Which is the most preferred fabric for nurses’ scrubs?
Short answer: It depends on your role and working environment.
Cotton, spandex, rayon and polyester have been popular fabrics in fashion for many years, especially for medical uniforms. But medical scrubs are not built the same way as regular clothes, as they often have higher quality standards to meet. Still, each of these fabrics has some common properties that play out as strengths and weaknesses in a healthcare setting.
Cotton is one of the most popular fabrics for hospital scrubs, and for good reason. With good breathability, reliable durability, and the ability to make scrubs comfortable, cotton is a perennial favorite for a variety of uniforms. However, cotton scrubs lack the elasticity of other fibers and fiber blends. It also shrinks dramatically if thrown into the dryer and is extremely prone to wrinkling.
This being said, blending cotton with other more durable fibers has become a popular choice for medical scrubs.
Polyester is a synthetic material that’s durable, wrinkle-resistant, moisture-wicking, and easy to care for.
Unlike cotton, polyester fabrics are not absorbent or prone to shrinking. The material itself is actually a type of plastic, so it’s good at resisting stains and dries quickly. Although it’s high-tech, polyester does not take heat well, and should only ever be ironed on an appropriately low setting.
If you’ve got a static buildup problem, check whether your clothes have a high polyester content. Polyester fabrics are the most likely culprits for attracting static electricity.
Another synthetic fiber used in nursing scrubs, A synthetic fiber that shares similarities with polyester, spandex neither shrinks nor loses color in the wash.
Spandex nursing scrubs are more resistant to perspiration and stains. When it’s blended with other fabrics, the addition of spandex fibers creates a nursing scrub that has stretch properties.
If you’re looking for a four-way stretch, look out for scrubs with 3-4% spandex or elastane content. This adds to the scrub suit’s overall flexibility and comfort. But be warned: spandex-heavy fabrics aren’t very breathable, so they’re not great for hot weather.
Rayon is a man-made fiber made from the regenerated cellulose fiber found in wood pulp, which can be made to mimic the properties of natural fibers like silk, wool, and cotton. A soft, lightweight, and absorbent fabric that has a lot in common with cotton.
It’s widely known as a cooling fabric as its thin fibres give it good breathability. Its quick-drying nature also makes it a popular choice in dry heat climates. That said, it doesn’t do as well in humid environments because it doesn’t wick moisture away as well as other natural fabrics like bamboo.
Rayon wrinkles easily and may also stretch or shrink when wet, so you have to be very careful when you wash it. Usually the safest bet with rayon is to hand wash and then line dry the garment.
For example, if you’re looking for:
The best scrub fabric for summer weather: Go for a cotton-polyester blend, which will give you breathability and durability with moisture-wicking properties. Make sure the mixture is lightweight enough for hot, dry temperatures.
The best scrub fabric for humid weather: Avoid scrubs with cotton, as cotton doesn’t wick away sweat or cool down as quickly. In short, it’ll leave you feeling uncomfortable and sweaty at work.
The best scrub fabric for cold weather: Choose heavyweight cotton or a cotton blend, as it’ll retain heat better.
The best scrubs for surgeries: Choose lightweight cotton that you can discard after one use.
The best scrubs for protection against fluids and chemicals: Pick a polyester or polyester blend, and make sure the percentage of polyester within that blend is high. The durable, synthetic surface is repellant against absorption and will resist stains and germs.