What Material Are Scrubs Made of? (How Much Fabric and Tips)

Scrubs are not normal clothes. Medical scrubs may have to be registered with a federal agency if you are making them for someone else. 3 agencies in the US govern the construction of medical scrubs which is why it may be better to buy them than to make them.

What material are scrubs made of? Medical scrubs can be made from 4 fabric types: Polyester, cotton, spandex, rayon, and a blend of materials. The last option tries to put all the positives of those fabrics together so you have the best scrubs possible. They are probably more durable as a blended fabric.

To learn more about scrubs and what they are made from just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know about if you want to save some money and make your own. Take a few minutes and get up to speed on this important topic.

Tip 1: If you are making scrubs for non-medical use then you are free to do whatever you like within the realm of reason. However, if you are making them for medical duty the scrubs have to provide a degree of protection

Tip 2: Polyester is usually blended with spandex of cotton so that the scrubs are more comfortable as well as durable. The spandex blend provides more stretch when you need it.

What Fabric are Scrubs Made out of?


History tells us that before the 20th-century surgeons used to wear black coats that often were bloodstained. Then after the turn of the century, medical scrubs were made from muslin and that was a good material until it got wet.

To solve that problem rubber was added to the muslin but the scrubs were not that comfortable to wear. After years of trying four fabrics were selected for scrub materials. These four, already mentioned above, are cotton, polyester, rayon, and spandex.

Then the makers of scrubs usually blend two to three of those fibers to make sure the wearer gets the best protection possible. These blends also help in providing good levels of comfort, durability as well as making cleaning a lot easier.

However, nothing is perfect and depending on what region of the world you live in, there can be some negative aspects to scrubs made from these materials. if you live in Asia where it is nice and humid, scrubs without cotton fibers can be very uncomfortable to wear.

If you are making your own set, check your region of the country to make sure you get the right 100% fabric or the right blend of fibers to maintain your comfort.

Tip 3: If you plan on using 100% cotton material then you will get breathability, easy-care, durability, and anti-static properties. They may be comfortable but they won’t stretch or resists wrinkles

What Weight Fabric for Scrubs

The weight of the fabric you use will depend on its purpose. For example, if you are a surgical nurse, etc., then you will want to have disposable scrubs made from a lightweight material.

If you want protection from chemicals and fluids, then you need scrubs that are made from a heavyweight fabric that has a high polyester count. For protection from the cold, dry winter weather you are looking at using a heavyweight cotton-based fabric with little polyester or rayon included.

For summer heat or humid regions of the country polyester fibers blended with cotton, rayon or even viscose are ideal. Those are for those people working in the medical field. The rules for making medical scrubs are strict and are set by the FDA, the AAMI & the ANSI.

Most people opt to buy their scrubs than make them when they are in the medical profession. Medical scrubs are classified as a Class 2 medical device and that goes for hospital versions as well as surgical options.

Tip 4: Like any clothing item you make yourself, you need to take accurate measurements of yours or someone else’s body, then go and select a pattern. There are many different patterns for scrubs available

Antimicrobial Fabric for Scrubs


Some scrubs are made from antimicrobial materials. One version is a set of scrubs made from nylon and silver ion. The silver ion is a chemical level additive that destroys the walls of the bacteria’s cells. Once destroyed, the bacteria cannot survive.

However, that may be too sophisticated material for many home sewers and you can get top-level protection from using polyester. Since spandex is made from some of the same chemicals and petroleum products like polyester, you should have the same amount of protection with those fibers.

But polyester is the fabric with the best level of protection against germs and other bacteria. But there are other fabrics like rayon and cotton that can be given a coating that helps those fibers fend off germs and bacteria.

Keep in mind that these fabrics are not 100% effective and should only be considered another level of protection against germs, etc.

Tip 5: When making scrubs you have to be particularly cautious when it comes to the sleeves. You do not want them too tight nor do you want them to tear off easily. You can be generous with the size but make sure to securely sew them into place. There are different sleeve designs to choose from.

Fabric Suitable for Hospital Scrubs

Most hospital scrubs are made from the same 4 materials already mentioned. The style, thickness, the level of protection you get depends on where you are working in the hospital.

