Sh$% happens . . . and sometimes it happens on your scrubs. Too many times nurses end up getting coughed on, puked on, bled on . . . and worse (try not to wonder what that other dark-colored stain is). And the kind of stains that nurses get on their scrubs are some of the toughest to remove. Even if you give your scrubs a good wash, these stubborn stains can simply refuse to go quietly.
There is nothing worse than getting a tough stain on your favorite, most flattering scrubs, like these here. Not only do you not want to be walking around in grubby-looking scrubs (even if they’ve been freshly washed), the things staining a nurse’s uniform can carry pathogens. So that means you’ve got to disinfect them too.
Do you just give up and buy a few more sets of fresh scrubs? Heck no – there are plenty of stain-fighting and disinfecting secrets that can keep your scrubs looking clean and cootie-free. We’ve collected the best stain-removal secrets for scrubs and we’re going to share them with you. We’ve separated them by type since each culprit has its own plan of attack. Plus, after you work on those stains, we’ve got a quick guide on how to disinfect your scrubs.
Blood is a big baddie when it comes to stains. Not only does it seep deep into fabrics and refuse to come out – it harbors all those fun bloodborne pathogens like Hepatitis B & C, MRSA, and HIV. It tries to resist soaking, scrubbing, and screaming at it all to leave you with a nice dark shadow on your scrubs that mocks your cleaning efforts.
Not if you try these tricks:
1. Wear gloves
You may not know whose blood that is, and if you’re going to be doing some scrubbing, it’s a good idea to protect your hands.
2. Soak #1
For those dried-on blood stains, soak your scrubs in distilled white vinegar first. When the stain isn’t visible, rinse it out.
3. Soak #2
If the bloodstain is fresh, soak your scrubs in cold water – not hot water which will cook the proteins and set the stain.
4. Soak #3
If the stain is still visible after the cold-water soaking, take about a quart of warm water and add a teaspoon of ammonia and half a teaspoon of laundry detergent. Soak your scrubs in this mix for 15 – 20 minutes.
5. Scrub it
Next, use a scrub brush or toothbrush and lightly scrub the stain. Blot the stain with paper towels or a rag from time to time.
6. Rinse & Launder
After you’ve finished all the steps above, rinse your scrubs out and wash them normally.
- Lemon juice works well on fresh bloodstains.
- For white scrubs you can use bleach or hydrogen peroxide – DON’T use these on colored scrubs or scrubs with prints.
Oh yeah, nothing better than getting sprayed with someone else’s vomit. Ok, sometimes it might be your own – no judgment here. But it’s not just the fact that it’s the contents of someone’s stomach – it’s the smell. So we’ve got to get that out of there along with the stains. Here’s how to get that puke off your scrubs:
Use a plastic knife to scrape off the excess puke
- Soak scrubs in warm water for 10 – 15 minutes
- Make a paste of baking soda and lemon juice and use a scrub brush or toothbrush to scrub the stain – Or use a pre-treatment spray.
- Wash normally (add a half cup of baking soda to the wash while it’s filling to reduce odors and soften the fabric)
Yep, Code Brown. If you’ve never had someone else’s poop on your scrubs count yourself blessed. Too often nurses find themselves dealing with smelly brown stains on their scrubs. Here’s how you can the war against #2 stains:
- Get that plastic knife you used against puke and scrape off the, um, excess.
- Rinse fabric clean with cold water
- Pretreat by soaking scrubs in warm water with a mix of detergent and baking soda
- Use a scrub brush or toothbrush if necessary
- Rinse, then wash with bleach for whites – 80% pine oil for colors
I know a secret weapon was mentioned – and we’ve got that for you, but first, here’s a couple of bonus stain removal tips.
What nurse doesn’t jumpstart their day with a cuppa joe? But, sometimes that joe finds its way onto scrubs. Here’s how to get it out:
- Stretch the stained fabric over a coffee cup or bowl
- Pour boiling hot water over the stain (from about 12 inches above)
- Spray with a pre-treatment
- Wash normally
Sometimes it’s not #2, just #1 that gets on your scrubs (only marginally less bad). Here’s what you do for pee stains:
- Soak in warm water with a mixture of detergent and baking soda for 15 – 30 minutes
- Wash normally
- If you’re on the go, make a mixture of light baking soda and warm water (mostly water) and dab the stain with it. It’ll pretreat it and help with any smell. You can use this for a lot of stains.
Stains are often a no-no for most nursing uniform policies – want to see what are the most common nurse uniform policies? Look here.
The Secret Weapon
Ok, we’re adding this because it’s so useful, especially for a nurse on shift. This isn’t a shameless plug, just a great product that gets rave reviews. It fits in your pocket, is all-natural, and will remove just about any stain.
