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Hygiene After Hospital Shift

I'm wondering how you (if you're a nurse or a student in clinicals) take care of YOUR personal hygiene after a hospital shift. Do nurses usually change out of their scrubs in hospitals, are there locker rooms available, etc.? Does anyone take any particular precautions like showering with anti-bacterial body wash afterwards? Do you always wash your hair after each shift?

Although I am absolutely going forward with pursuing a career in nursing, the potential to catch something still scares me so I am wondering how you all take precautions to protect yourselves after you are done with your shift.

Emergent, RN

Has 27 years experience.

I sometimes change after work. Really, only if you are a clinic or ER nurse are you exposed to illness more than, say, the supermarket. Probably a cashier at the store or a bank teller is exposed more, since they handle money all day and don't have hand washing easily available.

I'd say that your average hospital patient is hospitalized for not communicable problems, but for things such as cardiac, renal, COPD exacerbation. Yes, there are pts with draining wounds, MRSA, pneumonia, but they are put on isolation, unlike the general population out there at the store, church, school.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 15 years experience. Specializes in OR, education.

I change before and after every shift, but that is because I work in the OR and am required to wear hospital provided and laundered scrubs. Really, as long as you are following infection control standards, you shouldn't be exposing yourself to anything that you won't find out in the community. And remember, that person who is in isolation in the hospital isn't isolated when he/she goes home. That person using the ATM keypad or shopping cart handle right before you might be that same patient in isolation for MRSA or VRE or what have you.

NurseGirl525, ASN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

If you have a patient with anything major that can be transmitted, they will be on precautions. I know most nurses have an extra pair of scrubs in case they get blood or something on them. At my clinicals the other day in the nursing home they had a case of bedbugs the week before. They had been treated twice for it but we still had to put all of our personal belonging in a plastic bag, get rid of the air, and tie it up. Then before leaving we sprayed our scrubs and shoes with a 91% alcohol solution as a precaution. I always no matter what job I have had come home and take a shower. Even at 2 in the morning in retail I came home and took a hot shower. I always felt icky after a long shift.


Specializes in Cardiac, ER, Pediatrics, Corrections.

I keep a spare set of scrubs in my car in case I get splattered in who knows what. I change when I get home and shower right after. I may run to the store but I try to get out of them when I can. I guess it depends what kind of nursing you are in. I stay relatively clean working in the prison.

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

I have been in this business for almost 20 years and have never caught anything at work. Unless your immune system is weak, use handwashing, and a little common sense you will be fine.

Most people are in hospital for things like heart failure, cancer and diabetes. They are not any more "germy" than anyone else out in the community.

Hygiene for me means a shower when I get home and scrubs put in the laundry hamper.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Has 14 years experience. Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

I take no special precautions. I do not change my scrubs or shoes prior to going home. I do not bathe in antibacterial soap. You are more likely to get sick in your community than you ever will at a hospital.

Our communities are filled with people who have MRSA, ESBL, c-diff, VRE, TB, and other microbes. These people touch the same shopping carts that you and I use. They punch the same buttons at the ATM machine that you and I touch. They're the ones in line behind you with the hacking coughs. They're the ones who toilet themselves without washing their hands before proceeding to pick over fresh fruits and veggies in the produce section of the supermarket.

The typical healthcare setting is cleaner and more sanitary than the average person's home because it is sanitized with powerful cleaning agents by EVS staff (a.k.a. housekeeping) one or more times per day. The typical homeowner or apartment dweller usually does not sanitize their living quarters on a daily basis.

My point is to not be so darned afraid of germs. Embrace some of them. Each exposure strengthens your immunity.

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Has 34 years experience. Specializes in Gerontology.

Germs are all around us. You are more likely to contract MRSA at Wallmart than through work.


Has 8+ years experience. Specializes in ER/Emergency Behavioral Health....

I work in an ER and it really depends which part of the ER I am in.

