More than 60% of uniforms worn by nurses and doctors who work in hospitals tested positive for dangerous bacteria.
Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
The good news? There are more sustainable scrubs care practices available to you than the “burn after using” action plan you may have been considering ever since superbugs hit the medical scene in a big way.
Here's 7 ways to sanitize your scrubs and stay healthy:
1. Vinegar Wash
Oh, you just bought a pair of swanky new scrubs, did you? Fabulous. Now here’s a trick: Before shimmying into those bad boys, treat them to a solo wash with half a cup of vinegar. This will help set the material’s color and slow fading, which is subject to hyper mode if you’re disinfecting your scrubs regularly.
2. Seal It
If what that study indicated was indeed true, I don’t even want to think about what kinds of germs might be lurking on the seat of nurses’ cars or coats should someone dare to venture in their scrubs after a day at work. To avoid spreading your scrub germs, keep large sealable bags at work so that you can safely transport and store your scrubs until they can be cleaned.
3. Separate, separate, separate.
As much as we hate to add another load (literally) to your to-do list, the fact of the matter is that not all laundry is made equal. Since your scrubs will often require a more thorough washing than, say, your average Netflix-ing ensemble (aka sweats), it’s best to keep them from mixing and mingling with your other laundry items.
4. Second time’s the charm.
If you really want to stay on the safe side, or if you have a particularly soiled batch of scrubs, then a twofold laundering process is the way to go.
Here are the simple steps you can follow to get ’em done:
- Check for any stains. You’ll want to treat them prior to wash #1, since the hot water in wash #2 will set the stains.
- Turn your scrubs inside out. This will keep the separate items from rubbing together and forming clumps in the wash.
- Toss your scrubs into the wash. Select “regular cycle” along with cold water, adding the proper amount of detergent to the load. Even if the load is small, it’s best to set the capacity to “large” or “extra-large.” This way, your scrubs will have the room they need to really move and groove when things start to get wild.
- The second wash is intended to fully disinfect the scrubs. This time around, skip the detergent and add ¾ cup of color-safe bleach. Again, select “regular” or “normal” cycle, only now you’ll want to run the load with hot water.
- Dry your scrubs using the highest heating heat setting for a third go at eliminating any stubborn bacteria.
5. Make it hot.
If you have the time, run a hot iron over your newly laundered scrubs. Not only will this have you looking “fresh” on the job, but it’s yet another layer of sanitization, as the heat will help snuff out any bacteria that’s proven to be a stage 5 clinger.
6. Consider Your Options
If you don’t have a laundry service at work, consider the other laundering options that are available to you. Keep in mind that scrubs being worn in a hospital setting are going to come into contact with a lot more germs than scrubs that are worn in an office setting. Whether it’s taking the time and money to get your scrubs professionally cleaned or running the hot water, be sure to go the extra mile when it comes to making sure your scrubs are fresh and clean.
7. No Repeats
Don’t even think about trying to pull off wearing your scrubs twice in one wash. They don’t have to look dirty to be dirty. Trust me. Wash them after every wear! Now that I’ve shared my tips, what are some of your sanitizing strategies? Share them and more on our Facebook page!