What’s that stain on your scrubs?!

Image: Stockbyte | Thinkstock + Scrubs Magazine

This quarter is slowly coming to an end (finally!), and I am getting super excited for ICU and community health next quarter. But heading back into the clinical setting means donning those dreaded white scrubs again – something I am NOT looking forward to.

Among the many reasons I have for not liking my white uniform, one of the biggest reasons is that white and I don’t get along. I don’t think I have ever been  able to keep white looking just white for long, and my scrubs are no exception to this rule. There have been a great many stains that have come (and gone, thank goodness!) on these scrubs, from sticky yellow vitamin K to unmentionable -uhhm – “waste products,” and the super starchy-ness of them doesn’t help hide the stain in any way, only exaggerates it in the most uncomfortable way. But even those non-nursing related stains can get you some pretty crazy stares.

One hospital I was doing a rotation at had a super yummy cafeteria stocked with my favorite summer lunch – SUSHI! And of course with sushi comes soy sauce and wasabi. So after lunch, we’re getting ready to head back to the floor, and as I am talking to my friend, she looks down at my scrubs with a shocking, “OH NO!” Yes, my little tray of soy sauce and wasabi had spilled all down the front of both the top and bottom of my scrubs, leaving little brown green blobs all over. Needless to say, if you didn’t know what I had eaten for lunch, you would be pretty grossed out by how it looked. It was pretty mortifying. I spent the rest of the day blob-covered and head hanging low.

The stares from staff and patients alike were enough to make me loathe the super whiteness of our scrubs, but the worst was heading to the market afterward to pick up stain remover. Market-goers and non-hospital savvy folk are not used to seeing strange stains over ultra white scrubs. Fortunately I was able to get the blobs out [tip: OxiClean Instant Stain Remover did the trick in this case], but I guarantee there are more stains to come. I guess I will just have to wait to see what new stains next quarter will bring.

Nurses: What are some of your crazy stained scrub stories?

Take the Scrubs laundry poll!

We have a hunch…and want to prove it. All the nurses we know are saddled with what appears to be tons more laundry than civilians. Is this the case with you?

How many wash loads have you done in the past 7 days?

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How many times have you used laundry stain removers and/or laundry boosters in the past 7 days?

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The average household does around 8 loads of laundry each week.* Do you think nurses do more? Share your comments below!

*Source: Journal of Consumer Studies & Home Economics, July 2007

[main image: Stockbyte | Thinkstock]

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.

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11 Responses to What’s that stain on your scrubs?!

  1. Jenni

    My worst stain is a bit gross to the average person, but as nurses I am sire we have all seen our share. My stain happened when I was an aide on a med surg floor while in nursing school. I had an elderly lady who had been given mag citrate and she hit her call light because she needed help to the bedside commode…… needless to say she really had to go. As I am helping her she is trying to hurry and instead of turning toward the commode she turned toward me and…… well you can guess, I had spewing amounts of liquid BM running down the front of me, in my shoes and socks. I helped to the commode, consoling her, she was so embarrassed. I reassured her thats what we do and not to worry. I then hit the call light so I could get some fellow nurses to help and get me some new scrubs from surgery and luckily I had a spare pair of shoes in the car. From that day on I ALWAYS have a spare set of scrubs, socks, and shoes in the trunk of my car. I never did get those scrubs clean, so I had to toss them. Hope you all get a chuckle and were not too grossed out.

  2. Back in the early 80s (yes, I’ve been a nurse that long and longer!), and working at a Baptist hospital in the South, we wore white uniforms, not scrubs, and still wore white caps. One evening, as I was recovering an open heart patient in our ICU, the PA ordered more blood to be given, and pumped in STAT. We had the devices that pumped up like a blood pressure cuff, and you guessed it: I pumped too hard and the bag of blood exploded all down the front of my whites. There were even droplets on my face, but fortunately, I had already pulled my cap off, or I”m sure I would never have been able to get the stains out of that. The PA walked into the room, shook his head, and walked out. I was so embarrassed.

