As hospitals continue to be inundated with COVID-19 patients, clinicians are still risking infection and transmission of the virus as they go to and from work. While vaccination, thorough hand washing, and the use of personal protective equipment (i.e. gowns, masks and gloves) are extremely effective methods of preventing 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?
On April 20th, 2021, TheNerdyNurse.com, a popular nursing lifestyle blog, posted an informative article to their website about this exact topic. The article, entitled The Best Laundry Detergent: How To Disinfect Scrubs, 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 bag. If you wear your scrubs home, change out of them as soon as you get home, placing the dirty scrubs in their own laundry basket. Some nurses change out of their dirty scrubs in the garage before entering the home, throwing them in a separate laundry bag or basket.
2. When you buy a pair of brand-new scrubs, it is important to pre-treat them with a mixture of cold water and vinegar before wearing them. Not only will the vinegar kill any germs on the fabric, it will extend the life of your scrubs as well.
3. Wash dirty scrubs with cold water and detergent on a normal setting first. You will want to make sure your scrubs are stain and dirt free before proceeding to the next step.
4. Wash your scrubs again. This time, use hot water and a color-safe bleach. This step will kill all those germs!
5. After your scrubs have been washed for the second time, place them in the dryer and tumble dry them on the highest temperature setting for at least 30 minutes, which will rid the scrubs of pathogens. You can alternatively hang-dry them in the sunshine, which is a powerful disinfectant too!
6. Once your scrubs are dried, iron them. The high heat ensures that any remaining pathogens are killed.
7. Store your scrubs in a drawer or closet until they are ready to be worn again.
Furthermore, the blog post lists some suggested laundry disinfectants to use when you wash your scrubs; for example: vinegar, Clorox Laundry Sanitizer, and Purex Color-Safe Bleach.
Whether you’re a respiratory therapist working in a COVID unit or a nurse that just wants to help keep themselves and their patients healthy through the ebb and flow of the pandemic, this article is a definite must-read. A big thanks to TheNerdyNurse.com for posting this much-needed information!
Premier Medical Staffing Solutions is extremely grateful to the brave men and women that continue to provide first-rate medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your bravery and compassion do not go unnoticed.