Custom Embroidery for Your Lab Coats

It’s been a while since I have updated my blog, I almost forgot about it since I have been working a lot out of the office and more on field work, until I realized that it has been almost six months since my last post.

Readers know that I have posted about what a lab coat is, the people who wear lab coats and lab jackets, the different lab coat styles, and the different fabrics used to make these labcoats. But what I have not done is post if its okay to accessorized or customize your lab coats.

The best way to customize lab coats is to have it personalized through embroidery. What you can do I have your name and designation or the hospital logo embroidered on it. Some hospitals require it and they themselves have their medical staff’s lab coats customized while other want to make their beautiful and professional looking lab coats more unique. That is when they have it personalized.

Before you order your lab coat online make sure you look for other promos, deals and discounts that you can get. One of these stores where you can buy uniforms will most likely offer low-cost embroidery service. Custom embroidery or monogramming adds a certain distinct and professional look to your lab coat and even to the scrubs that health care professionals wear. If you want to have your logo embroidered then you will have to send in your artwork so the online clothing stores can have it digitized – the process by which your artwork is converted to stitches so that your logo can then be embroidered.

If you just want your name and designation to be embroidered then all you have to do is choose the font, color of the thread and embroidery location. Depending on the online store from where you buy uniforms, lab coats for your clinics or for your salon uniforms, the number of fonts can of course vary. The fonts commonly used for embroidery are:

Classic Fonts: Tahoma, Times Roman, Veranda, Script, Formal Script, Helvetica Bold, Agatha, Pulse Font, Good Times are just some of these fonts.

Ancient Fonts: Old Block, Gothic Script, Oriental Script, Chancery, Handy Script, Royale, Old English, Brush Script, Cayman, Castle, to name a few.

Playful and Fun Fonts: Kids Time, Catla, Book Script, Border Block 2, Schoolbook, Viking Script, Victorian, Typewriter, Mandarin, and so many more.

Here are samples of some logo and name embroidery I saw from DigitPlace - a website that offers digitizing services.

Image Source: DigitPlace

The Different Fabrics For Lab Coats

The type of lab coat you choose depends on the type of lab you work in. Medical professionals used lab coats as protection for the street clothes or medical uniforms they wear while doing rounds and consultations so a comfortable and stylish lab coat will do. On the other hand, those who work with infectious materials or dangerous chemical need a higher level of protection. In this case they type of lab coat matters and for this one has to take a look at the fabric being used for the lab coat.

Looking for the right kind of materials being used for your lab coat is critical. Most often companies provide their employees the lab coats since they usually are expensive and they also provide laundry service especially in the case of those who work with chemicals.

Cotton – this is the most common type used for medical lab coats simply because the material is lightweight, comfortable and fairly durable. Usually, lab coats can be poplin or twill weave and made from cotton or a cotton/polyester blend. This is the ability to combine the best qualities of the fabric at a lower price. Cotton is breathable but wrinkles easily so it is often combined with polyester and makes it easy to wash and wear. Poplin is often used in combination with softer and heavier grades of cotton that results to a product that does not wrinkle easily and is water and stain resistant. Of course, it can also be treated with stain release finish so that stains, like blood, can easily be removed.

Lab coats made of a higher quality of the fabric such as 100% cotton is more expensive but some people are choosing 100% cotton because it is softer and cooler fiber absorbs and releases perspiration quickly and thus allowing the fabric to "breathe". Cotton lab coats can also be treated with flame-resistant features or enhance the flame-resistance but this quality can dissipate with frequent washing/laundry. It can also be degraded by acid and so are not used in research labs or by those who work with chemicals.

Samples of 100% cotton and cotton/poly blend lab coats, these are our most popular fabrics: cotton/polyester, wash and wear, maintenance free, stays bright white, non-shrink:

  •  100% cotton medium weight (5 ounce) knee length pure cotton twill. This is the traditional medical cotton lab coat. Requires ironing and may shrink slightly.
  • Bright white 65% polyester/35% cotton twill. The fabric has minimal shrinkage, thus no ironing is required.
  • 60% cotton / 40% polyester. Light weight shirting fabric with a fine herringbone-weave, a soft, cool comfortable feel and elegant draping. Wash and wear fabric.
  • 100% cotton heavyweight fluid-resistant twill. Wash and wear, the fabric has a fluid repellant finish, thus, water just runs off the coat. The surface has a soft brushed texture and does not require ironing.

Polyester makes the lab coat resistant to liquid spills; cotton makes them cool and comfortable.

Modacrylic – fibers are soft, comfortable, and resilient and lab coats made from this fiber do not wrinkle easily. It is the type which has soil release properties so it is easy to care for. It is highly resistant to rips and tears but less so than polyamide fibers; abrasion-resistant but less so than nylon or polyester and highly-resistant to most chemicals and solvents. In direct flame, modarylic fabric shrinks to resist flame penetration though it will not melt or drip. It is self-extinguishing and rapidly dissipates when source of ignition is removed.