We have an emergency behavioral health area where I just sit at a desk and chart while patients sleep (I work night shift). I don't even break a sweat. If I'm in the main ER I usually shower as soon as I get home; not so much because of germs, but because I feel icky and sweaty after.

I get home, put my shoes in the garage, put my scrubs in the hamper, and usually just wash my hands and face and go to bed exhausted. I wear full protective gear at work for the contagious patients and wash my hands often all the time. I have found that I am much more likely to catch the cold or stomach bug that one of my children came down with first than to catch anything from work. I agree that MRSA and other bad bugs are in our community. I am very careful at work to prevent it from spreading patient to patient. It probably spreads more easily at the grocery store.

I come home, drop my shoes outside the door, and wash my hands, brush my teeth, and collapse into bed by 9 am. I shower before work when I wake up that evening.

cayenne06, MSN, CNM

Has 10 years experience. Specializes in Reproductive & Public Health.

I was WAY more concerned with my own hygiene when I used to do private duty nursing. Some of the homes I was in, omg.

I changed before leaving the nh, standing on newspaper, pulling of my scrubs inside-out even. I felt *filthy* after a shift, just *icky*. I wore my shoes out to my vehicle, but changed into 'home' footwear out in the parking lot, and kept my nh shoes in a repurposed cat litter pan in the vehicle, and commonly Lysoled and Cavi-wiped them. They never went into my home. Kept the winter coat in the cellar. Washed my scrubs in Pine-sol and hot water, dried them on 'sanitize'. Walked inside my door and straight to the shower, no matter what time it was.

In my factory job I enjoy nowadays, I don't feel anywhere near as dirty.

loriangel14, RN

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

Nope. I go home and take off my scubs, jammies on and into bed. i shower when I get up.


Has 25+ years experience. Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty.

The only thing I "caught" at the hospital was a night of continuous barfing from some cafeteria creamed spinach that went bad. This generally shocks many people, but we rarely wore gloves at all in the olden days. We washed our hands before and after any contact with the patient.

When I worked in a clinic I was exposed to every yuck rhinovirus going around the workplace, the schoolyard and parts unknown to me the patient may have gone....guess I developed some kick*ss immunity there.

And cayenne is right about private duty homes (I personally draw the line at bugs) but what continually amazes me is that some of my clients live in these environments, some have visible grime on their vent circuit components and all sorts of horrors yet do not have high rates of upper respiratory infections.

I shower once or twice a day and wash my hair every day and change clothes when I get home but those things I do for my comfort and as a "close out the workday" ritual.

I really wouldn't worry if you follow appropriate precautions OP! Best wishes!

JBudd, MSN

Has 39 years experience. Specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

Nope. I go home and take off my scubs, jammies on and into bed. i shower when I get up.

Same here. Minus the jammies :cat:

That Guy, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Has 6 years experience. Specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab.

The only time I shower is if I had a particularly gooey night. Spit, pee, vomit, blood, brain, whatever. I wear the proper PPE but sometimes it just gets to you having someones snot running down your forearm when you least expect it

The only time I've showed right away after work was when we were in outbreak for norovirus in the nursing home. I felt so gross afterwards and I really did not want to get sick as well.


Has 10 years experience. Specializes in Emergency room, Neurosurgery ICU.

I show before I go in to work, always have. I wash my hair 3xs a week. I work nights then come home wash face, hands and feet (I've got a thing about cleaning my feet before I go to sleep) then grab some "breakfast" and go to sleep.

I NEVER use antibacterial soap except at work! Here are the reasons why:

Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap | Science | Smithsonian

FDA Taking Closer Look at 'Antibacterial' Soap


Has 12 years experience. Specializes in Surgical, quality,management.

As long as you tie your hair back there is no need to wash it any more than usual. I chuck my scrubs in the hamper and jammies on or if I am feeling keen gym gear! The only time I rush for the shower is usually if as the charge nurse I have escorted to IR and spent 4 hours in lead and a sterile gown. Sweaty Betty!!!


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