The following important tips can extend the life of your instruments.
Ultrasound cleaning is the recommended method for use in podiatry.
- Avoid using tap water in any form of cleaning, water contains high concentration of minerals which can cause stains.
- Always clean instruments in the open position and fully submerge in the cleaning solution.
- Rinse the instrument after cleaning and dry thoroughly with a towel.
- Holding used instruments in a dry container without rinsing may allow organic materials, blood. and debris to dry onto instruments surface. It will not only make cleaning more difficult, but It can also leave some tough stains on the surface.
Steam sterilisation in an autoclave is the only recommended method for use in podiatry.
- Lubricate the instruments joints prior to autoclaving.
- Do not mix different metals, you may autoclave instruments individually or in sets.
- Non-stainless-steel instruments are not suitable for autoclaving.
- Use distilled water, tap water will cause staining.
- Care must be taken when autoclaving all pointed instruments to avoid damaging the head, place either upright or in horizontal position.
Staining or Rusting
Stainless steel instruments, if handled with care, rarely rust. Dark areas on the surface are most often mistaken for rust. In fact, these marks are surface deposits. After autoclaving, you may notice a stain on your instruments. Stains appear in many colours and, in most cases the colours tell you about the origin of the stain.
The problem is most often a phosphate layer on the instrument which is usually caused by: water sources, detergents used to wash and clean instruments, surgical wrappings, cold sterilisation solutions or dried blood.
The most common black stains are due to acid reaction. Black stains may result from detergents used to clean the instruments; similar to brown stains caused by high pH detergents. The black acid type stain can be caused by low pH (less than 6) during autoclaving.
These are usually a result of plating and caused by mixing dissimilar metals in ultrasonic cleaners and during autoclaving. Multi-colour stains are most often due to excessive heat (chromium oxide stains), and show rainbow colours with a blue or brown overtone. When the instrument shows these heat stains, it may have lost part of its original hardness
Discolouration of Instruments
The most common discolouration is due to deposit stains and usually occurs during autoclaving. To minimise staining, it is important the autoclave runs perfectly, and that it has a well-functioning drying cycle. The instruments should come out completely dry, whether in wrappers or loose on a tray. If any moisture is left in the pack, or on the instruments, it will result tiny water droplets on the instruments surface, which will leave a circular stain after drying. The colour of this stain will depend on the pH, as well as the mineral or metal contents of the water. If the drying cycle works perfectly, however, there is much less chance for the deposits to form on the surface of the instruments.
Be careful with the cleansers
The cleansers and cleaning agents used could also be a cause of staining, pitting, marking and even corrosion. Strong substances, as well as those containing a chemical make-up of acid or alkaline-based solutions can lead to pitting and staining. Dish soap or surgeons hand scrub should not be used; these products cause spotting and corrosion. Using an instrument cleaning brush is a good idea, especially for jaw serrations, teeth and hinged areas.
What is pitting?
Pitting can occur when an instrument is autoclaved using a solution containing chloride or an acid-based detergent. Hydrochloric acid, formed in the solution, removes the protective chromium oxide layer of the stainless steel. The acid can then attack the unprotected steel and caused pitting.
Avoid the problem of pitting by using on pH neutral (7.0) detergents and making sure all instruments are thoroughly rinsed before placing in the autoclave. Avoid instruments touching during the autoclave process to eliminate pitting.
An etching service for multiple quantities of your instruments ranges can be provided for all Batten-Edwards instruments. This is mainly used by NHS Trusts for dating and tracking instruments. This etching cannot be removed under normal autoclaving conditions. The service is provided free of Charge for large quantity orders and must be requested at time of purchase.