Surgical Instrument Cleaning can Strengthen Surgical Instruments Capacity to
Prevent Corrosion

Surgical Instrument Cleaning and
Preventing Corrosion

Your first-line-of-defense against preventing surgical instrument corrosion and pitting is a chromium layer provided by the manufactures, the passive layer of surgical instruments.

It is imperative that you maintain the passive oxide layer to prevent corrosion. If this is not done the stainless steel will be more susceptible to corrosion, pitting and stains.This will reduce the life of the surgical instrument and/or  render it useless. Initially, all “stainless steel” surgical instruments have the same corrosion resistance. When strength and hardness requirements are important factors for instrument function, corrosion resistance is generally lower. Increasing the corrosion resistance would soften the stainless steel. Manufacturers of surgical instruments and surgical instrument containers recommend the use of neutral pH cleaning concentrates.

Neutral pH all-in-ONEcleaner cleaning concentrates have  been shown to be effective in optimizing the efficacy of the "passive oxide layer". This will provide a longer life for stainless steel surgical instruments. Cleaning concentrates with a high or low pH have been shown to erode the passive layer. The most common of these cleaning concentrates utilize an alkaline detergent with an acid neutralizer. Virtually all manufacturers of surgical instruments and surgical instrument containers recommend using a neutral ph detergent.

Yellow-brown to dark-brown stains or spots on surgical stainless steel instruments are frequently mistaken for "rust". These residue deposits stains or spots arranged in groups or along edges or in crevices are usually the instrument being exposed to result of high chloride content. They will lead to pitting of the surgical instrument surface if not removed. Excessively hard water can contain high levels of salt sufficient to cause stains or spots that appear as rust. Boilers used to generate the steam for steam sterilizers, if not cleaned properly, will produce contaminated steam which can deposit minerals onto instruments during the sterilization process.

Neutral pH Cleaning Concentrates are recommended by Device Manufacturers.

Virtually all manufacturers of surgical instruments, rigid scopes, flexible scopes, and instrument containers recommend the use of neutral pH Cleaning Concentrates. Generic Example of this recommendation: Do not use high acidic (pH <4) or high alkaline (pH >10) products for disinfection or cleaning, since these can corrode metal, cause  discoloration or stress fractures. Do not use abrasive pads or abrasive Cleaning Concentrates, which will scratch the surface allowing dirt and water deposits to collect. Abrasive cleaning will remove the protective passive layer. Do not use Cleaning Concentrates with high concentrations of chlorine bleach to clean or disinfect stainless steel instruments, as pitting will occur.

Neutral pH 7 surgical instrument cleaning solutions are recommended by all surgical instrument and container manufacturers. The all-in-one enzyme surgical instrument cleaners delvers water softeners that treat the source water to counter the corrosive effects of source hard water that contains high mineral levels, and a free rinsing ingredient breaks the surface tension of the final rinse for spotless and residue free surgical instruments. 

The all-in-ONE enzyme detergent lubricant cleaner is designed to deliver all of the ingredients necessary for effectively cleaning and maintaining surgical instrument stainless steel.

Rinsing Instruments

Tap or Source Water can contain many minerals, which may discolor and stain surgical instruments.  It is recommended that deionized water be used for the final rinsing to prevent spotting. The all-in-ONEcleaner cleaning concentrates can be effective in treating unacceptably hard source water and removing hard water encrustation from surgical instruments and equipment.

Surgical instrument cleaning is the Prerequisite for Sterilization. The reprocessing decontamination process, whether done manually or automatically in a washer disinfector, can only be effective if cleaning is adequate. 

Surgical instrument cleaning detergent lubrication will maintain moving parts and protect instruments from staining and rusting during sterilization and storage. Surgical Instruments should be lubricated with a water-soluble surgical instrument lubricant after or during each cleaning process. A lubricant film will remain through the sterilization to protect instruments during storage. 

Enzymatic surgical instrument cleaners can prevent staining and spotting which may result if residual chemicals are not rinsed from surgical instruments that will be subjected to steam sterilization.

What is a Stainless Steel Surgical Instrument? 

Stainless steel is essentially a low carbon steel which contains chromium at 10% or more by weight. It is this addition of chromium that gives the steel its unique stainless, corrosion resisting properties. The chromium content of the steel allows the formation of a rough, adherent, invisible, corrosion-resisting chromium oxide film on the steel  surface. If damaged mechanically or chemically, this film is self-healing, providing that oxygen, even in very small amounts, is present. The corrosion resistance and other  useful properties of the steel are enhanced by increased chromium content and the addition of other elements such as molybdenum, nickel and nitrogen. Stainless steel has  a passive film created by the presence of chromium (and often other alloying elements, nickel, molybdenum) that resists this process. When exposed in air, stainless steels passivate naturally (due to the presence of chromium).

Surgical Instrument Cleaning Detergents

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