As with any profession involving people, medical professionals run the risk of carrying bacteria, thus passing it on to patients and along to family and friends. Research proves that a main transport vehicle in carrying bacteria to another person is the apparel worn by a medical professional. According to recent studies, scrubs which are laundered at home contain high bacteria levels, as compared to scrubs laundered in a professional laundering facility or at the hospital. If you are responsible for cleaning your own scrubs, just follow these tips for properly disinfecting and cleaning your medical scrubs at home.
To begin, when you obtain new scrubs, wash them using cold water and a half cup of vinegar. This allows the color to set and will keep them from fading. The scrubs will go through a harsh disinfecting from here on out, and this simple step will help in extending the life of your scrubs.
Put your scrubs on and take them off at the hospital, right before and after your shift. Place your scrubs in a plastic freezer bag after the end of your shift. Seal the bag and keep the seal intact until you are set to wash your scrubs. Discard the bag after removing the clothing.
Once you are ready to wash your uniform, do so separately from your other laundry. To conserve energy and water, just wait until you have a few sets of scrubs ready to wash. However, it is important that your load not be too big. For proper cleaning, the scrubs need to have plenty of room to move around in the washer and dryer. Use stain remover on any visible stains. Your medical scrubs will require two washes. The first will loosen and remove dirt and debris. The second will disinfect the scrubs.
Before the first wash, turn the scrubs inside out to avoid pilling. Use regular detergent and cold water for the first wash with a normal setting. Once the first wash is complete, check to ensure all stains were removed. If not, repeat the steps for the first wash. Otherwise, stains will set in the second hot wash.
The second wash will need to use hot water and bleach. Allow the washer tub to fill before adding ¾ cup of bleach, or use the bleach dispenser if your washer has one.
Follow this step by putting scrubs in the dryer on the highest heat setting. Allow the scrubs to tumble dry for a minimum of 30 minutes to kill bacteria. Then iron your scrubs to kill even more bacteria. Place in a plastic dry-cleaning bag or roll scrubs to put in a clean, plastic freezer bag to keep them clean until your next shift. With this routine, your scrubs will be clean and disinfected, ready for the next shift.