How to keep your lab coat clean

How to keep your lab coat clean

Introduction

Have you spilled your coffee on your shinning new white lab coat or were clumsy with the chemicals in the lab?  Don’t worry, we are here to tell you how to take care of the stains and your lab coat so you keep looking fresh! 

Lab coats are like a shield for your skin and your clothes. They are meant to prevent contamination and protect you from biological, chemical and radiological agents. Since they have the very important task of protecting you every day in the lab from spills and sprays, good lab coats can be expensive. 

I like this analogy I came across one day online and it stuck in my head. Maybe now, it’s going to also stick in yours. But hey, it’s always good to preach about safety! 

The analogy worthy of remembering goes like this:  “Think of lab coats a little like fire extinguishers. Most days in the lab, you shouldn't even need one. However, you want to make sure that when the time comes and you DO need them, they will fulfil their purpose and do the job they are designed for.”

How to care for a non-contaminated lab coat 

Usually, labs have written standard operating procedures (SOP) about the laundering of lab coats and typically use a professional laundry service. You should abide by those rules. However, home washing instructions are also stated here, for general use and where SOPs are not in effect.

The high-quality white lab coats should be washed routinely and depending on the amount of use. Wash it inside out and separately from dark and strong colours. We don’t want our coat turning pink!

 wash at 60 degrees Machine wash on maximum 30° Celsius.
do not bleach Do not use bleach.
Basic dryer on normal cycle and medium heat or let it dry naturally.
Iron on warm (150°C or 300°F).

Dry cleaning process instruction.

 

If you follow these instructions for regularly washing a non-contaminated lab coat you will keep it shinning-white and in top condition for a long time!

Contamination alert! How to clean a contaminated lab coat?

So we covered washing a lab coat contaminated only with marks of very early mornings in the lab a.k.a. coffee spills. But what to do when you spill something more dangerous or you use your coat for wiping your hands (don’t do it, folks!)?

Here are some main points you should follow when contamination occurs:

  • Once contaminated with hazardous chemicals it should be treated as soon as possible. 
  • Lab coats should be free from obvious contamination before you send them to the laundry. 
  • If lab coats cannot be decontaminated prior to cleaning, ensure that the cleaner is aware of the type of contamination. 
  • Coats contaminated with biohazardous materials must be decontaminated prior to disposal.
  • Typically lab coats can be disposed of as regular solid waste. 
  • However, contaminated lab coats should be removed from the laboratory only in a contaminated laundry or waste container as per the hazardous waste disposal policy. 
  • In case that the contamination cannot be safely neutralized, you should not attempt to launder your lab coat but instead replace it and buy a new one. 

Many workplaces have a well-defined plan or SOPs in place for laundering lab coats (contaminated or non-contaminated), so the best advice we can give is to educate yourself if your facility has them and keep up to date with them.

In order for the lab coats to protect you optimally, they need to be kept in good condition. Once their integrity is compromised it is time for a new one! But don’t worry that only means one thing! 

It’s time for shopping for exciting new lab fashion or to start creating your new design to put on your new lab coat!


Lab coat care Q&A

What are the instructions for washing the Lab label coat?

Usually specific labs, have standard operating procedures (SOP) about laundering of lab coats and use a professional laundry service. You should abide by those rules. However, home washing instructions are also stated here, for general use and where SOPs are not in effect.

 wash at 60 degrees Machine wash on maximum 30° Celsius.
do not bleach Do not use bleach.
Basic dryer on normal cycle and medium heat or let it dry naturally.
Iron on warm (150°C or 300°F).

Dry cleaning process instruction.

 

Will the fabric shrink?

No, if you wash according to instructions, the fabric will not shrink.

How often should I clean my The Lab Label coat?

Frequency of cleaning your TLL coat depends on the amount of use.

Can I dry clean my The Lab Label coat?

Yes, this icon indicates dry cleaning is possible. The letter in the circle indicates to the dry cleaner which process to use.

Will the print fade with washing?

No, if you wash according to instructions, the print will not fade.

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