Cleaning is a key step for preventing cross-infection when reusing medical and surgical instruments and equipment.
The sterilizing process will not work if there is any residual soil or bio-film. The outer coating will simply harden and the underlying organic material will be untouched, leaving a potential source of cross infection.
A cleaning agent is necessary to penetrate the soil, loosening it from surfaces and rendering it into smaller particles so that the cleaning process (manual or ultrasonic) can remove it.
Australian Standards AS/NZS 4187 & AS/NZS 4815 give the following recommendations for detergents used in Healthcare Facilities:
- Mildly alkaline with a pH of the in-use dilution in the range 9.0 to 9.8. AS/NZS states: “Removal of soil is improved in mildly alkaline solutions. Alkaline chelating agents also remove calcium & magnesium ions that produce insoluble soap scum.”.
- Biodegradable ingredients and low foaming.
- Non-corrosive, non-abrasive and contain corrosion.
- The surfactant system & other ingredients are classified as not poisonous according to the Poisons Schedule (Australia)/Toxic Substances (NZ).
- Packaged to allow the cleaning agent to be handled & dispensed in a manner that is safe for the operator, while minimising contamination of the cleaning agent.
- Does not contain perfumes, chlorine, fatty soaps, glycerine, lanolin or optical