May 6, 2021

Performance of disposable vs reusable cover gowns

Editor's Note

In this study, led by researchers at Florida State University, Tallahassee, reusable cover gowns were found to provide increased protection, compared to disposable cover gowns.

During personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that washable cloth cover gowns be used.

Researchers tested the performance of Level I, II, and III new disposable gowns for water resistance and hydrostatic pressure along with other durability assessments, such as breaking, tearing, air permeability, and pilling resistance. They also tested reusable gowns after 1, 25, 50, and 75 industrial launderings. Results were compared to the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) performance specifications.

Level I and II disposable gowns did not meet AAMI performance specifications for water resistance or impact penetration, and all three levels failed to meet the ASTM International (formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials) performance requirement for breaking strength in a crosswise direction.

Reusable cover gowns provided greater water resistance, strength, and pilling resistance than disposable gowns, and industrial laundering did not negatively affect their protection or performance.

The researchers concluded that the use of reusable cover gowns during a PPE shortage is safe and may result in increased protection and significant cost savings because of their superior durability and sustainability, compared to disposable gowns.


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