Surgical instruments are an investment that require appropriate and effective cleaning to ensure longevity. Protect your investment by using these six best practices for surgical instrument care and handling.


1. Immediate Post-Op Care

Instruments should be rinsed or sprayed with a postoperative, precleaning solution within a few minutes after surgery. If you are unable to fully clean your instrument immediately, at least rinse any bioburden off the instruments or cover them with a damp towel to prevent bioburden from drying.


2. Manual Washing

First, fill the sink with warm water. Then, use only an instrument approved, neutral pH detergent. Be sure to follow proper dilution and mixing instructions. Use a nylon or stainless-steel bristled brush to clean the instruments, paying close attention to box locks and serrations. Finally, rinse thoroughly.


3. Ultrasonic Cleaning 

Did you know that ultrasonic cleaning is 15 times more effective than manual cleaning? Follow proper dilution instructions and use only instrument approved (low suds), neutral pH detergents. Rinse thoroughly.


4. Drying

Lay the rinsed instruments on a towel, making sure that all instruments are in an open position. Next, pat dry any excess water from the instruments with another towel. 


5. Lubrication

Once dry, apply a spray-on, instrument approved, neutral pH lubricant. Instruments should be lubricated each time they are used, cleaned, and sterilized. Never soak instruments as instrument milk baths are known to harbor bacteria. In addition, never use petroleum-based lubricants as steam will not penetrate and instruments will not achieve sterility. 


6. Sterilization

Ensure that all instruments are open and un-ratcheted. Be sure to use a perforated pan, as it will allow for better steam flow. Place heavier instruments on the bottom, wrap, and sterilize following individual autoclave instructions. Sort in an upright position and never stack peel pouches on top of each other.  

Get these tips and more in our care and cleaning poster. Click here to download it for free.

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