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Where there is heavy, visible contamination of equipment, you need to clean off the contamination before putting it in any sterilisation machine, as sterilisation machines cannot remove heavy contamination and if not removed, it may be a possible source of contamination.
Ultrasonic cleaners must be used in accordance with the instructions to ensure they function as they have been designed, so take some time to read the instructions and if you have any questions about the unit you have, as the company you bought it from.
The lid or cover should always be in place to ensure it functions correctly and instruments should be placed in an appropriately sized basket for the item being cleaned. The efficiency can be increased with the use of a low foaming surfactant or detergent and this also reduces the risk of excessive foaming. It is also important to ensure you regularly clean out the cleaner in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations to avoid a build-up of dirt which will reduce efficiency.
Steam sterilisation offers a rapid, easy to use and non-toxic way of cleaning effectively. Standard benchtop steam sterilisers will usually sterilise items that are not hollow, not tubular and not porous, such as fabrics. The items must also not be wrapped.
If you have items that are hollow or tubular they should be sterilised with a steriliser that has forced air removal and has been validated for these types of items.
Steam sterilisers are pressure vessels and are subject to regular safety checks under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000.
Once items have been sterilised, they must be stored correctly to avoid re-contamination. You must always follow your workplace policies and practices to ensure you sterilise correctly with the machinery you have in your environment.
Finally, there should be records kept in regard to the maintenance and operation of any sterilisation machine.