    I don’t remember if I got the stains out or not.

    • Denise B, RN

      I did the same thing back in the 80’s. Blood all over my white dress. Yes, I wore dresses and skirts to work. I could’nt get the stain out so I took it to an even older nurse for advice. She took my uniform home and when I went to go pick it up she had it spread out on her front lawn letting the green grass and the sun bake the stain out. It actually worked.

  3. Barbara

    I work in a Emergency Department, and one night we had a 17 year old sudden cardiac arrest come in. We actually got her back after quite a long time and as the respiratory therapist was about to suction the pt, whose ETT just happened to be pointed in my direction, just as I was about to give a med, this young lady coughed and a HUGE amount of bloody fluid came shooting out of the ett and all over me, can you say head to toe?? In my hair, down my shirt and down my pants into my socks. A quick shower and scrubs change later, I was right back at it. I think about keeping an extra bra at work, but its only been that bad once in 11 years!!

  4. Renea

    When I was a student we had to wear white uniforms with the green strip down around the arm band! To this day I hate white and I refuse to wear a white uniform unless they make me! During our OB rotations, I got to sit in on my first delivery. Of course, being a student we want to be as close as possible to everything without being in the way. Well, when the Dr. said to come on over and watch as he cut the cord, as an eager student who wants to be in L&D, I came right over. When he cut the cord, I wasn’t expecting the large amount of blood that shot up and across and landed all down my top and pants. Luckily I did have a set of scrubs in my car and my instructor did let me change. I actually still have some signs of the stain in the uniform that still hangs in my closet to this day!

  5. Rebecca

    The hardest stain I ever tried to remove from white scrubs: tube feeding formula, mixed with a little gastric fluid. Was awful, I also learned to carry an extra set of clothes with me.

  6. Shawnee

    When I was in nursing school, I was bathing an alzheimer’s patient in the shower room. As I was pulling off her depends, her C-Diff positive stool flung all down my white nursing pants. Thanks to her dementia, she tried to use the sprayer to wash it off. So my crisp white pants were wet AND covered in stool. Not a great combination! Thankfully, I lived close to the clinical site and my instructor actually let me go home to change! (Technically against clinical rules, but she really felt for me!)

  7. Vickie Walters

    Back when I was a new grad., I was on orientation and my preceptor was so good at showing me easier ways of getting my job done quickly. One suggestion was to draw up methyl blue in a syringe and add it to the tube feed bag, squeeze bag to mix and your on your way. I added the methyl blue, closed the lid and squeezed the bag a few times. Yes it popped open and blue tube feed shot straight out of the top and coated the wall, bed, myself and unbielivably missed the patients face and hair. My scrubs did not come clean and the wall was stained too.

  8. Eric Jordan Yumul

    I was assigned in ICU Department. One of my co-workers celebrates his farewell party inside SICU (just a door away from ICU, no patient during that time) when I was about to grab the pizza to put into my mouth, hospital-made pizza as they call, I never thought the dough to be too flexy and it fell down my white scrubs down to my white pants.. It was so embarrassing to my co-workers as well to my patients. It must be a lesson. :)

  9. Abby Student

    When I was working at a nursing home as an aide, I was allowed to wear whatever scrubs I wanted. Thinking I would be smart, I got the darkest scrubs I found. (especially after white for cna school-not just clinicals, every day) My facility’s policy required the use of moisture barrier on all residents. I quickly learned that that stuff does not come out. I have scrubs that are black, blue etc, and they can’t be bleached, but they have these awful white stains on them. I guess that’s one good thing about the whites that I am now required to wear for rn clinicals. We actually wear green scrubs in lab and only wear our white uniforms (dresses or pant suits) in the clinical setting

  10. deadeyenurse

    There is 1 item that I have never been to get out of a pair of scrubs….activated charcoal. seems like sorbitol makes it set in quicker and deeper too