Lab coats are the characteristic uniform of doctors, scientists and other scientific professionals. They protect the clothes worn underneath them, but more than that, they are a symbol of status and rank within many organizations. There's nothing quite like a crisp, clean white lab coat, which is why it's crucial to launder yours regularly and adequately.
Washing a Lab Coat in a Washing Machine
You should wash your lab coat by itself in case it has anything on it that you don't realize. It also helps prevent your white coat from getting colors on it. Put the lab coat in the tub of the washing machine by itself.
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If your lab coat does not have a monogram, you can wash it with bleach, which is the ultimate stain and germ-fighting cleaning agent. Add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of bleach to the appropriate dispenser in your machine. If you have a top-loader, you may need to add it directly to the tub. In a situation where you can't use bleach because your white lab coat has a monogram, use the regular heavy-duty laundry detergent that you use for your other clothes with the recommended amount for a single load of laundry.
Run the washing machine on the regular cycle with warm water for a blended fabric and cold water for cotton in order to prevent shrinking. If your lab coat is cotton, let it air dry rather than drying it in the machine. You may want to air dry a blended lab coat as well, but those can go in the dryer on low heat if desired.
Removing Stains From Lab Coats
If your lab coat doesn't have a monogram and you're using bleach in the wash cycle, that might remove the stains adequately. Nonetheless, you may want to treat the stain before washing so that the stain doesn't set.
If you have a stain remover product, use that according to the manufacturer's instructions. Alternatively, soak the coat in a mixture of cold water and 1/4 cup of oxygenated detergent. Rub the stain with the mixture to remove it, even using a small brush (such as an old toothbrush) to scrub it. Let it soak overnight if you can but several hours should suffice. Then, you can put the coat into the washing machine.
Washing a Lab Coat With Chemicals on It
Whether or not you can wash a lab coat that has chemicals on it depends on the chemicals themselves. If they're dangerous or cannot come into contact with bleach, experts recommend using a commercial cleaner formulated for dealing with hazardous chemicals. If the coat has somehow become contaminated, consider throwing it away.
Otherwise, using bleach is a must. Wash the lab coat in the combination of bleach and water. If your lab coat has a monogram, you may need to use hot water, which is also effective in decontamination.
Washing a Lab Coat With Bodily Fluids on It
Usually, it's not recommended to wash lab coats with bodily fluids at home in your washing machine, especially if the coat is thoroughly contaminated. For one thing, you shouldn't even transport it home in the first place and risk further contamination.
Take extra care to treat stains. If you have a colored monogram and can't wash it in bleach, treat just the affected areas with a mixture of bleach and water. That will kill any germs. Then, launder your coat appropriately.