Scrub Up Well

Charles Wilson, UK Sales Manager at Carrington Textiles, talks us through the vital requirements of a healthcare worker’s uniform.

On any given day, a healthcare professional could find themselves taking blood samples, assisting with dressing a wound and helping to move patients around the ward. All these duties could lead to the transfer of harmful bacteria from the patient onto the worker’s clothes, which can ultimately contribute towards the spread of diseases.

Within an environment such as a hospital or nursing home, it’s crucial for uniforms to achieve an optimum ‘kill time’ (the time it takes for an infection to die once it meets the surface of a fabric). However, this is not the only factor at play.

Here are three challenges manufacturers must consider when providing healthcare professionals with a garment that protects against infection:


There was a time when uniforms would be collected at the end of each shiſt to be industrially laundered at the necessary temperature on-site. However, budget pressures have meant that it now falls to the individual staff member to ensure their uniform (excluding surgical scrubs) is washed and cared for between shiſts. - 10 -

The inherent danger with this is that there is no strict policing on when, or where, this uniform can be worn. There’s nothing to stop a healthcare worker staying in their uniform while jumping on a bus or nipping to the local supermarket in their lunchbreak. This means the spread of secondary infections is no longer limited to within four walls and that uniforms are being worn for longer in environments they aren’t necessarily built for.

The Department of Health’s guidelines for the domestic laundering of uniforms advises that a minimum temperature of 60° in a wash cycle of 10 mins is required to remove almost all micro-organisms on the fabric’s surface. It also recommends that uniforms are stored (pre-wash) and washed separately to other items.

But it’s difficult to see how nurses can constantly achieve this when you consider the realities of modern life. There aren’t always enough hours in the day to turnaround a separate wash if you are on call or have two back-to-back shiſts, for example.

Regardless, prolonged usage and regular washing in high temperatures means that a durable fabric is required if it is to retain its protective qualities shiſt aſter shiſt.

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