Nursing scrubs are worn every day and absolutely have to be washed every day - for probably more reasons than I would be able to list. Anytime an article of clothing is worn and washed on a day-to-day basis, it is going to fade, look worn out, and/or start to "pill." Your 'medical uniform' is not like the rest of your wardrobe. You probably own fewer scrub sets than civilian clothing, but you probably wear that uniform more often than any other article of clothing, which causes more 'wear and tear' more quickly than most people's work clothes.
Here are just a few tips on how to get your medical attire to stay looking newer, longer:
1. Purchase high quality medical apparel Anytime you purchase any article of clothing, not just your medical scrubs, if the fabric is not high quality, it will pill, wrinkle, stain, and wear faster than if you had purchased a better quality product. Stay away from those uniforms that are advertised for $4.99. They may as well be disposable scrubs. You can wear them once or twice before having to replace them, and therefore you end up spending more on the cheap outfits than you would have on designer scrubs.
2. Separate your washables into categories and do not co-mingle those categories in the washer. Whites, darks (navy and black can be washed together), reds (you can also wash pink with red), light colors that are not white and do not fit into any other category, and finally your other colors (green, turquoise, etc.)
3. Always wash your medical scrub items in cold water. Cold water will trap the dye in the fabric so that it stays in the fabric. Warm water will promote that dye to leak out, which will automatically fade the fabric. You do not want your black uniform to slightly resemble grey after just one wash.
4. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the water before you add any detergent or clothing. Vinegar prevents "bleeding" of fabrics. It is also a great disinfectant, so you kill two birds with one stone.
5. Wash your nurses uniforms on the delicate cycle. Your medical apparel will last about ten times longer if you always wash it on the delicate cycle. Feel free to wash all of your clothes on the delicate cycle.
6. Use a mild liquid detergent (Gain always seems to work well.) Let the water get sudsy before you put your washables in. Feel free to throw in a little bleach with the whites only.
7. Do not add liquid fabric softener. Just don't do it. Dryer sheets are fine.
8. And finally, if you have time to line dry or flat dry your uniforms, they will last longer. But, if you live in the real world with the rest of us, throw those bad boys in the dryer on the lowest setting possible. Your scrubs shouldn't shrink after they have been washed once or twice, so always start with a lower heat setting and you can increase it the next time you wash and dry your scrub sets. Should you get stains on your hospital attire (or should I say 'when you get stains on your hospital attire') will be discussed in another article, where we will discuss the fabric type, color, and the stain type and severity.
Follow the washing tips above and your scrubs will look better for longer.