Which lab coat is best?
A well-designed lab coat is a classic accessory for scientists and medical professionals, the quintessential symbol of genius in popular culture. More importantly, lab coats are useful when working with dangerous substances, providing an extra layer of protection for their wearers against spills or splashes.
The NY Threads Professional Lab Coat for Men blends a stylish design with a decent level of emergency protection against chemical accidents; other lab coat products offer better protection against specific hazards by virtue of their designs and materials.
What to know before you buy a lab coat
Advantages of cotton lab coats
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cotton lab coats are fairly resistant to fire and electric shocks, while lab coats made from polyester burn fairly easily. In situations where exposure to fire or static electricity is almost guaranteed, it is best to seek out protective garments made of Nomex, Kevlar or other highly fire-resistant materials.
Advantages of polyester lab coats
Compared to cotton, which swiftly absorbs most liquids on contact, polyester is more resistant to toxic compounds and acidic or base chemicals. That said, a lab coat is ultimately an emergency safeguard for unexpected accidents and no substitute for a proper hazard suit made of liquid-repelling materials such as Tyvek.
How and when to clean lab coats
When washing lab coats used for scientific, industrial and medical purposes, always check your garment for odd stains or residue and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines. If your lab coat has been exposed to truly dangerous substances, the prudent course is to treat the coat as a biohazard and dispose of it.
What to look for in a quality lab coat
Resistance to fire and heat
If your workplace or laboratory is working with flammable substances or sources of intense heat, purchase a lab coat designed to withstand fire and static shocks. Cotton and Nomex are two lab coat materials that offer a decent amount of protection against fire and static. Lab coats with thicker layers of these fabrics generally offer more protection than coats with thinner layers.
Resistance to chemical spills
If you’re working in an environment with toxic or corrosive chemicals, or studying virulent organisms using a microscope, a well-made lab coat can provide a vital layer of protection if there’s an accident. Lab coats with a large percentage of polyester or Tyvek are more likely to repel fluids and resist corrosion from acidic compounds. The best polyester or Tyvek fabric lab coats have thick layers of fabric plus long collars and sleeves that stop spilled liquid from trickling underneath the coat.
A design that’s easy to put on and take off
Well-designed lab coats should have sleeves that can be fastened securely around the wrists and front flaps that can be buttoned up to cover the chest. They should also have snap closures or other fastenings that let you remove your coat quickly before dangerous substances spilled on you have a chance to leak through. Remember, lab coats are meant to protect against sudden accidents, not regular exposure to hazardous materials.
How much you can expect to spend on a lab coat
Cheaper lab coats designed as accessories or for relatively safe lab environments cost $15-$20. More expensive lab coats made for industrial workplaces and hazardous lab work can cost up to $100.
Lab coat FAQ
When did doctors and scientists start wearing lab coats?
A. The modern lab coat as we know it became popular around the early to mid 19th century, adopted by scientists and physicians as both a safety measure against hazardous materials and as a status symbol to distinguish themselves from less authentic experts.
Why are most lab coats white?
A. White makes it easier for scientists and doctors to spot stains, burns and other blemishes from spilled chemicals or biological samples. For this reason, many lab coat manufacturers recommend using specific cleaning agents to keep a lab coat from yellowing over time.
What’s the best lab coat to buy?
Top lab coat
What you need to know: This professional lab coat looks crisp and holds up well against various substances and spills.
What you’ll love: It’s soft and comfortable, made from a blend of cotton and polyester that’s fairly resistant to hazardous and non-hazardous chemical spills while also being easy to machine wash. It comes in multiple sizes ranging from extra-small to extra-large.
What you should consider: The polyester weave in this coat is vulnerable to fire and high concentrations of heat.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top lab coat for the money
What you need to know: This affordable unisex lab coat works well as both a garment for chemistry lab work and as a key element in scientist costumes.
What you’ll love: This fairly inexpensive polyester-with-cotton lab coat has a single chest pocket, two lower patch pockets, is designed to be machine washed and is closed at the front with four buttons.
What you should consider: This coat isn’t flame resistant and is a bit on the small side.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Lab coat worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a good safety accessory for many industrial work environments, protecting the wearer from fire and static shocks.
What you’ll love: The all-cotton material resists fire, electric shocks and static discharges. Other similar coats made by Bulwark incorporate Nomex and Nylon into their fabric for extra heat resistance. This particular lab coat comes in navy blue.
What you should consider: This coat isn’t particularly resistant to caustic chemicals and other hazardous liquids.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Coleman Gailloreto writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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