Nurses In Uniform: Is It Okay to Wear Scrubs In Public?


Frankly, no.

While scrubs come in different colors, styles and patterns, these are not enough reasons for you to flaunt them out of your workplace. Not only is it considered a major fashion blunder, it can actually be a hazard.

Now, before you argue, here are some good points to consider before heading out in your scrubs.

Where you’ll be going

wearing scrub suits in coffee shops
Via newsworks

If you will be going out for shopping in your scrubs, that can be considered an attention-seeking behavior. But, if you’re just going out for a quick bite or grabbing a few essential items in the grocery after work, you can consider that as being practical.

How your scrubs look

Before you actually head out, always check your scrubs. Make sure that there aren’t any stains and spots. Wearing dirty scrubs in public isn’t only gross, it can also run you the risk of spreading infections and bacteria. It can throw people off, too.

See Also: 10 Tips & Tricks To Keep Your Nursing Scrubs in Great Shape

Where you work

If you know you are handling highly contagious patients or you work in a sterile environment, don’t think twice. Only wear your scrubs in the hospital to avoid contamination. You can wear your regular clothes, change into your scrubs for work and change back to your regular clothes before leaving the hospital. This way, you’ll be able to contain the pathogens in the hospital.

As for exposure, you don’t actually have to be in direct contact with contagious patients to acquire harmful bacteria. There are pathogens you can get from the surrounding air and your own bacteria ridden hands.

isolation nurse meme

Now, before you tell off the other people you see in public wearing scrubs, keep in mind that not all who wear them are in the medical field. Anyone can buy a pair of scrubs today and just wear them for comfort and convenience.

Reasons Why People Wear Scrubs in Public

People who work in the hospital and medical field are believed to have a higher status in society. If you are seen wearing one, you’re likely to experience a boost in ego.

Apart from that, media has also conditioned people to believe that wearing scrubs to work is completely acceptable. There are TV programs that practically shows nurses and doctors wearing scrubs in public.

scrub suits depicted in tv

Wearing your scrubs is like wearing your pajamas. They are breathable and comfortable. They give you a lot of space to move around and do your job.

Because of these things, a lot of people feel tempted to just wear their scrubs when running errands after work.

Laziness is one good reason, too. Doctors and nurses spend hours in the hospital attending to their patients’ needs. At times, they are just too tired to even think of changing their clothes before heading home.

Do’s And Dont’s Of Wearing Scrubs Outside Of Work

Some people say never to wear your scrubs in public as they carry deadly bugs. Other people argue that it’s just blown out of proportions. You can wear them outside if you can just be sensible and if you can use proper judgment.


Wear scrubs if you are grabbing a cup of coffee or a snack before work. Just make sure that you won’t be wearing the same set of scrubs to the OR or when handling immunocompromised patients.

Wear your old scrubs when doing house work, like painting or cleaning. Wash and disinfect them properly before wearing them.


Avoid wearing scrubs when visiting a friend in the hospital. Apart from creating confusion, there’s also the risk of transmitting bad microbes to the patient.

Don’t wear soiled and stained scrubs.

See Also: 7 Easy Stain Removal Tips Every Nurse Needs To Know

Don’t wear your scrubs in parties, not unless it’s Halloween or a costume party. And if you’re really decided on wearing one as your costume, make sure it’s properly sanitized or you’re wearing a new pair.

scrub suits in halloween party

The Solution?

Hospitals and similar institutions should provide a clean space where nurses, students, doctors and other workers can change their clothes. Another great idea is to have a laundry service that’ll be dedicated to washing these people’s scrubs. This way, their scrubs won’t have to leave the hospital. After all, at least 44% of bacteria can remain in scrubs that are washed at home.

If those things sound too ambitious, then employees should be more responsible in looking after themselves. If you know you’ll need to go somewhere after work or even if you don’t, you should consider bringing some extra clothes with you and change into them right after your shift. And don’t forget to wash your hands before leaving, too.

In summary

Wearing scrubs is a matter of common sense and proper work ethics. If you really need to go to some place or attend an event after your shift, pack a few extra clothes and change into them. It will take some time getting used to and a lot of discipline. However, considering the dangers of wearing scrubs in public, the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences.



  1. Did you ever consider the overworked, exhausted mother? I wear scrubs in public because being 9 months pregnant, with a 5 yr old running errands after work in a 40+ hr work week, going and finding a clean outfit that actually fits me is next to impossible and a ridiculous waste of energy and time. Maybe let’s not be so judgemental.

  2. Yeah ok you tell me after 15 hours to stop and change before I drive home. Nope honey! And I do in fact wear CLEAN scrubs when I walk my dogs (and they get washed before I return to work), and after all I’ve seen as a nurse, that being a fashion blunder is the farthest thing from my mind. It is all about comfort and timeliness for me. If you’re a new nurse who wants to play fashion police, go for it.

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