How Do I Choose a Lab Coat?

For professionals working in the scientific and medical field, lab coats are used not only to follow the workplace dress code, but to protect themselves as well. Protective and comfortable clothing allows lab workers to remain alert, agile, and responsive throughout their day. In this Sonic Supply blog, we’re going to explore the world of lab coats and unpack all of the information to ensure that you find your perfect laboratory jacket.

Determining Your Lab Coat Size

There are three important factors that go into choosing the optimal lab coat: Body Fit, Coat Length and Sleeve Length.

Body Fit

Making sure you choose a lab coat that fits your body type is not only for appearance, but for comfort as well. It’s important that your arms are unencumbered, that the lab coat isn’t tight or clings to your hips and torso, and that the buttons all close properly.

Coat Length

After tailoring a lab coat to your body type, the next step is determining the length of your lab coat. Ideally, a lab coat should hang just above the knees.

Sleeve Length

With your arms fully extended, the sleeves should stop just before or at your wrists and hang at your sides when your arms aren’t extended. Try moving or waving your arms in different directions to test the lab coat’s flexibility and ensure the length is appropriate.

When Should You Wear a Lab Coat?

Short answer? Any time you’re in a lab.

Not wearing one can jeopardize the integrity of the work being performed as well as the health and safety of the individuals involved in them. Lab coats must be worn at all times in a clinical laboratory setting in order to provide full protection and additional benefits, including:

  • Barrier Protection: Shields the user from direct contact with hazardous materials
  • Protective Material: Good lab coats are made from quality fabric, containing polyester, cotton, or a polycotton blend. See below for additional details.
  • Cross Contamination: It’s critical to keep your lab coat in the lab to prevent any cross contamination into other areas.
  • Clothing Protection: Protects your regular clothing from dust, chemicals, debris or dirt.
  • Fast Removal: In an emergency, a lab coat can be removed much more quickly than street clothes, especially during a fire, major spill or other emergency.
  • Professionalism: A clean, well-fit lab coat provides an air of professionalism and high standards for the lab.

What’s the Best Material for Lab Coats?

The best material or fabric for a lab coat depends on the environment and intended use. They can range from a multitude of different fabrics and blends, each with their own specific purposes and resistances.

100% Cotton

Lab coats made of 100% cotton are primarily used in clinical settings and laboratories where biological materials are present. The fabric provides exceptional comfort and breathability. The lightweight material also offers splash protection from chemicals and liquids.

Please note, however, that unless specifically treated, cotton lab coats are not flame resistant.

Polyester

Additional options for lab coats include polyester fabric, which gives a bit of liquid resistance and makes the coat easier to wash and dry, as well as being cheaper to produce than cotton. Polyester lab coats should not be used in settings near open flames, pyrophoric chemicals or other flammable hazards.

Polyester-Cotton (Polycotton)

Most lab coats are made of a blend of polyester and cotton. These fabric blends offer some splash and chemical resistance and, while not as soft as cotton, are good for use in settings where there are no open flames.

They’re also the most cost effective and durable material when frequent washing is required.

More Specialized, Less Common Lab Coat Fabrics

  • Nylon: lightweight, strong and holds up well to the elements, some protection against liquids (not as much as polyester).
  • Modacrylic: synthetic material offering protection against chemicals, solvents and natural flame resistance.
  • Rayon: made of wood pulp, budget friendly and similar to cotton except it’s neither fire resistant nor very effective against acids.
  • Polypropylene: used mostly in disposable lab coats, it’s lightweight, breathable and highly resistant to absorbing moisture. Easily flammable and degrades quickly.
  • Nomex: more expensive choice, it’s best in an area with extreme fire hazards, electrical and pyrophoric material. Very flame resistant.

Choosing the Best Lab Coat for You

Whether you’re looking for a traditional poly-cotton blend lab coat or a 100% cotton, stylish tie-dye colored coat, Sonic Supply offers a high-quality selection from United Scientific Supplies, along with chemical resistant PVC coated aprons. All of our lab coats come in various sizes from small to extra large, and feature one upper left breast pocket, two roomy lower pockets, side slit openings, and a sewn-down back belt.

Questions or comments? Contact us today with any questions, or give us a call at 1-844-977-6642.

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