I was asked the other day why nurses wear scrubs.

I was a little surprised by the question because I hadn’t really ever thought much about why I had to wear scrubs except that I had to.

I went and did some research and was a bit surprised to learn there are some practical reasons why nurses wear scrubs. Some were pretty obvious, and others not so much.

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Why Do Nurses Wear Scrubs?

Nurses wear scrubs because it’s mandated by their employer’s policy. On top of that, wearing scrubs allows nurses to be easily identified by patients and visitors. Furthermore, scrubs are more sanitary, easier to clean, and cheaper to dispose of than regular clothes.

The Reasons Nurses Wear Scrubs

Even though this article is specifically about nurses, please note that all these points are easily why doctors, pharmacists, nursing students, nurse techs, or any other medical professional or healthcare worker have to wear scrubs.

Nurses (this is a nursing website) just happens to be the focus of this article.

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1. Because Nurses Have to Wear Them

Let’s get the most straightforward answer out of the way. Hospitals and facilities many times have uniform requirements nurses have to abide by.

While some nurses might not necessarily like this, it is a condition of employment for most nurses.

How specific the uniform requirement gets will depend on the facility. I’ve seen situations where the facility says you have to wear scrubs and leaves it at that. They don’t care what color or style it is.

I’ve also worked at facilities where they mandated the specific color nurses have to wear. Some hospitals even go so far as making all their nurses get the scrub from the same place with the facilities logo embroidered on it.

Side Note
One facility I worked at required different multi-disciplinary team members (or different units) to wear specific colors.

For instance, all nurses wore a certain color. Respiratory wore a different color and so forth for other disciplines.

As frustrated as some staff were by the lack of options, it did have an added benefit for patients and staff members.

Because disciplines wore the same color, if you needed a pharmacist, respiratory therapist, physical therapist, a nurse, etc., it was easy to find one because of their scrub color.

You can also see how departments wearing specific colors can benefit high-security or lock-down units like the maternity ward or mental health units.

Related: What Do You Wear Under Scrubs?

2. Scrubs are Cheaper than Regular Clothes

One of the reasons scrubs end up being a good option for nurses is because replacing them tends to be cheaper than trying to replace your personal clothes.

If you look at some of these Landau scrubs, you can see they are less expensive than a lot of the clothes you might have in your closet.

I know there are exceptions to this, and you can buy more expensive scrubs, but for the most part, I would rather replace my scrub pants than trying to replace my jeans or my dress pants.

3. Because scrubs are just easier to clean.

Do you know what I do with my scrub pants when they’re dirty?

I throw them in the washer and use bleach if I have to. Can you imagine trying to clean your jeans or your dress pants every single day?

Nurses are exposed to a lot of bodily fluids and germs every shift. From experience, scrubs are just easier to clean.

4. Scrubs Are More Comfortable

This might be a personal preference, but I doubt you would find many nurses who disagree with me.

For me wearing scrubs for an 8-hour shift, 12-hour shift, or 16-hour shift is a lot more comfortable than trying to wear jeans.

I think scrubs tend to fit better and are just more comfortable to have on for more extended periods, especially when trying to do patient care like bed baths or patient transports.

Side Note:
The only thing more comfortable for me to have on than my scrubs are probably my sweat pants. If you’ve worn scrubs before and disagree with me…let me know in the comments below.

Related Article: 10 Top Scrub Brands for Nurses

5. Scrubs Are More Sanitary

Because nurses deal with some of the sickest people around, it’s essential that nurses wear clothes that are less resistant to transmitting those germs to themself, their families, or other patients they’re taking care of that are immunocompromised.

Many scrubs tend to have antimicrobial properties or are made from less porous material than typical clothes, making them easier to clean.

Side Note
Some facilities or departments require their nursing staff to come to work in their personal clothing and change into scrubs when they get to work. They then have to change out of the scrubs before leaving the hospital.

Those scrubs are then washed on-site to prevent nurses from taking germs or bacteria and spreading them outside the facility.

You’ll typically find this practiced more regularly with operating room hospital staff.

6. Scrubs Give a Uniform Professional Look

Say what you will about scrubs, but one of the nice things about wearing scrubs is that it helps with giving nurses a uniform appearance.

There’s something that just looks more professional wearing uniformed scrubs than wearing jeans. Then again, that might just be a personal opinion.

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Cool Nurses Wear Scrubs

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why nurses wear scrubs. Scrubs can be both fashionable and functional at the same time.

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Have You Read Any of These Yet?

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some FAQs commonly associated with the question, “why do nurses wear scrubs?”

No, not all nurses wear scrubs. Nurses who do not work directly with patient care often do not wear scrubs but instead wear business attire. An example would be a nurse case manager and a clinical nurse manager.

A dress code is so important for nurses because it helps with professionalism and establishing trust among patients.

Nurses cannot wear any scrubs they want. They need to look at their facility policy and see what guidelines are set. Depending on the facility, some nurses might be restricted in the color of the scrubs or where they have to get their scrubs.

Nurses wear scrubs in public usually when they’re running errands, either before or after work.

  • I thought it was interesting when you explained that nurses wear scrubs because it is easier to clean the germs that they are exposed to on a daily basis. I would imagine that since scrubs are so cheap, they can probably be purchased in bulk amounts. That way nurses won’t have to be getting new ones on a weekly basis.