Getting Stains Out of Your Scrubs


If you are like me, sometimes when you get home there are stains on your scrubs and you have no idea where they came from. Then you get to play a little game I like to call “Name That Stain.” That is followed by the question “is that mine or my patient’s?”

I have compiled a list of various stains and the best treatment for each, as treatments vary for different stains and even the amount or time set of each type of stain.

Coffee – If you work in the hospital, you most likely could bring a few pots of coffee a week. Spills happen. I am not a coffee drinker (Gah! I know, right?!?!) but I do love the occasional frappucino, which I have spilled on myself. For coffee I use my commercially available stain remover. Anything else is just roulette, and I’d rather not ruin my scrubs.

Betadine – Unfortunately, Betadine is pretty permanent. I’ve had a lot of luck with the Grandma’s secret spot remover fading it down though. :0(

Blood, Dried – Dried blood is completely different from wet blood. For this I use an unseasoned meat tenderizer, mixed with just enough water to make a paste. Rub the paste just onto the stain and let it sit for around 1 hour. Rinse out and air dry until you are sure that the stain is totally gone. The hot air from the dryer can cause the stain to set permanently if it’s still there.

Blood, Wet -Let me put this caveat on here. Every time I have gotten wet blood (or dried for that matter) it has been my own. I have cut myself, torn a cuticle, whatever. It happens. One time I had a nosebleed because it is RIDICULOUSLY dry in the hospital. If it was someone else’s blood it’s different. Anyhow, my regimen for wet blood is this. I immediately take the garment off. I have a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide. I make sure to soak the stain from both sides with it. You will know you are in the right area when you hit it. It will start to foam like crazy! I rinse with cold water and blot dry, then check to see if the stain is gone. If not, I repeat!

Ink Pen – This one is pretty straight forward. You’ll just need rubbing alcohol. Pour it over the stain and give it a few minutes to set. Then simply toss it in the wash and you’re done!
Mineral Oil – For mineral oil, you might be tempted to throw some type of powder on there to absorb the excess oil. Don’t! The best way to remove oil, just as with your pots and pans, is plain old Dawn dish soap. My choice for Dawn is the type with no added colors, but I have used the blue version and it leaves absolutely no color behind, so really the choice is yours.

Urine – Yuck! This goes without saying that if you have to read about this stain or the next one, you’re having a bad day! Urine is pretty simple, just throw it in the wash and it should come out on it’s own. If the urine has been colored with pyridium though (for UTI/bladder infections) which turns the urine bright orange, that stain is FOREVER and it would be better if you dyed the scrubs a completely different color if you can.
Feces – My first suggestion is to just chuck whatever has been contaminated with feces. I totally understand, though, if you need to keep them for financial reasons. I would bag them up at work and bring them home to launder. The first thing you want to do is set up a presoak with warm water and a detergent that contains enzymes (which destroy the stain), my favorite being Arm & Hammer with Oxyclean. Then you would wash the clothing at the hottest possible setting that the clothing will allow, using a bleach or color-safe bleach.

Rust – To get rust out I use, depending on the season, a couple of tricks. During the summer when the sun is out I have found that salt and lemon juice works best. Generously sprinkle the salt over the stain, then saturate with the lemon juice. Place the cloth in the sun to fade, keeping the stain saturated with the lemon juice. In the winter (which is pretty harsh here) I use my Dawn and it has worked for me.

Ketchup, Tomato Sauce, Salsa, or Anything Tomato Based – Remove as much of the excess sauce as you can. You can use a spoon for this part so you don’t hurt the clothing.  Then I run cold water through the back of the cloth so that it forces more of the sauce out through the front side. Next, I rub a liquid detergent directly into the stain , starting from the outside of the stain working towards the inside. You can also use hydrogen peroxide on this type of stain if you want, after blotting dry. Alternate detergent and hydrogen peroxide until you can’t see the stain anymore.
Mustard – Do the same process as above for getting any excess mustard off of the cloth. Then spray with either rubbing alcohol or the hydrogen peroxide. Let this sit on the stain for some time. Then add a little vinegar and the rest of the stain should just come out.

Oil  Based Salad Dressing – For oil based salad dressings, you’ll need a couple of things. The first is cornstarch, the second is any dish soap of your choosing. Again, I use Dawn for these stains. The first thing you want to do is generously pour the cornstarch over the stain. It’s going to soak up the excess. Let as much of the oil absorb as possible, then once it’s dry flake the cornstarch off with your fingernail. You should be left with a lightly oily stain, instead of saturation. Then you can use your dish soap as you did above with the mineral oil.

Lately I have been using the scrub-a-dub stain remover from Cherokee Scrubs. I bought this because I was at the scrub store and had just purchased around $200 worth of pristine white scrubs. I just knew that they wouldn’t stay that way for very long as I am a super klutz, especially when it comes to food!

stains scrubs hospitalWhen all else fails and I have a stain that I cannot get out of my scrubs, I pull out my big gun. It’s called Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover. This is hands down the best stain remover I have ever purchased. To get your own bottle of the spot remover, click on the photo below.

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