Laboratory coats (often abbreviated to lab coat), or medical white coats, are knee-length overcoats/smocks worn by medical professionals or laboratory technicians. The lab coat protects street clothes and also serves as a standard uniform. The garment is made from white or light-colored cotton, linen, or cotton polyester blend, allowing the lab coats to be washed at high temperature and making it easy to see if the lab coats are clean.
When used in the laboratory, they protect against accidental spills of acids, toxins, and other harmful chemicals. For actual lab use, the labcoats usually have long sleeves and are made of an absorbent material, such as cotton, so that the user can be protected from chemicals. Some lab coats have buttons at the end of the sleeves, to secure them around the wrist so that they do not hang into beakers of chemicals. Short-sleeved lab coats are worn when protection from substances such as acid is not necessary, and are favored by certain scientists, such as microbiologists, avoiding the problem of hanging sleeves altogether, combined with the ease of washing the forearms (an important consideration in microbiology).
Medical scrubs are the medical shirts and trousers or gowns worn by nurses, surgeons, midwives and other operating room personnel when "scrubbing in" for surgery. Scrub suits are designed to be simple with minimal places for dirt to hide, easy to launder, and cheap to replace if damaged or stained irreparably. The wearing of scrubs has been extended outside of surgery in many hospitals. Originally issued as replacement clothing if street clothing was contaminated, scrubs are now worn by any hospital personnel in any clean environment.
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