What is a scrub suit

What is a scrub suit? What is the difference between the material and style of the traditional and new scrub suits?

What is a scrub suit? Everyone has more or less watched some medical dramas, such as: “Hospital Playlist” in Korea, “Grey’s Anatomy” in the United States, “Team Medical Dragon” in Japan, “Monroe” in the UK, “Wake Up” in Taiwan…etc. Through the presentation of medical dramas, people who usually do not have contact with the hospital unless they are ill can get a glimpse of the work of medical care professionals. In addition to enjoying the exciting plot, the audience should have also been curious about the clothes of the medical staff in the play, right? This article will not discuss the white robes of doctors that symbolize professional image, but will focus on the scrub suit worn in the operating room.


What is a ” scrub suit”? Who needs to wear a ” scrub suit”?


“Scrub” refers to the surgical hand disinfection before entering the operating room, which simply means brushing the hands clean. The so-called “Scrub Suit”, a short-sleeved V-neck top and trousers, is worn during surgery and usually doctors will put on a long-sleeved isolation surgical gown outside the scrub suit to prevent blood from splashing on the body. The reason why it is called a scrub suit is because every physician before entering the operating room will go through the disinfection action of “scrubbing hands” and most of them wear scrub suit in a sterile environment (scrubbed environment).

In addition to physicians who need to enter the operating room, there are also some departments or nursing staff who directly use scrub suits as uniforms or work clothes. For the comfort of the doctor, the design of the scrub suit is usually simple and loose, which is quite suitable for busy medical professionals. Some hospitals also use scrub suits to replace the traditional nurse uniform.


What is a scrub suit


The color of scrub suit – is the scrub suit only green?


The color of scrub suit is not only green. In fact, quite a few colors have been developed although green is still the most common color. Usually, the isolation gown or surgical gown are mostly green or blue. So why not choosing white like doctor’s robe, but green?

In fact, doctor’s robe is not white in the beginning. Physicians in the 1900s also used to wear black robes. Because medical care was not developed at that time, most people saw a doctor as a symbol of a serious illness. At that time, priests and magistrates also wore similar black robes, and most people met with these professional figures in life-or-death situations, and the results were not too optimistic.

White scrub suits have also appeared in history. At that time, the operation was not carried out under sterile conditions, but in an open indoor environment, and there were even people (of course not disinfected) watching. As for a doctor wearing a white scrub suit, the standard for measuring his achievement was to see whether his white suits were stained with blood. The more blood on the clothes, the larger and more difficult the operation was. Fortunately, this trend has been banned with the evolution of the times.

The most common green color in modern hospitals is selected based on the theory of “complementary color afterimage”. Complementary colors are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel (see the color wheel below). Complementary color afterimage means that when we first look at a certain color for a period of time and then move our eyes away to other places, in order to obtain balance, our eyes will produce complementary colors. This visual afterimage principle makes our eyes see the complement of the color you just saw.

Color wheel

<color wheel>

During the operation, the doctor will see a lot of red blood. If the medical personnel in the operating room are all wearing white scrub suit, when the doctor’s eyes shift from the patient’s red blood to the white scrub suit, they’ll see red’s complementary color – green. After a long time, the afterimage will cause visual fatigue, and the eyes will easily become unclear, which will affect the quality of the operation. Therefore, choosing green as the afterimage complementary color helps to reduce the visual fatigue of doctors.

In addition to green, blue is often selected to be the color of scrub suit as it’s the complementary color of orange. The blue color of scrub suit in the United Kingdom is also named “Theatre Blues”. For those who do not need to enter the operating room, but use scrub suit as work clothes, there are now quite a variety of colors to choose from, such as Raspberry, Misty Grey, Cobalt Blue, etc. Usually hospitals will give different departments different colors in order to distinguish them.


The material of scrub suit

The material of scrub suit


For hospital personnel who need to wear scrub suit for a long time, the most important thing is the comfort of the materials. The common types of materials for scrub suits are: “100% cotton”, “CVC or T/C blended material” and “T/R blended material”.

T refers to polyester fiber.

C refers to Cotton.

R means Rayon.

CVC refers to Chief Value Cotton, that is, the fiber content of cotton is more than polyester (cotton/polyester blended).

T/C refers to a blend of polyester fiber and cotton, with more polyester fiber content than cotton.

T/R refers to a blend of polyester fiber and rayon. The content of polyester fiber is more than that of rayon. It can also be blended with elastic yarn (spandex) to increase the elasticity of the fabric (TR Spandex-Poly/Rayan/Spandex).


Note: We have another article introducing the materials, properties and functions of various fabrics. Welcome to the following links to learn more!

What should you pay attention to when purchasing clothing? What are common types of fabric materials? (Part 1)



100% cotton fabrics

The scrub suit made of 100% cotton are more hygroscopic and breathable, but the cost is relatively high. They are gradually replaced by CVC or T/C blended fabrics.


CVC or T/C blended fabrics

Polyester/Cotton blended fabrics are the most common fabrics of scrub suit. If the content of polyester fiber is more than 50%, that is, the content of polyester fiber is higher than that of cotton, it is called T/C. Conversely, if the cotton content is higher than that of polyester fiber, it is called CVC (Chief Value Cotton). The most common T/C fabric on the market is T/C 65/35, which means 65% polyester + 35% cotton. In order to save costs, the composition of polyester fiber can also be increased, making T/C 70/30 or 80/20, which means that polyester fiber accounts for 70% or 80%. Although adding polyester fiber can reduce the cost, the hand feel will become worse, and it is more likely to generate static electricity, which is not suitable for use in the operating room.

