppy appearance. Whether the regular washing didn’t get rid of the stain or you don’t have time to do a full load of laundry, stain removal is an important skill for taking care of your scrubs. For all stain removal, it’s best to act as soon as possible after the stain occurs. Follow these tips for removing stains on your scrubs.

  • Blood, urine, and vomit. Scrape off any hard matter. Soak and agitate the area of the stain in cold water. Never use hot water, as it will make the stain impossible to remove. Include a color-safe bleach or liquid detergent in the cold water soak. Then wash the scrubs with cold water. If the stain doesn’t come out, soak again and repeat.
  • Liquid medicine. Flush the stain from the back with cold running water. Remove as much of the medicine as possible. Then, mix 2/3 cup of rubbing alcohol with one tablespoon of white vinegar. Pat the stain with another cloth dipped in this mixture. When the cloth stops lifting color, rinse the stain in cold water. Soak the garment in cold water with non-chlorine bleach and wash as normal.
  • Feces. Remove any hard matter before disinfecting the clothes. Soak in cold water with a color-safe bleach for at least 30 minute before laundering in warm water. Avoid hot water.


It’s important to disinfect your scrubs, not only for your appearance, but also for your and your patients’ safety. Hospitals host many contagious infections. Failing to disinfect your scrubs can lead to the spread of infection.

There are lots of options for products to disinfect your scrubs.

  • For both white and colored Cherokee scrubs, pine oil disinfectants and phenolic disinfectants can be used. Pine oil products like Pine Sol and Lysol Pine Action should be added to the beginning of the wash cycle. Any pine oil product must be at least 80% pine oil to properly disinfect. Phenolic disinfectants are widely available; Lysol is a common brand. They can be added to the washing machine or water you’re rising your scrubs in. Both of these disinfectants are effective in hot and warm water.
  • Liquid chlorine disinfectants are only to be used for white scrubs. Before adding chlorine bleach to the wash, it must be diluted. Never pour chlorine bleach directly only clothing. As most scrubs are made of cotton, rayon, and/or polyester, chlorine bleach is typically a safe disinfectant. It can’t be used on wool, spandex, or silk. Clorox is a commonly available brand of chlorine bleach. Any water temperature works for this kind of disinfectant.
  • Quaternary disinfectants are the most effective and can be used in any water temperature. However, they are typically less available in stores than other kinds of disinfectant. Pursue is one brand made specifically for laundry.
  • Don’t use household cleaners on your scrubs. While they work for disinfecting surfaces in your home, they won’t work on your laundry.

Proper scrub care can be daunting when you’re a busy medical professional. However, it is important to inspire confidence in your work for your bosses, coworkers, and patients. Cleaning and caring for your scrubs properly is easy when you know how to do so. Follow these strategies and you will show up to work looking clean, professional, and well put together.


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