If you notice spots appearing on your medical tools after the autoclaving process, you’ll want to be careful how you proceed. Marks like these can be harmless, or they can be a sign of some underlying damage to your instruments. Today, we will help you understand what causes spots on instruments after autoclaving and what to do in the future.
What To Look For
If you’re unfamiliar, autoclaving is the process of sterilizing lab and surgical equipment in a machine called an autoclave. The process involves using high-pressure steam to kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can contaminate your lab materials.
Sometimes, after the autoclaving process, you may notice spots of discoloration and other alarming marks on your tools. These marks may appear as discoloration of various hues, including cloudy spots, which leads many people to suspect rust initially. Always inspect your equipment after every cleaning and sterilization for these marks or even signs of corrosion, which could be very dangerous if left unnoticed.
Causes of Spotting
Spotting is usually caused by poor steam quality during the autoclaving process. Spotting can also be due to mineral deposits such as magnesium and calcium accumulations. Alternatively, spots can be left by detergent buildup or failure to completely rinse and scrub instruments. Either way, you want to make sure your equipment is fully cleaned, so try to catch any signs of spotting or other marks before putting the instruments back to use.
How To Proceed
Most of the time, the spots left behind from autoclaving are harmless and simply need to be wiped off with a cloth. Of course, this depends on the type of tools you are using. Stainless steel and other resilient instruments shouldn’t be damaged by mineral spotting. However, always be on the lookout for discoloration and stains, as these could be signs of rusting or corrosion on less resilient tools. In this case, you would need to dispose of the damaged tool and order a replacement. This is the safest way to proceed when handling delicate ophthalmic supplies and other surgical equipment.
You can prevent spotting and mineral buildup in the future by examining your autoclaving sterilizer. You may find that lime buildup is to blame or that your machine is not compatible with hard water. You’ll want to correct the bad steam problem at the source first and foremost.
Now that you understand what causes spots on instruments after autoclaving and what to do, you can monitor your own business’s sterilization process. Spotting does not equate to the end of an instrument’s usefulness, but you should be careful to strengthen your sterilization process if you do notice them.