TCT150 (65% Polyester + 35% Cotton, 150gsm, 1/1 plain weave) is the most popular fabrics specification in the UK market.

T/C 65/35 is the most commonly used material in most hospitals. It combines the advantages of polyester fiber and cotton. The fabric is strong and durable, and has the advantages of good air permeability and easy drying after sweat absorption, which meets the needs of the operating room. The disadvantage is that it is easy to wrinkle and not stretchable, and the touch is not as comfortable as pure cotton.

The scrub suits made of T/C material are durable and can be washed by industrial laundering machine. Because of the large amount of daily use, most hospitals outsource scrub suits from industrial laundry service provider. The ownership of scrub suit belongs to laundry service provider. They provide lease, laundry and logistics services to hospitals. Because scrub suits may be stained with blood, viruses or bacteria, laundry plant will put a small amount of chlorine or detergent during washing process, and then wash and dry the clothes at high temperatures. Basically, bacteria and viruses on clothes can be washed away, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t add antibacterial agents.


T/R blended fabrics

T/R blended fabrics are blended fabrics of polyester fiber and rayon, and the content of polyester fiber is more than 60%. In order to make the fabrics more stretchable, sometimes spandex will be added to the fabrics, which is called T/R four-way stretch fabrics (T/R spandex fabrics).

Popular fabric specification of T/R four-way stretch fabrics: 72% Polyester+21%Rayon+7%Spandex.

The T/R or T/R four-way stretch fabric enhances the comfort of the scrub suit and is suitable for medical staff who need to wear work clothes in hospitals or clinics for a long time. Although T/R is still not as good as pure cotton, it has better elasticity and less wrinkle than T/C, which saves ironing time. The disadvantage is that the price of T/R or T/R four-way elastic fabrics is relatively high, so the price of the scrub suits made of T/R is also higher than that of the T/C material, and the hospital needs to spend a higher cost to purchase.

Since the T/R four-way stretch fabric contains rayon and spandex, the recommended washing method is to turn the scrub suits inside out, and use a household washing machine to gently wash in cold. After washing, machine drying can be used, but it needs to be adjusted to low temperature and weak speed, and the drying time does not need to be too long (T/R are mostly made of chemical fibers, which have the characteristics of quick drying). In addition, according to customer needs, antibacterial agents can be added to the post-treatment process of the fabric to protect the medical staff. The antibacterial agent under the mild washing conditions is not easy to be washed off.


The style of Scrub suit


In addition to more and more comfortable materials to choose from, the style of scrub suits has also changed greatly in recent years. In the past, scrub suits were more used in operation room. In order to reduce costs and withstand the industrial washing conditions of high-temperature and chlorine bleaching, scrub suits cannot have too many changes like fashion clothes. But now there are more and more styles on the market. The following highlights a few points to consider when purchasing.

(1) Neckline: The most common neckline styles of scrub suits are V-Neck or U-Neck. These designs are to make the neckline have a larger space, which is convenient for medical staff to put on and take off. In recent years, the design of scrub suits has become more fashionable. In addition to V-neck, kimono-style Mock Wrap Tops are often seen. The best thing about the mock-wrap design is that it makes your figure look nice but keep you professional. It hides the fat around the waist that you don’t want to be seen, but it also make the curves of your body obvious. Usually, the laundry plants will use different colors of fabrics to trim the neckline, so that the clothes can be quickly sorted by size after washing.

V-Neck scrub suit


Mock Wrap Top

<Mock Wrap Top>

(2) Pockets: The most common pockets are the pockets on the front of the chest (chest pockets), the large pockets on both sides of the hem or the pockets on the waist (patch pockets), the oblique pockets on both sides of the trousers, and the rear pockets of the trousers. There are also other pocket designs such as on both sides of the sleeves, pocket flaps, or pencil pockets, all of which can be selected or customized according to different requirements.

(3) Buttons/Zippers/Drawstrings: The scrub suits in the operating room usually do not have buttons or zippers for the convenience of putting on and taking off and preventing them from falling off. However, in low-risk departments outside the operating room (such as nursing homes), buttons or zippers can also be designed on the shoulders or pockets of the scrub top, showing a more unusual neat image. The drawstring design of the trousers can not only adjust the tightness, but also distinguish the size of the trousers by different colors, which is convenient for the laundry plant to quickly sort the size after washing the clothes. Drawstring can be made of flat webbing, knit webbing or poly cord.

(4) Color: As mentioned in the previous paragraph, in addition to operating room, some low-risk nursing homes or clinics are gradually replacing work clothes or nurse clothes with scrub suits. Some children’s hospitals or pediatric departments even use cute printing patterns to bring a pleasant feeling to children’s patients. The department of obstetrics and gynecology also often chooses pink as the color of the uniform, creating a warm and joyful atmosphere. Therefore, choosing the appropriate color according to the departments also helps to identify and establish the image.


Printed scrub suit

<Printed scrub suit can bring a pleasant feeling to children>


Colored scrub suit

<Colored scrub suit helps to identify the department>


No matter which material, specification, size, color or style you prefer, ILLUME will provide the best quality of products according to your needs. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!



Scrubs evolution: Medical apparel then and now




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