Nylon – are made from nylon fabric which makes it lightweight, with incredible tensile strength, durability, and resistance to damage but not water absorbent. It can be dyed easily so it can be available in a wide array of colors.Because of the properties of nylon, lab coats made out of nylon melt when heated and will usually require an application of flame retardant.

Rayon – are fairly durable but can be easily degraded by acids.

Medical professionals are not the only ones who wear lab coats. Those who work in other industries like manufacturing, food processing and other laboratories have to wear industrial lab coats which are designed with heavy fabric like a thick blend of polyester viscose. Organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have set industry standards so that there are now three levels of protection set in place.

  • Level A is used for the highest level protection and designed for splashing chemicals, exposure to unexpected vapors and gases, and anything that can be absorbed through the skin.
  • Level B should be used when there is a need for respiratory protection.
  • Level C is used with liquids that can splash, but not hurt the skin.

If you work in a biohazard lab, you may wear a disposable lab coat that is made from polypropylene. Some lab coats have carbon fibers added which increases their ability to repel fluids. Lab coats used in the automotive industry makes sure these lab coats can resist stains from grease. These are also treated with flame retardant to protect user from burns if working where heat and fire is predominant. Chemical resistant lab coats are made from cotton twill and treated with ammonia or made from the unique fabric or fire retardant material like Nomex. When exposed to heat, this fabric provides a unique thermal protection because it thickens and carbonizes.
 Red Kap Unisex Nomex IIIA Flame Resistant Lab Coat

Materials such as Tyvek are also used for special applications that have a high concentration of dust and dirt particles. Many professionals use this type of lab coat if dealing with substances such as asbestos, led dust and radioactive substances. Because Tyvek is such a tightly woven material, it keeps these particulars from getting through to the street clothing beneath.

Like I said, usually large companies provide lab coats and its laundry service for their employees especially because branded ones are really expensive. In case though you have to get your own, make sure you know what you will be working with and research what type of fabrics works best for you and your protection needs.

What Are The Different Styles of Lab Coats?

Lab coats, like all other clothing, have also evolved. It might have started as a way for doctors to regain respect and trust as well as serve into the transition to a more scientific approach to medicine but has become an icon of the profession. If you ask people how they would know someone is a doctor and they will always say because of the white lab coat and stethoscope hanging around their neck. It has become a tradition for medical doctors to wear a white lab coat at work. But, while the length of the lab coat was said to have been a symbolism of the seniority of the wearer, the length of the lab coats these days is no longer a symbol of seniority. In fact, there are now different styles of lab coats according to its length. But then again, there are other styles of lab coats according to the number of pockets, the kind of closure or buttons, the fabric or weave as well as the different belt options available.

Not all lab coats are the same. And not every lab coat is created equally. Basically, the type of lab coat one chooses is dependent on the comfort as well as specific features the job he is in requires. Aside from the style and comfort, some important aspects that are put into consideration are stain resistance, wrinkle resistance, pockets and opening to access trouser pockets.

To see the difference, here are some examples of lab coats:

Full-length or Knee-length or Long Lab Coats – These are the lab coats which has length that ranges from 36inches to 42 inches. Usually, it reaches up to the knee of the person wearing it.

Unisex CornerStone 41.5 inch Full Length Professional Lab Coat
 Landau Classic 42 Inch Full Length Mens Medical Lab Coat
Short Length – These are the lab coats which range from 28 inches to 35 inches in length or thigh length.

Barco Uniform 31 inch Short Unisex Medical Lab Coat
Barco Uniform 31 inch Medical Consultation Men Medical Lab Coat
There are cases when lab coats are also identified as Tall, this is the case when there is 2 inches added to the length as well as the sleeve length to accommodate those who are tall with long arms.

Consultation Coats – These are the lab coats more often used by medical doctors during consultations, looks more like normal coats. Women lab coats are styled differently these days to appear more feminine and stylish than the classic white lab coat.

 Adar Women 30 inch Princess Cut Consultation Medical Lab Coat
Landau 30.5 inch White Poplin Men Consultation Medical Lab Coat
Lab Jackets – These are the lab coats, usually short, styled and fitted just like a blazer or a sports coat. These lab jackets make use of zippers as closures. 

 Men Landau 31 inch Zipper Front Professional Lab Jacket
Landau Women 26 inch Lab Jacket with Zipper

Some blazer style lab coats:

Landau Women 29.5 inch Blazer Style Medical Lab Coat
Cherokee Ladies Twill Blazer Style Lab Coat - 28"
Fitted Lab Coats or Fashion Lab Coats – These are lab coats that have slimmer fit, most of the time with back belts or princess seams to give a more feminine fit. Some are made to cut low and drape nicely. 

Landau Women 39 inch Medical Lab Coat
Some lab coats are made for men while others are strictly for women, but still there are those which can be used by both man and women. Some does not even look like a lab jacket or lab coat because of the cut or style. Maybe you would even be surprised to see a short sleeve lab coat or a ¾ sleeve lab coat. Usually, short sleeved lab coats are used where protection from substances such as acid is not necessary. This makes washing forearms really easier, like what microbiologists often do at work. There are also cases when cuffed sleeve is important or buttons at the end of the sleeves to secure it so it does not hang over beakers of chemicals.

