Should you wear scrubs in public?

Scrubs are an indispensable part of many healthcare practices: from nurses to vets, care home workers to dentists, scrub tops and trousers help clinicians carry out their duties in a professional, hygienic manner. 

But should you wear scrubs in public? What happens when you need to do after-work errands, like shopping or re-filling your car? Today, Moda Per Cura will confront a question commonly asked by clinicians worldwide: is it okay to wear scrubs in public? 

What are scrubs?

Scrubs are loose-fitting, lightweight garments typically worn by healthcare professionals in various clinical settings. They are designed for ease of movement, making long shifts comfortable with elastic waistbands and side vents. 

Maintaining a clean, sterile environment is paramount for patients and staff: that’s why scrubs are typically coated with antimicrobial finishes, like the garments in our Treated Collection

Scrubs commonly consist of a shirt and pants, although some variations include dresses, skirts or tunics. 

What is the purpose of wearing scrubs? 

The primary purpose of scrubs is to keep sterile environments as clean and hygienic as possible. They are made from materials that are easy to clean and disinfect, reducing the risk of carrying pathogens between patients. 

However, scrubs also help clinicians promote a professional image: patients will easily identify you as a qualified staff member and put their trust in you. 

Infection Control

As should be expected, healthcare environments are carefully controlled to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Wearing scrubs outside may expose them to external contaminants and compromise infection control protocols.

Professional Image and Public Perception

The attire of healthcare professionals contributes to their professional image and public perception. In a hospital or clinical setting, scrubs make staff easily identifiable in the event of an emergency. 

However, wearing scrubs outside the workplace may blur the line between professional and personal life.

What is the general guidance on wearing NHS uniforms outside of work?

The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom provides guidance on wearing uniforms at work. 

While specific policies may vary across NHS trusts, the general guidance recommends changing into and out of uniforms on-site to prevent potential contamination. This guidance aims to uphold infection control standards and maintain a professional image for NHS staff.

NHS trusts typically have their own uniform policies outlining the appropriate use and care of uniforms. 

These policies often discourage wearing scrubs outside of healthcare settings, as it may lead to confusion or misrepresentation. The policies prioritise patient safety, infection control, and maintaining a professional appearance while on duty.

What do NHS staff wear on duty?

NHS staff typically wear: 

Scrub Tops

Our Siena Ladies Treated Scrub Top in Navy is the perfect garment for NHS staff, vets, dentists and care home workers alike. Scrub tops are the most common type of healthcare garment, responsible for protecting the midriff and upper body of healthcare professionals. 

Siena Ladies Treated Scrub Top in Navy

We offer both Mens Scrubs and Womens Scrubs complete with two hip pockets and additional insert pockets, an ID loop on the right shoulder and contact bar tack details on all stress points. 

Scrub Trousers 

Most NHS workers and clinicians will wear scrub trousers to ensure they feel extra comfortable during long shifts. Moda Per Cura’s Genoa Unisex Scrub Trouser in Navy has a fully elasticated waistband with a drawstring, two side pockets, and a zipped rear pocket. 


  • Can I wear my scrubs to run errands after my shift?

While it may be tempting, changing out of your scrubs before running errands or engaging in activities outside of the healthcare setting is generally advisable: this helps minimise the risk of cross-contamination. 

  • Are there any exceptions to wearing scrubs outside of work?

Some healthcare professionals may have specific circumstances or authorised settings where wearing scrubs outside work is permitted. However, it is essential to consult your specific NHS trust workplace policies and guidelines for clarity.

  • Why are scrubs so popular in the healthcare industry?

Scrubs have gained popularity in the healthcare industry due to their comfortable design, easy maintenance, and association with cleanliness. 

They allow healthcare professionals to perform their duties comfortably and maintain a hygienic environment.

  • Can wearing scrubs outside affect patient trust?

Wearing scrubs outside of work may create confusion and affect patient trust. Patients might assume that individuals wearing scrubs have medical expertise, even when they are not currently working.

  • What are some alternatives to wearing scrubs outside of work?

Athleisure wear offers a comfortable and stylish option for healthcare professionals seeking alternative attire. It combines functionality, flexibility, and fashion, allowing healthcare workers to maintain a professional appearance while off duty.

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