Following these easy maintenance tips will keep your sterilizer working properly and extend the life of your chamber or cassette steam pressure autoclave or dry heat sterilizer. These tips and tricks will not only ensure proper working order (less headaches!) but also save you money in the long run.
1. Only Use Autoclave Cleaners
Sterilizer cleaners are specially designed to remove hard water deposits and sediments that accumulate in autoclaves. Using other chemicals can damage your sterilizer severely.
In addition, items entering an autoclave should be pre-cleaned. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Items must be cleaned using water with detergents or enzymatic cleaners before processing", such as in an ultrasonic cleaner. Removing particles from instruments will also prevent any contaminants from damaging your autoclave in the long run.
Important to know: NEVER use bleach, steel wool, a steel brush, or anything abrasive to clean the chamber. Only use autoclave cleaners and distilled water.
MFI Medical Recommends:
- Mettler Cavitator Ultrasonic Cleaner - To easily remove solid material from instruments preparing them for sterilization.
- Tuttnauer Chamber Brite Powdered Autoclave Cleaner - To clean and remove deposit buildup from steam autoclaves (find more cleaners below).
2. Use Distilled Water Only
Distillation removes impurities and contaminants, such as bacteria, particles, dissolved solids, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), providing the cleanest water possible for your sterilization needs. This will prevent minerals from collecting and corroding your sterilizer. The single most important step you can take to prevent problems with your sterilizer is to ensure only distilled water, not tap water, is used.
Money Saving Tip: Having a water distiller will save you money and space compared to buying distilled water.
MFI Medical Recommends: Tuttnauer Water Purification Systems
3. Clean Your Autoclave Daily, Weekly, and Monthly
Your autoclave is sterilizing your instruments, it needs to be kept clean! Luckily, if this is done on a regular schedule the process is quick and simple. If the sterilizer isn’t cleaned properly, dirt and debris will build up and clog the tubing and solenoid valves. This dirt can also be transmitted to the instruments, jeopardizing your sterilization. In addition, a layer of dirt on the stainless steel chamber will trap moisture against the metal and cause the camber to become porous and fail.
The difference between sterilizing and disinfecting is disinfecting eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms, except bacterial spores. Meaning, if spores are present sterilization has not been reached. Sterilization eliminates all forms of microbial life. Using spore tests will ensure your autoclave is being cleaned properly and effectively sterilizing your instruments.
MFI Medical Recommends: SteriDent Spore Test Monitoring Service Dry Heat or Steam
Important to know: Because maintenance instructions can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer based on different features, materials, parts, etc., always follow the manufacturer recommended maintenance and cleaning instructions for your specific autoclave.