In the medical field, every decision made has an impact. And it’s not just the decisions you make around the operating table; even the clothes you wear can influence your quality of care.
Scrubs, the universal uniform for medical staff, come in various material blends. The question is: how do you know which material is the best for you? Is cotton the way to go, or is something synthetic like polyester a better option?
Scrubs can come in:
Let’s take a closer look at each material and the environments for which they are best suited.
As a fabric, cotton is highly versatile and can be used for various garments. When it comes to scrubs, cotton is a popular choice because it is absorbent, soft, and breathable.
Cotton scrubs are perfect for working in warmer climates and for nurses or doctors that spend a lot of their day running around the hospital, as they will absorb sweat and keep the body cool.
Note that there are different types of cotton fabric, however, with varying levels of quality. For scrubs, you will want to look for durable cotton that will hold up well to repeated washings.
Polyester is another popular choice for scrubs; it’s durable and easy to care for. Scrubs made from polyester also tend to be wrinkle-resistant. They have a bit more structure than cotton, which is beneficial if you are looking for scrubs with a sharper appearance.
Polyester is also hydrophobic; it is not as absorbent as cotton, as the fiber repels water. The fabric’s hydrophobic qualities can make polyester a good choice for someone working with bodily fluids and contagious diseases, as polyester scrubs will be easier to clean and sanitize afterward.
However, this also means that polyester is less breathable than cotton and can make you feel warmer as sweat does not get absorbed by the fabric.
Rayon is a synthetic fiber made from cellulose. It’s lightweight and absorbent, making it ideal for summertime scrubs.
Unlike some natural fibers, rayon is hypoallergenic, making it a more versatile option than cotton. It is also cheaper than cotton or other natural fibers while maintaining the same amount of breathability and absorbency.
For a comfortable scrub that will move with your hectic days, Spandex is a top option. Spandex is a synthetic fabric known for its stretch and flexibility; yoga pants and tights are often made of the material.
Spandex scrubs are lightweight, breathable, and stretchy enough for ultimate comfort. If you’re someone who wants maximum flexibility, this fabric will be your best friend. You’re less likely to trigger someone’s allergies while wearing spandex scrubs compared to natural fibers like cotton.
How to Choose Your Fabric
With so many options for scrubs, remember to thoroughly research before you spend too much money on uncomfortable or unwearable scrubs. Things to consider when choosing a fabric include:
- What your work day is like. How strenuous are your tasks? Do you move around a lot physically?
- Local climate. If the temperature is warm and there’s high humidity, opt for something more breathable.
- Cleaning requirements of the fabric. Don’t spend hours hand-washing your scrubs when you could buy machine-washable ones!
Of course, you might consider other factors – like design, shape, and price – but think about the above three factors first, as they’ll impact your comfort most. Let’s explore each in more detail.
Consider the Work Day
Do you spend most of your day on your feet? Do you move around a lot, or are you stationary most of the time?
If you’re constantly moving, you’ll want a fabric that breathes well and won’t make you sweat – but if you’re stationary most of the time, you might get away with a heavier material.
When moving throughout the day, pick something like rayon rather than polyester or cotton. Cotton, while absorbent, can be thick and hot, and the absorbency might make you feel more uncomfortable than something with less absorbency.
If you live in a hot climate, you’ll want to look for scrubs made from natural fibers like cotton to help wick away moisture and keep you cool. Cold climate dwellers might want to consider scrubs made from synthetic materials like polyester, as they’ll help keep you warm.
There’s merit to buying different scrubs for distinct seasons. Having scrubs in different fabrics can make you feel far more comfortable year-round than if you stick to one kind of fabric.
Some fabrics can be washed and dried by machines, but others may require hand drying to avoid shrinkage or damage.
For example, spandex and rayon can end up heavily misshapen if the washing machine is too harsh or the dryer is too hot. Polyester is highly durable, so it’s less inclined to shrink or succumb to wear and tear. Cotton is also durable; however, excessive drying can cause shrinkage from time to time.
Medtecs Scrub Suits for Women use a blend of polyester, spandex, and rayon; the polyester lends more strength and breathability to the spandex and rayon. They can be washed cold and tumble dried, but never bleached or dry cleaned.
You should consider the accessibility of your laundry machine and the energy you have to do your laundry when buying scrubs.
Are you willing to air dry your scrubs? Do you want to toss them in the dryer and forget about it? How well will the fabric hold up to multiple washes in your machine at different intensities?
These are all things to consider when picking fabric for your scrubs.
When it comes to which material is “the best” for scrubs, it really comes down to your unique situation. Our bodies are different, as are our job descriptions – and thus, we all require certain things to be comfortable.
With this much subjectivity, consider everything we’ve mentioned above when deciding which fabric suits you best. You’ll thank yourself during a busy shift in the hospital wing!