How to Care for Your Autoclave or Steam Sterilizer
Caring for your autoclave is very important and can be easily overlooked. We often see this step neglected which can cause high and frequent repair costs. A lack of maintenance will also lead to deterioration and excessive wear of the contents being sterilized. Let go over a few points to make caring for your autoclave or steam sterilizer easier for you.
1) It is very important that the contents being sterilized are clean and free from debris, blood and organic tissue. Otherwise the instruments or sterilizer may become damaged. We strongly recommend using an ultrasonic cleaner to help with the cleaning process.
2) Inspect the door gasket for excessive wear or cracking. The gasket and mating surface should be cleaned with a mild detergent such as Spray Nine™ or Fantastik™ using a cloth or sponge.
3) When running a sterilization cycle it is very important to not overload the sterilizer trays because it will cause inadequate sterilization and drying.
4) Always be sure to use a Class 5 Chemical Integrator Test Strip with every cycle for immediate reassurance that the correct parameters have been met to achieve sterilization.
1) Keeping your autoclave clean is one of the most important points. Be sure to clean the trays and rack with a Non-Scratch Scour Pad using a mild non-abrasive detergent such as Bon Ami™. Always rinse the instrument well and be sure to NOT USE steel wool, wire brush, or bleach.
2) Completely drain the water from the reservoir and replenish with fresh distilled water.
3) It is strongly recommended to perform a biological live spore test weekly or at least monthly to ensure sterilization.
1) Clean the chamber and flush lines using the recommended autoclave cleaner following the cleaner’s instructions. Normally you will need 2 gallons of distilled water to complete this job.
2) Inspect the cord and plug for overheating and excessive wear—this could be a fire hazard. If this is the case, the power cord should be replaced. Some power cords are quick disconnect and easily replaced. If not, the replacement will need to be done by a certified repair company.
On a yearly basis you should have your autoclave inspected, cleaned thoroughly, tested and calibrated. This is typically referred to as a PM or Preventative Maintenance Service. This service would normally include the replacement of wear & tear parts such as gaskets, seals and filters. This will ensure your sterilizer is running properly and remaining in good working order. If your autoclave is used very heavily we would recommend this service bi-annually.
Without a doubt, following these guidelines will extend the life of your autoclave and instruments. You can also refer to your operator’s manual for more details. For your convenience, we can provide you with a free “caring for your autoclave” poster that you can keep nearby for easy reference!