You wear scrubs for 12 or more hours at a time, so you want to make sure you are investing in comfortable, durable garments that will stand up to all kinds of challenges during a shift. Shopping for scrubs can be an intimidating process, but it is important to know what options are available. Understanding how scrub fabric works will help you make educated decisions and ensure that your purchase has the features that best suit your needs.
There are four main types of scrub fabrics: Cotton, Polyester, Rayon, and Spandex. Scrub brands will typically blend two or more of these fabrics to create a product that contains qualities that wouldn't be possible without being combined.
Cotton is one of the most popular fabrics for scrubs. It is soft, breathable, durable, and doesn’t build up static electricity. The fabric is easy to launder and takes well to ironing, which makes it perfect for sanitizing your scrubs. Cotton scrubs are a great option for people who want to avoid synthetic fibers, however, they lack stretch and are prone to shrinkage. For these reasons, blending cotton with other more durable fabrics is a common choice.
Polyester, like cotton, is a popular scrub fabric. It’s a synthetic material that is durable, wrinkle-resistant, moisture-wicking, and easy to care for. Polyester also resists stretching and shrinking, which is why it’s often blended with cotton. If you’ve got a static buildup problem with your polyester scrubs, we recommend washing them with fabric softener to stop this from happening.
Rayon is derived from natural fibers. However, because of the processing with chemicals, it is known as a semi-synthetic fabric. Rayon is a soft, lightweight, breathable, and absorbent fabric that is made to mimic the look and feel of other fabrics, including silk, cotton, and linen. The only downside is that it can wrinkle easily, so a little more upkeep is needed. The best benefit of scrubs with a rayon blend is that it provides some of the same properties of a cotton blend at a lower price point.
Spandex is a synthetic fiber known as the “stretchy” fabric. This fabric will stretch out, but it will return to its original shape when you take off the garment, which is why spandex prevents bagging and sagging. Spandex scrubs have anti-perspirant capabilities and are more resistant to stains. Take note that when a fabric blend is made with more than 10% Spandex it does not wear as well, nor is it very breathable.