There’s nothing worse than taking one of your favorite garments out of the wash to find it shrunken beyond wearability. (Unless, of course, it was too big in the first place.) As a medical worker, perhaps you’ve lived this scenario with one of your best pairs of scrubs.
Not all scrubs put fashion over function. At Jaanuu, however, we always ask ourselves how to make scrubs more flattering.
If you happen to have a pair of baggy scrubs lying around that you’re not ready to part with, this article will walk you through how to wash scrubs in a way that shrinks them. We’ll even show you a few methods—since we love giving you options!—to help you feel more confident and comfortable on the job to put your best foot forward in caring for your patients.
How to make scrubs fit better
The easiest way to make your scrubs fit better? Start by purchasing great-fitting scrubs in the first place, scrubs that make you look and feel good. We can help with that because getting you into scrubs that simply fit and feel right is the name of our game.
Let’s get to an ever-important concern: Are scrubs supposed to be baggy? While good scrubs can be comfortable, they shouldn’t feel like that old pair of sweats you love to curl up in while watching “Grey’s Anatomy.” Great scrubs should feel like performance wear, giving you a secure fit at the waist and mobility.
What can I do if my scrubs are too big?
If you’re stuck with a pair of oversized scrubs that you can’t return, or your hospital has issued you a set that just doesn’t fit right, you can (carefully) try to shrink them to fit your body. Below, we’ll go through a few easy methods of shrinking scrubs. Keep in mind that results aren’t guaranteed. The only way to ensure your scrubs have a for-sure perfect fit? Again, buy them that way! We know that’s often easier said than done when shopping online. We try to make it as easy as possible with our Jaanuu fit guide to help you select the style and size of scrubs that best suits you.
How to shrink scrubs in the washing machine
Do scrubs shrink in the wash? The short answer is “yes.” But there’s a trick.
The key to shrinking fabric in the washer and dryer is using high temperatures. Depending on the type of fabric, the higher the heat in the wash and dry cycle, the more the fabric will shrink. The fibers of many fabric types naturally stretch out with time and wear, but when you wash them in hot water and dry them in high heat, the process usually reduces these fibers back to their original size.
Before you try to shrink your scrubs in hot water, think about how much smaller you want them to be. If you don’t want them to shrink that much, don’t use the hottest setting and opt for medium heat instead. And remember, you can always continue to shrink the fabric in the dryer after washing, so you may want to start small and go big. (Well, technically, start big and go small, but you get the idea).
How to shrink scrubs in the dryer
Can you put scrubs in the dryer? If you plan to shrink them, go for it. Otherwise, read the label. You should be able to dry scrubs without shrinking them.
If you want to reduce your scrubs’ size, the same logic applies to the dryer as the washer. You can use high heat to shrink the fabric fibers in the fabric. But, before throwing your scrubs (even your least favorites) into the dryer, check the fabric’s composition. Is it cotton, polyester or a blend of both? Will polyester shrink in the dryer, you ask? Some materials, like polyester blends, will fare better in a medium setting. Many scrubs on the market use this material. You may have some luck with blends, but polyester is notoriously hard to shrink, so see our tips below. Cotton scrubs, however, can endure more heat. Go as high as the fabric will allow.
How to shrink scrubs with an iron
With this method, skip the dryer, and right after washing your scrubs, take them out of the machine and place them on an ironing board. It’s important to do this quickly so that the fabric doesn’t air-dry in the machine. The idea is to iron the scrubs while wet.
Next, begin to iron the fabric. You may want to protect your scrubs by putting a piece of thin, dry cloth between them and the hot iron. Continue ironing until the scrubs are dry (and smaller). The bonus? You’ll remove wrinkles from the fabric while you’re at it.
How to shrink scrubs in boiling water
This method is as easy as it sounds. You just need to make sure to perform it with care. Fill a heat-resistant bucket with boiling water or boil the water directly in an old pot you’re not worried about damaging. Then carefully put the scrubs in the water (we recommend using tongs and even gloves) and let the fabric soak for approximately 15 minutes before removing the scrubs from the water.
How do you dry scrubs you’ve just boiled? You have a few options: You can let the fabric air dry or shrink it more with the iron or dryer methods shown above.
More tips for modifying your scrubs
- Wash and dry your scrubs inside-out: Turning your scrubs inside-out will help protect the color against harsh washing and drying techniques.
- Hire a tailor: A trusted professional should know your scrubs’ perfect fit. It could be as simple as hemming the scrub pants or taking in the top. You’d do the same for a shirt or dress you love, so why not apply the same treatment to the clothing you spend long shifts in?
- Don’t get frustrated: Many scrubs are made of polyester or polyester blends, which isn’t the easiest material to shrink. If none of the heat-based methods above work for your polyester scrubs, consider trading outfits with a coworker with a different body type. Think of it as an opportunity to treat yourself to a new pair of scrubs that fit you perfectly right from the start.
At Jaanuu, we built our company around the belief that looking and feeling good at work is important. That’s why our high-performance, high-quality scrubs are designed to fit you to a tee — so there’s no need to worry about shrinking them. It’s just one of the many ways we’re committed to giving you the resources you need to succeed on the job.