Surgical Instruments

How To Take Proper Care Of Surgical Instruments? – Better Care, Less Harmful!

As a medical professional, you can never overstate the importance of reliable surgical equipment. Surgical instruments require delicacy and accuracy, so surgeons could make the procedures a success. A medic can only be as sharp as his equipment, and all of them require proper maintenance as it essential to the equation. 

To keep all of the surgical instruments in their best condition, surgeons need to perform a set of instructions. Among several instructions, cleaning, sterilization, and storage are the essential ones. After reading this post, you can increase surgical equipment life and get the best results out of surgical scissors for the years to come. 

The Basics

There are more than one ways to keep your instruments in the best condition. If you learn how to maintain your surgical instruments, you can extend their lifespan. Moreover, by proper maintenance, you will be sure that they are in reasonable working condition. 

Medical instruments can last for years if they are provided with the best service over regular intervals. As explained above, these instruments require some unprecedented steps, that are:

  • Cleaning
  • Disinfection


Cleaning surgical equipment helps to remove dirt and biological material. This process is called the pre-sterilizing or pre-disinfection process. If body fluid or tissue makes their way into surgical tools, they can make it hard to clean or, worse, damage the equipment. All instruments should be rinsed with cold water, whereas hot water can cause tissues to coagulate if they contain a large amount of protein.

Mostly, surgeons dip instruments in a cold water bath with an enzymatic cleaning detergent(Proteases). These enzymes help to dissolve proteins and break oils and make the tool perfectly clean. 

Surgical Instruments Care

Manual Cleaning

Manual cleaning is recommended when there is no availability of mechanical or ultrasonic cleaning. It can be a stepping stone to automated cleaning if your equipment requires disassembly or complex in nature. Anyhow, here are some supplies that you will need for the manual cleaning of surgical instruments. 

  • Thick rubber gloves.
  • An apron.
  • Surgical mask.
  • Eye protection.
  • PH-Neutral detergents mixed with enzymes(proteases: helps remove organic material)

Detergents with pH-neutral will help you keep your stainless steel equipment clean. While the use of low pH can cause black stains on your tools. Likewise, a high pH-detergent like alkaline will leave brown colors. Deposit of such stains can make operations less smooth. 

For cleaning manually, the use of a soft plastic brush is best. Scrub your instruments thoroughly. Abrasive materials like wire brushes or steel are not recommended; such materials can remove the protective coating on surgical instruments. 

A single vigorous scrub with an incorrect tool can dull your instruments, while repeated scrubs can dramatically shorten the lifespan. 

Mechanical Cleaning

In mechanical cleaning, a machine performs several cycles. Usually, machines rinse tools with cold water to remove debris. After that, hot soaking and rinse, the process ends with hot air dry. A few devices also include a disinfection process. 

Ultra Sonic Cleaning 

Ultrasonic cleaning is the most favored method of cleaning surgical tools. It harnesses the vibration of sound waves and creates microscale bubbles. Then these bubbles hit stainless instruments with alternating pressures. Thus, clean tools with precision not possible with manual or mechanical cleaning.


To clean an instrument Ultrasonically, you need to follow some essential steps, that are:

  • Add detergent mixture according to the specifications with deionized water. 
  • Turn on the machine a few minutes before to attain the right temperature. 
  • Place instruments in an open position. 
  • Run ultrasonic waves for 10 minutes. 
  • Rinse instruments with cold water to dislodge any debris and lubricate the hinges.  
  • Dry your tools with microfiber. 


  • Make sure to dip the instruments entirely. 
  • Place instruments with the same materials. 
  • Don’t let bladed instruments damage others. 


Chemical Disinfection

Surgical instruments entail high-level disinfection (HLD). You can use thermal and chemical methods, but boiling is the preferred method since surgical instruments are generally unaffected by heat. It’s important to note that boiling is not a method for sterilizing surgical equipment.

If your instruments are delicate and may get damaged by heat, you’ll need to disinfect them chemically. For surgical devices, here are recommended three chemical disinfectants:

  • Chlorine: can kill vegetative bodies within three minutes after contact. 

CAUTION: If any organic matter is present, it can hinder chlorine’s activity.

  • Hydrogen Peroxide: is useful but caustic to the surfaces of your equipment. Take extra care while rinsing. 
  • Chlorhexidine: is effective against many infections, but it only kills bacteria of a small spectrum. However, it kills the bacteria within its scope very rapidly.

Thermal Disinfection 


Thermal disinfection is less time consuming as compared to chemical disinfection. There are two types of thermal disinfection, forced air disinfection and static air disinfection. 

    • Static air: Takes 2 to 3 hours and sterilize instruments at 160°C. 
  • Forced air: Requires only 6 to 12 minutes and sterilize instruments at 190°C. 

Autoclave Disinfection 

An autoclave is a machine that uses pressurized steam to sterilize tools. A French physician invented the first autoclave in the late 17th century. At first, people use it for food preparation. Basically, it was just a pressure cooker. However, in the early 1800s, Charles Chamberland updated the autoclave for just medical use

For autoclave disinfection, put instruments in a tray or wrap them using muslin pouches. Wrapping will keep your tools to get contaminated. Avoid stacking surgical instruments. Arrange them correctly so that steam can circulate through them effectively. 

In order to be efficient, autoclaving must meet one of the four thresholds. 

  • For unwrapped instruments: 121°C of temperature for 20 minutes, at more than 15 PSI(pound per square inch) of atmospheric pressure. Or 134°C of temperature for four minutes at more than 30 PSI.
  • For wrapped instruments: 121°C of temperature for thirty minutes at more than 15 PSI. Or 134°C of temperature for 15 minutes at 30 PSI or above. 


Cleaning and disinfection are only a few of many things that surgeons need to perform just to keep their surgical instruments clean. However, there are a lot of other factors that require proper maintenance. Other important steps also include the identification of improper use, storing surgical tools, surface inspection, and the performance of functional tests.
To get the right services, do not hesitate to contact A1MedCare anywhere, anytime. We specialize in manufacturing the best surgical instruments.