Disposable versus reusable medical gowns: A performance comparison

Meredith McQuerry, Elizabeth Easter, Alex Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Background: Medical gowns are essential personal protective equipment (PPE) that prevents the spread of microorganisms and bodily fluids. During surge capacity situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, reusable PPE is often recommended due to shortages. Methods: This research evaluated the performance of disposable versus reusable medical gowns by assessing their ability to provide adequate protection across their expected service lifespan. Level I, II, and III gowns were tested for water resistance and hydrostatic pressure, along with other durability assessments (breaking, tear, and seam strength, pilling resistance, dimensional stability, and air permeability, colorfastness, and fabric hand) per standard test methods. Data were collected at new for the disposable gowns and after 1, 25, 50, and 75 industrial launderings for the reusable gowns. Results were compared to the Association of the Advancement Instrumentation® (AAMI) PB70 performance specifications. Results: Level I and II disposable gowns did not meet AAMI performance specifications for impact penetration water resistance. All 3 levels of disposable gowns also failed to meet the American Society for Testing and Materials performance requirements for breaking strength in the crosswise direction. Conclusions: The adoption of reusable gowns may result in increased protection and significant cost savings due to their superior durability and sustainability when compared to disposable gowns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-570
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc.


  • Durability
  • Medical Gown
  • Medical Textiles
  • Protection
  • Standards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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