As the front line of defense against the coronavirus pandemic, nurses and doctors are continuously placed in a scenario where they may be exposed to the COVID-19 virus. While routine hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers and personal protective equipment (i.e. gowns, masks and gloves) are extremely effective methods of preventing further contamination, there is one medical accessory that is being routinely overlooked: scrubs, the universal uniform of the healthcare professional.
Each day, medical professionals across the nation don a clean pair of scrubs as part of their preparations for the day’s work. While the cotton-blended scrub material is meant to be breathable and promote unencumbered movement, the truth is that the garment’s fibers can harbor pathogens that can easily be spread from patient to patient. Furthermore, if the medical professional opts to wear their scrubs to work and then returns home in them, the chances of spreading germs to friends and family members is dramatically increased.
What can be done to prevent this scenario from occurring? What steps can medical professionals take to help circumvent the spread of the coronavirus to other patients and their family?
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, NurseBuff.com, a popular nursing humor and lifestyle blog, posted an informative article to their website about this exact topic. The article, entitled How to Disinfect Scrubs: A Nurses’ Guide to Sanitizing Scrubs Properly, outlines an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process that can be implemented to ensure that scrub uniforms are kept germ- and stain-free.
How to Properly Disinfect Your Scrubs
1. Keep your dirty scrubs separate from your regular laundry. If you change into regular clothes before leaving work, place the dirty garments in a plastic freezer bag. If you wear your scrubs home, change out of them as soon as you get home, placing the dirty scrubs in their own hamper or laundry basket.
2. Wash your dirty scrubs with cold water and detergent on a normal setting first. You will want to make sure your scrubs are stain free before proceeding to the next step.
3. Wash your scrubs again. This time use hot water and a color safe bleach.
4. After your scrubs have been washed for the second time, place them in the dryer and tumble dry them on the highest setting for at least 30 minutes, killing pathogens.
5. Once your scrubs are dried, iron them. The high heat ensures that any remaining pathogens are killed.
6. Store your scrubs in a drawer or closet until they are ready to be worn again.
Furthermore, the blog post offered best practices to ensure that family members are protected from possible germ exposure in communal spaces (i.e. laundry hampers and washing machines). Whether you’re a medical professional that is working in a COVID-19 affected facility or a clinician that wants to help keep their patient population healthy during these tenuous times, this article is a definite must read. A big thanks to NurseBuff.com for posting this much needed information!
Premier Medical Staffing Solutions is extremely grateful to the brave men and women that are tirelessly working to provide first-rate medical care during this national crisis. Your bravery and compassion do not go unnoticed. Please know that the Premier team is here for you, 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, for whatever you may need.