Stain Stick by MyGreenFills.com Non-toxic natural ingredients. Safe and effective. Other options, You can also try a Tide To Go stick. Don’t let the Big 3 stains mess up your favorite pair of scrubs ever again. Use these tips and you’ll have the freshest scrubs around.
So you’ve got that coffee stain and another suspicious dark stain out – now it’s time to disinfect your scrubs.
The Easy Way To Disinfect Your Scrubs
You don’t need some scientific study measuring pathogens on scrubs to tell you how dirty they are after a shift. Even if you don’t end up wearing someone else’s bodily fluids by the end of a shift, a hospital environment has a lot of bugs and cooties floating around that can easily find their way onto your scrubs.
The study referenced above gave 10 nurses sterilized uniforms to wear on shift. After 48 hours, they did four different tests to see what all the scrubs had picked up.
What they found was – well, both illuminating and gross. After 48 hours, the scrubs of 4 of the day shift nurses and 3-night shift nurses tested positive for MRSA. They also found Bacillus sp. Staphylococcus aureus, Micrococcus roseus. Micrococcus luteus and Staphylococcus epidermidis
Besides all these bugs, now there’s the threat of COVID-19 to contend with. Not only are you wearing all those bugs at work – you’re taking them home with you.
There are plenty of great scrubs for men and women – and there are even antimicrobial scrubs that are considered the next generation of healthcare uniforms. But whatever scrubs you buy, you’re still going to have to wash and disinfect them. If you’re doing your own laundry, you want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to disinfect your scrubs.
NurseHive has put together a simple guide to help you make sure all those bugs on your scrubs get dead and gone.
What Are Your Scrubs Made From?
The first and most important thing to consider is the material your scrubs are made from. Nursing scrubs are usually either 100% cotton or a cotton/synthetic blend.
- 100% cotton scrubs are the most comfortable, as cotton is soft and breathable. But make sure to always wash them in cold water only and dry them on the lowest dryer setting.
- Blended fabrics are commonly 65% cotton, 35% polyester. You can wash these scrubs in warm or hot water and dry them in a regular dryer setting.
Also, the fabric your scrubs are made of will affect the fit. Learn the guide to getting the best scrub fit, check out these tips.
Do I Just Use Bleach On All My Scrubs?
Short answer: NO. Gone are the days of plain old white scrubs. Now you’ve got every color and tons of patterns to choose from. But using regular bleach on colored fabrics will fade the colors and can damage the material.
- For white scrubs, it’s OK to add bleach to disinfect them.
- For colored scrubs or prints, you can use 80% pine oil to disinfect them. Color-safe bleach DOES NOT disinfect your scrubs because it uses hydrogen peroxide which doesn’t kill the bugs.
What About Fabric Softener?
Like soft scrubs? Sure you can use a fabric softener, but why expose yourself to the chemicals?
Instead, add ¾ cups of distilled white vinegar to the final rinse cycle – voila! Soft scrubs minus the harsh chemicals.
The Easy Way To Wash And Disinfect Your Scrubs
Alright, here it is. Eight easy steps to washing and disinfecting your scrubs so that they come out clean, soft, and most importantly, bug-free.
White 100% Cotton Scrubs
1. Keep your scrubs separate from your everyday clothes. No need to contaminate them as well. A good idea is to use laundry bags or separate clothes hamper for your scrubs. You can even use trash bags, which are great because you can just toss them when you’re done.
2. Check for stains. If you have stains you’ll want to presoak them.
3. Turn the scrubs inside-out to protect the fabric from wear.
4. Add chlorine bleach by putting it in your washer’s bleach dispenser or adding a diluted bleach mix directly into the drum.
5. Add vinegar to the rinse cycle.
6. Dry on the lowest heat setting.
7. When your scrubs are dry, you can place them in dry cleaning bags or trash bags to limit exposure.
8. When you’re done, you can disinfect your washer by running a cycle with bleach without any clothes.
Colored Scrubs, Blended Fabrics
Do steps 1 – 3 exactly the same as above. Skip the bleach and use 80% pine oil instead.
4. Add 80% pine oil at the beginning of the wash cycle.
5. Wash with warm or hot water.
6. Add vinegar to the rinse cycle.
7. Dry on a regular heat setting.
8. Disinfect your washer using the same step 8 above.
NOTE: you can also use phenolic disinfectants on colored scrubs.
So there you have it – everything you need to get out pesky stains, wash and disinfect your scrubs. Just remember to wash your scrubs often – as in more often than your everyday clothes. Also, don’t forget to address any stains as soon as possible so they don’t set in.
The laundry battle is never-ending – especially for nurses – but it’s a battle you can win by just using these quick tips.