Cherokee Women Knit Cuffs 32 Inch Short Medical Lab Coat
Adar Uniform 30 inch Short Sleeve Women Twill Consultation Coat
Still, there are some lab coats that are uber-fashionable, they don't look like a typical lab coat. On the other hand, even doctors and nurses would love to look their best, whether in their lab coats or in their scrub uniforms, so it is not a surprise that new styles keep cropping up.  Lab coats are no longer just white, lab coats are being made in colors, too, maybe because white lab coats are not that applicable to them or their work.

Trench coat style lab coat from Landau
Unisex Colored 40 inch Three Pocket Long Lab Coats
These are just some of the nicest lab coats I have seen in my line of work as consultant. And the thought that people want to look good as well as be comfortable wherever they may work, is one reason that drives me to do my very best at work.

Next time, let's talk about the fabrics. Btw, there are flame resistant lab coats too as well as butcher lab coats.  This made me realize that I do not think I was able to include those who work in the food processing industry as professionals who wear lab coats.

Who Normally Wears A Lab Coat?

Long before the medical doctors used white lab coats, scientists were already wearing it. The scientists wore lab coats to cover their every day street clothes when they were inside the laboratory in order to protect it from any fluids or stains their experiments might make. In the 1800’s, it was believed that scientists were more popular and respected by the people compared to the medical doctors. In order that these doctors would gain the same respect and trust the scientists have and to emphasize the transition to the scientific approach to modern medicine they also took to wearing the white lab coat. It has been said that the length of the lab coat was a symbol of seniority so the longer the lab coat was, the more prominent the doctor. However, some felt that the lab coat has become a barrier to effective communication with their patients and some have shed their white lab coats, in particular the pediatricians and psychiatrists and those in private practices.  

While more physicians continue to wear lab coats a recent study found out that while majority of patients prefer doctors to wear white coats most doctors would rather be in other clothing, like scrubs. Scrubs are the shirts and pants that we used to see on nurses, surgeons and other staff inside the operating room. The use of these cheap scrubs though has been extended outside the OR. Still, there are doctors that wear lab coats over their scrubs when doing their rounds or in consultations. And in other cases, lab coats are actually mandated by their profession or the company, and these are even provided for and care for these lab coats is done by the company assigned laundry service.

Before we go to the different types of lab coats, let us try to find out who are the professionals who wear lab coats for their work. Here are just some of the professionals that normally wear a lab coat:

  • Scientists and Research Scientists
  • Microbiologists
  • Chemists
  • Medical Practitioners:
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Lab Technicians
  • Veterinarians
  • Electronic Technicians
  • Other health care professionals

In Tunisia, teachers wear lab coats to protect their clothes from chalk while students in Argentina wear lab coat which is a symbol of learning for them. Students also wear lab coats while doing laboratory work for some of their subjects. 

What is a Lab Coat?

When I was growing up I always associated what one person wear with the kind of work they do, or should I say the other way around?

Like, if I see a man in a coverall, I would tell myself that the guy is from sanitation and waste disposal. When I see a man in a lab coat, then I knew for sure that he is definitely a doctor from the hospital. A nurse is always in white. A man in a business suit with an attaché case is a lawyer. The chef has this type of hat that is different from a baker. Well, those were just few of my perceptions then but I guess that fascination with the different apparel each type of work wear is what drove me to work with uniforms.

Over the years I realized that what I thought then is not always and dogmatically true. I mean other work or jobs also make use of coveralls such as mechanics, farm operations, chemical protection and many more. Nurses do not always wear white, these days they are allowed to use other colors. In fact their hospital scrubs are now available in different styles and colors. I even saw a medical uniform in prints that I doubted it was a uniform until I saw the patch pockets. And a medical doctor is not the only one who wears a lab coat.

A lab coat is also worn by a person who works in a laboratory and is actually considered personal protective equipment when working with chemicals and biological. Its function is to protect the skin and clothing from splatter and spills of these harmful materials. In order that the person is protected well by a lab coat, it is important to make sure that the lab coat is fully buttoned with sleeves rolled down. Most of the time, only the hands are not covered but when working with hazardous chemicals these professionals are required to don gloves. And if gloves are worn, the sleeves of the lab coat should be tucked inside the gloves. Also, when working in laboratories, most of these lab coats should also be fire-resistant. A lab coat is required when working in a lab because in case of accidents it is also easier to remove than street clothes to reduce chances of skin getting in contact with the hazardous materials.

A lab coat should only be worn inside the laboratory and should be taken off before going home or even going to other parts of the building. This is especially true when working with hazardous chemicals as this can transfer the materials or worse can contaminate other places or other people. While the lab coat is worn to ward off contamination, the lab coat itself is considered contaminated already. So this should not be included in your own laundry but usually companies provide laundry service to ensure proper care for these lab coats.

When choosing a lab coat, functionality should always be the first basis. That is if the company does not provide the lab coat for its employees.

Next…I will write on the different fabrics, different types of lab coat as well as a list of people who also wear a lab coat at work.