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05 Nov

Are germs being spread through healthcare uniforms?

Germs Being Spread Through Healthcare Uniforms

It seems today that everywhere we go; whether it is the grocery store, movie theatre, restaurant, doctor’s office or the mall, we are seeing sterile cleanser dispensers all over the place.  Fighting the spread of germs is on everyone’s mind these days and doing whatever we can to combat this battle is the main game plan.  In fact, I am willing to bet that many of us carry a small personal size sterile cleanser in our briefcase, purse or car.  Bottom line - we are willing to take steps to stop the spread of germs.  So if this is the case, why do we not think the same way when it comes to leaving work and going home in our healthcare uniforms, whether it is scrubs or lab coats?

Every week during my travels, I visit many laundries and healthcare facilities.  Controlling the spread of germs is key and very important to the many employees that work at these facilities as well as the patients and family members who visit.  Although many facilities offer laundering of employee’s uniforms by a local laundry, many staff members choose to leave work in their scrubs and/or lab coats and home launder their uniforms.  

To me, I personally find the notion of home laundering to be an unsafe practice.  Why anyone would want to bring their uniforms worn around sick people all day long home and wash them with the rest of their family’s clothing is beyond me.  Think about this, the hotter the water temperature the easier it is to kill germs.  According to local regulations and laws, water used in home washers will not exceed 120 degrees, whereas in the commercial laundry setting the water temperature is set for 145 – 165 degrees.   Thus the hotter the water the more germs are killed.

Many healthcare facilities today are starting to realize the direct correlation between the health and wellbeing of their employees and their family members to the health and wellbeing of their patients.  The only way to stop this spread of germs is to stop the employee from going home in their uniforms. Today more and more healthcare facilities are starting to implement dress codes stating that no employee can come or leave work in scrubs or lab coats.  All employees must enter and leave work in street clothes then change into their uniforms upon arriving at work.  This is a battle being fought hard by many employees as they see this as a nuisance instead of a safety factor.  

Cleveland Clinic located in Cleveland, Ohio recently implemented a dress code policy stating that if you are employed by the Cleveland Clinic Health System, you must come to work in street clothes and change into your uniform upon arrival and then change back into your street clothes upon the end of your work shift.  When this policy was first implemented, there was some pushback.  Now that it has been in practice for a while, not only has it been accepted by the employees who work at Cleveland Clinic, they have seen a drop in sick days and the spread of germs on campus.  Bottom line, it works!

Want to learn more about setting up a dress code policy?  Contact Scott at

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