Medical and Nursing Scrubs 101: A Fabric Guide

Medical and nursing scrubsMedical and nursing scrubs come in all shapes, sizes, and, of course, fabrics.

These work uniforms have been existing for a good amount of time and have important functions.

Firstly, they help healthcare workers to be properly identified. Plus they create an ease of movement – which is also very important. After all, healthcare workers need to be able to move freely, as they’re constantly walking around health facilities caring for patients.  

Medical scrubs are also a great way to bring comfort to healthcare professionals who are under immense pressure to do their job right. And so the fabric from which the medical scrub is made from is important. 

Medical and Nursing Scrubs 101

If you’re searching for medical and nursing scrubs, then comfort should be your utmost consideration. But you should also keep in mind other factors such as quality, design, and fit are equally important.

When you’re choosing the right fabric for your scrubs, be sure to focus on a fabric that allows you to perform your duties more efficiently.

And, whether you know everything or nothing about fashion and fabrics, this guide will help you to learn new things about scrub fabrics. 

Pros and Cons of Medical and Nursing Scrubs Fabrics


Like the hard work you’re putting into your studies to promote your nursing career, cotton is a durable, yet soft and lightweight fabric that can withstand multiple uses, static electricity, and chemical-cleaning products. 

It’s easy to wash off stains from cotton scrubs, and yet it requires no special care to maintain. As one of the most common fabric materials, cotton is ideal for women who want figure-hugging scrubs, as its characteristics make a nice fit. Cotton is also easy to handle and form into several designs, perfect if you’re planning to customize your own scrub. 

Downsides:  While cotton holds dye well, the colors may fade due to laundry chemicals and disinfectants. Improper washing may cause the cotton fabric to shrink.   


This synthetic fabric is most often associated with swimwear and sports apparel, mainly because apart from stretching up to eight times its size, spandex is sweat and abrasion-resistant. 

Originally created as a substitute for rubber in 1959, spandex is rarely used in its pure form by the garments industry. Instead, it’s typically mixed in varying percentages to create better garments.    

It keeps its shape and form no matter how much you stretch it. Spandex mixed with cotton and other natural, as well as synthetic fabrics, is used to make form-fitting women’s scrub pants.

Downsides: Spandex sticks to your body, so it doesn’t allow your skin to breathe. It’s also sensitive to heat and requires extra care when being washed. So, read the labels closely to see how you can extend the life of your spandex-laden medical scrub.


Although less comfortable than cotton, polyester is more durable. Quick-drying and easy to care for, polyesters are moisture-resistant and less absorbent than the other fabrics. And, unlike cotton, this synthetic fabric is resistant to stretching, wrinkling, and shrinkage. Because of its limited stretching capacity, this man-made fabric is typically blended with other types such as cotton.       

Downsides: Polyester builds static. Since it’s moisture resistant, it can’t absorb fluids and sweat properly. In addition, others may find the fabric rough on the skin. Using a fabric softener may do the trick.  


This manufactured fiber made from wood pulp isn’t considered a natural fiber because of the several chemicals involved in creating one. Known for its shiny appearance, rayon feels soft and comfortable as it drapes well to your body. 

Like cotton, it’s highly absorbent, breathable, and holds dye and print, really well. 

Downsides: May shrink or stretch when wet, so handwashing it is better than putting it in the laundry machine. This synthetic fabric may be washed or dry cleaned.  

The advances in the garment manufacturing industry have allowed these medical scrub fabric staples to be woven together to create a blended fabric. The result? An overall better medical scrub that effectively mixes style, comfort, and function. It may not take long before these blended fabrics are used to create reusable fabric masks.   

Polyester and Cotton

These fabrics have their own strengths and weaknesses. When they’re combined, it can make a versatile fabric that’s perfect for medical scrubs.  

The cotton-polyester blend combines the comfort of cotton with the wrinkle resistance and toughness of polyester. Polyester doesn’t shrink or deform like cotton, so this blend is easier to wash. Compared to pure polyester garments, this blend is more breathable and moisture-absorbent.

A medical scrub made from polyester and cotton, also called poly-cotton, can withstand high washing temperatures and keeps its hues and prints longer. It’s also tear-resistant.     

Cotton and Spandex

Spandex is known for its ultimate stretching capabilities. When woven together with cotton, it creates a comfortable and breathable material that’s also slightly stretchable. Most medical scrubs made from this fabric blend contain only a small amount of spandex, so it retains most of the positive characteristics of cotton, but with additional positive advantages as resistance to wrinkles and added durability. Medical scrubs using this fabric are known to have less pilling.  

Polyester and Spandex

Many health workers also turn to this manufactured fabric blend to make their medical scrubs. Toughness is one of the hallmark traits of polyester fabric. The spandex that’s woven together with polyester slightly improves the absorbent and stretching capacities of the latter.    

Polyester-spandex blends are also wrinkle-resistant and have a silkier feel when compared to other blends.  

Stretch Fabrics 

An increasing number of medical scrub manufacturers use stretch fabrics to make medical uniforms. Four-way stretch fabric is a top favorite among health workers. This type is typically made from rubber mixed with other organic or synthetic fabrics that allow it to stretch crosswise and lengthwise. This type of fabric typically uses ultra-stretch and soft materials such as nylon and Lycra. Ultimately, this type of fabric aims to give its wearer complete freedom of movement. Ideally, it should be worn by those engaged in active sports such as hikers, bikers, and runners.   

Stretch fabrics are ideal for medical workers who often work long hours and move frequently. 

Essential Features of Medical Scrubs 

Apart from comfort, medical scrubs should also have the following essential features such as breathability and durability. Scrubs shouldn’t limit the movement and they should withstand frequent washing. It should be easy to wash, dries quickly, and fits perfectly. Medical scrubs and their fabric should look nice, have a therapeutic color such as blue, green, and pink, and should also promote professionalism. Most importantly, medical scrubs should comply with the rules set by the employer.

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