Lightweight cotton is ideal for surgical scrubs as you only want them for one use. After that time in the operating room, you want to be able to toss them away and do a new set for the next surgery.

When you are working in a humid region of the country or world, then a good polyester cotton blend brings you both moisture-wicking as well as breathability. This type of blend should also include a little spandex for stretch, plus, the material should also be lightweight.

Winter season means going with a heavy-weight cotton material with a little polyester thrown in. You will want warmth as well as a little durability while avoiding any static electricity build-up.

Then if you are working around dangerous chemicals or lots of body fluids, you want a heavyweight polyester fabric. The polyester will protect you against germs, etc., as well as resist stains.

Tip 6: Making scrubs is easy once you have picked the pattern. Picking the pattern will be the most difficult part of the process as scrubs go together like any other clothing item you make at home.

What is The Best Fabric to Use for Scrubs?

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If you want comfort as well as breathability then you should choose cotton. But cotton is not ideal for all situations. That is why it is hard to pick the best material for hospital scrubs.

Each fabric option has its own pros and cons which help make it ideal for different situations you work in. The blended fabrics are best when the temperatures and the humidity levels begin to rise.

While cotton is also good when you want to stay warm when the temperature and humidity levels go in the opposite direction. The best fabric would probably be a blend of fibers. That way you get the best of all the fibers and have the utmost protection that fabrics can provide.

Ideally, you would have to test the different fabrics to see which one provides you with the comfort and protection you need. Fit the fabrics to your working conditions to get the best option.

Tip 7: Use the over-stitching method to get the most durability in your scrubs. Once you are done don’t forget to try them on to make sure you have the right fit and comfort level.

Where to Buy Fabric to Make Scrubs

Since all these fabric options are readily available and already very popular, you should have no trouble finding them. There are plenty of outlets that deal with medical materials that should have the right fabrics to make your own.

These are private companies and not as big as Etsy or Amazon so do not expect to get a low price for the amount of material you need. Amazon will have lots of patterns to choose from so you can make your own unique style while still qualifying for the medical dress code.

If by chance you cannot find the material to make your own that is not going to be a problem as you can always buy pre-made scrubs that meet all the agencies’ guidelines.

That is the biggest concern when you want to make your own set. There are strict guidelines to meet and if you don’t you may have wasted your money. Color will play an important part as there is a limited amount of colors and designs you can go with.

Tip 8: Avoid using white-colored fabrics as well. It seems that the white material can cause a green ghosting effect. Green or blue-colored fabrics avoid this phenomenon.

Finding Scrub Fabric by the Yard


When you go searching for scrub fabrics it should be cheaper to buy them by the yard. This means you get to take a trip to your favorite fabric outlets and see what type of selection they have.

You can start by going to the locally owned shops but while they are great at customer service, their selection may be too limited. The mall department stores may also have a limited selection as they need to carry so many other fashions and products that space may be limited as well.

Then you can try the big box stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, etc., to see what selection they may have. Their prices should be cheaper if they have the material in stock.

Next up would be Hobby Lobby, Michael’s and JoAnn’s, or even Hancock’s to see if they have the material in the color and design you want. Finally, you have online outlets like Amazon and the many fabric stores that seem to carry an endless supply of materials for you to choose from.

Finding the material at the price you want to pay may end up being a little treasure hunt.

How Much Fabric do You Need for Scrubs? (How Many Yards)

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There are a lot of factors to consider when you are ready to purchase your fabrics to make your own set of scrubs. Your size or the wearer’s size is one factor that influences how many yards you buy.

Then the design that you pick will influence the material amount you need. Kimono sleeve types take less material than set-in sleeve types. A safe number would be 3 to 4 yards of material but you will have to play around with that figure because of the many factors involved.

If you are tall and need extra material, you may have to go as much as 5 yards while if you are on the short side of things, you may only need 3. Scrub tops usually only need 1 to 2 yards to make those while the pants may need as much as 2 yards or more.

Some Final Words

Making scrubs is basically the same as making any other clothing item. You need a pattern, accurate measurements, and the right materials. As you can see the purpose of the scrubs will help guide you in fabric selection.

The hardest step will be picking the pattern as there are so many different ones you can choose from. Plus, they may all be very comfortable to wear once you are finished. Just make sure to meet the strict guidelines when you make them.

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