How Do Antimicrobial Scrubs Work? The Future in Scrub Fabric Technology

The Future in Scrub Fabric Technology

Surgeons scrubbing hands

ou wash your hands between every patient, before and after eating and after you use the bathroom. You do everything you can to keep your patients safe from pathogens like E Coli, salmonella and MRSA.

But all the hand-washing in the world doesn’t change the fact that you often wear the same scrubs for an entire eight- to 12-hour shift.

Scrubs and lab coats are an easy way for microbes to travel around a hospital. That’s why many manufacturers are focusing on antimicrobial scrub technology. This technology helps keep patients safe from new infections while under the care of medical professionals.

What are the Benefits of Antimicrobial Scrubs?

It’s easy to see the benefits of antimicrobial scrub technology. These special scrubs help reduce the transmission of microbes in the hospital. Any technology or practice that could help reduce the transmission of pathogens around a hospital is worthwhile. Antimicrobial lab coats are especially beneficial, since you’re more likely to get bacteria onto the long sleeves of these garments.

As a bonus, the same antimicrobial scrub technology that strives for increased patient safety also helps reduce the appearance and spread of pit stains and foot smell. Technology that has the potential to kill dangerous pathogens also works on embarrassing stain- and stench-causing bacteria. That makes antimicrobial socks and antimicrobial shoes even more valuable.

How Do Antimicrobial Scrubs Work?

Antimicrobial scrubs work in a variety of ways. The exact technology varies by manufacturer, but there are several main subsets of antimicrobial scrub technology. Typically, fabric is coated in some kind of antimicrobial treatment, so you can get antimicrobial clothing in all your favorite fabrics. Some fabrics utilize several of these technologies.

  • Some antimicrobial scrubs attach to the DNA of microbes. The agent used in these fabrics attaches to the DNA of microbes with the goal of making it impossible for those microbes to reproduce.
  • Some antimicrobial scrubs target specific microbe types. These may be more effective at halting the spread of a specific bacteria or virus.
  • Some target specific proteins that are necessary for the growth, reproduction or spread of microbes.
  • Some antimicrobial scrubs also come with fluid barrier technologies. This fabric type is more resistant to absorbing liquid without compromising the feel or strength of the fabric. This helps reduce absorption of any microbe-rich fluids that you may come into contact with.

Different brands of scrubs use their own antimicrobial technologies. The main takeaway is that antimicrobial scrubs aim to reduce the growth of bacteria that can spread disease and cause odors.

As with all technologies, the effectiveness of antimicrobial treatments depends on a variety of factors. Recent studies have shown antimicrobial technology can effectively reduce mold and fungus growth in antimicrobial shoes and socks, which really helps reduce foot smell.

Three models wearing Infinity by Cherokee antimicrobial scrubs
Male nurse wearing blue scrubs standing in hospital room

Antimicrobial Scrub Brands We Carry

Safe for sensitive skin and compatible with heat transfer and screen-printing, scrubs featuring Certainty® and Certainty Plus® antimicrobial treatments are available in a wide variety of styles and colors. Now, you don’t have to sacrifice style in the workplace in order to have reliable antimicrobial and fluid protection functionality. allheart carries a variety of trusted brands that utilize this technology, including Infinity by Cherokee, code happy, Careisma by Sofia Vergara, heartsoul, and Sapphire Scrubs™.

In the Real World: Do They Work?

A study published in The Cambridge University Press showed a reduction of MRSA when healthcare workers used antimicrobial scrubs in a hospital setting. However, the same study did not show a reduction of two other pathogens. Several other studies have failed to show a decrease in microbial activity between normal and antimicrobial scrubs.

These studies do not specify which brands of antimicrobial scrubs were used, nor which types of technology were involved. The antimicrobial scrubs sold at perform well in some lab tests, and it’s possible that hospital practices account for the lack of efficacy found in other studies.

Don’t Skip Hygiene When Using Antimicrobial Scrubs

One thing to remember when wearing these kinds of scrubs is that antimicrobial technology is no stand-in for good hygiene practices. Washing hands, especially after bathing and wound care, is the best way to keep microbes off your body. Keeping your arms bare below your elbows and ensuring work environments are sterile will also help immensely.

The bottom line is that antimicrobial scrubs show excellent reduction of MRSA, staph and pneumonia in lab tests used by And, as a major added bonus for the high-stress healthcare pro, they’re also effective at reducing foot smell and armpit stains. They’re no stand-in for excellent hygiene and a sterile work environment, though, so don’t rely on garments as your only defense against microbe transmission.

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