Cleaning and Disinfecting Surgical Instruments. Virtually all manufacturers of surgical instruments, rigid scopes, flexible scopes, and instrument containers recommend the use of neutral pH Cleaning Concentrates. 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.
Cleaning the Prerequisite for Sterilization
Manufacturers of surgical instruments recommend the use of neutral pH enzyme detergent cleaners. Neutral pH all-in-one or combination enzyme surgical instrument cleaner detergent 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 surgery 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 against using these and recommend using a neutral ph detergent.
Lubrication of Surgical Instruments
To maintain moving parts and protect instruments from staining and rusting during sterilization and storage, they should be lubricated with a water-soluble, preserved lubricant after each cleaning. Most automated washer decontaminators provide the option for lubrication at the end of the final rinse treatment. Since effective ultrasonic cleaning removes all lubricant, re-lubrication is important. "all-in-one" cleaning concentrates will provide lubrication. The lubricant should contain a chemical preservative to prevent bacterial growth in the lubricant bath. The bath solution should be made with de-mineralized water. A lubricant containing a rust inhibitor helps prevent electrolytic corrosion of points and edges. Immediately after cleaning, instruments should be immersed or rinsed for 30 seconds and allowed to drain off, not wiped off. A lubricant film will remain through the sterilization to protect surgery instruments during storage.