Medical scrubs are a must-have for anyone working in a medical facility. Scrubs protect against body fluids and chemical splashes. They also make you look professional and approachable, which is crucial for patient satisfaction and retention. While the best scrubs for women and men are typically made from highly durable materials, these garments won’t last forever. Most medical scrubs need to be replaced every six to twelve months to ensure they still provide the same protection level. However, in some cases, they may need to be replaced earlier. Learn the eight signs that it’s time to replace your scrubs.
1. Frays or Tears
The areas of your scrubs that are most prone to abrasion damage are under the arms, the pockets, the crotch point and the in-seam. These areas experience the most friction, which wears down and separates the fabric fibers over time, leading to frays or tears. While you can patch frayed areas for reinforcement, too many obvious repairs can appear untidy, impacting patient perception and confidence. If you have repaired the same area more than once, or you have more than a couple of small patches on your scrubs, it’s time to replace them.
2. Puncture Holes
Surgical tools like scalpels, syringes, scissors and stationery items, such as ballpoint pens, can puncture holes in the scrub fabric. Holes in your scrubs reduce their efficacy and fluid protection, leaving you vulnerable to contamination and potentially ruining your undergarments. Repairing minor holes is simple and can stop the puncture from growing to prolong the life of your scrubs. However, you must replace your scrubs if there are numerous holes or punctures in areas like the pockets that may lead to lost medical tools.
3. Loose or Ripped Seams
Seams on high-quality medical garments are typically double-stitched for reinforcement. Over time, the threads can loosen or snag, leading to rips along the seam. Open seams expose you to body fluids, hazardous chemicals and waste products. Repairing seams adequately enough to maintain a high level of protection is challenging and often requires specialized equipment, like an overlocker, to finish the seam. You can take your scrubs to a tailor or dry cleaner to fix any loose or ripped seams, but the fabric on either side of the seam weakens after several repairs. If you have seams that frequently need repair, replacing your scrubs is a more cost-effective option.
4. Heavy Staining
Staining is inevitable in the medical field due to frequent exposure to body fluids and medical waste. You should immediately change out of heavily soiled scrubs and pre-treat any stains with a color-safe stain remover before washing. It is crucial to wash your scrubs correctly to effectively remove stains and prolong the life of your garments. Frequent washing wears down the fabric fibers. Always turn your scrubs inside out before washing to prevent fading. Wash your scrubs in cold water (hot water can set in some medical stains) and add a disinfecting agent, like white vinegar, to the wash cycle. There are stains that even heavy-duty bleach cannot remove in some cases. Stained scrubs look unprofessional and could impact your patients’ perception of your facility. If your medical apparel is heavily stained, replace your scrubs with fresh, clean pieces.
5. Weak Elastic
Medical apparel comes with various adjustable features and fasteners. Elastic is the most common fastener used on scrub pants, especially styles like cargo or jogger scrubs. Elastic waistbands and cuffs offer a snug yet flexible fit, providing better comfort throughout your shift.
However, repeated stretching and overstretching weakens the elastic fibers and may cause your scrub pants to sag. To avoid constantly adjusting your scrub during your shift and maintain a sleek and professional look, replace your medical garments when the elastic weakens.
6. Poor Fit
A comfortable fit is critical for medical scrubs. You need to have a wide range of movement to perform the multitude of daily tasks being a medical professional requires. Certain scrub styles can be restrictive, especially if you aren’t wearing the correct size. If your scrubs feel tight in key areas, such as the underarms, across the chest or over the hips, it’s time to replace your medical apparel with a pair that fits your body. To accurately find your scrubs size, measure your chest, natural waistline and the fullest part of your hips. Compare your measurements against a scrub size chart to find the right size for your body. Scrubs come in separates so you can mix and match sizes if one area of your body is larger than another. If your measurements sit on the upper end of the size range on the chart, choose the next size up.
7. Change in Department or Company Rebranding
If you find yourself working in a new department, you may need to replace your current scrubs to fit the environment. You might find your current uniform doesn’t match the dress code color in your new position. For example, nurses working in pediatrics typically wear a different scrub color than those in a cardiac wing. Talk to your new supervisor prior to your transition to ensure you understand what medical apparel is required for the position so you can replace your uniform as necessary.
If your healthcare company, hospital or clinic undergoes rebranding, you’ll need new medical apparel to match the brand’s new color palette. Scrubs can be embroidered or color-matched to create a uniform representing your company. Medical uniforms exude professionalism and help express confidence to your patients, improving patient retention rates.
8. Seasonal Changes
Medical facilities are often temperature-controlled to manage bacterial growth and combat condensation and mold growth issues. This can make it uncomfortable to wear lightweight, short-sleeve scrubs during the colder months. In the winter, a long-sleeve underscrub top or a jacket can help you stay comfortable at work while adhering to the facility’s dress code.
Project Professionalism in a New Set of Medical Scrubs
When it’s time to replace your scrubs, you need to select high-quality, comfortable scrubs that make you feel good. Scrubs come in a huge range of exciting styles, colors and prints, allowing you to express your personal style.
Be proactive about replacing your scrubs, so you can exude professionalism, whether in a veterinary clinic on the hospital ward, dental office or another medical facility. Watch for signs of wear and tear, and always keep an extra pair of scrubs on hand to change into in case your uniform becomes soiled, torn or wet.