Why you need to perform daily and random checks

How do you know if your ultrasonic cleaner is effectively cleaning all your surgical instruments, no matter where they are placed in the machine? How do you tell if there is enough cavitation throughout the machine? Or if your wash cycle is long enough, or your temperature is correct? All of these things can be tested using a wash monitor.

Wash-Check U ultrasonic wash monitors

Wash-Checks U wash monitors consist of an aluminum strip with a blue square soil sample on one side. The square sample is not actual blood and contains no blood proteins, to prevent the risk of reintroducing blood components to the machine, but is a proprietary protein-based soil proven to be comparable to blood.

To perform a check, a monitor is placed in a holder with the blue soil completely exposed, and is then placed in the center of a standard instrument tray or a wire mesh tray. If the machine has multiple levels of trays, the monitor should be placed in the top tray to ensure that cavitation reaches all levels of the machine. The holder secures the wash monitor and keeps the soil facing upward.

blue Wash-Checks U ultrasonic monitors

Daily machine release monitoring should be done once a day with the wash monitor and holder in an empty tray (with no instruments). Periodic monitoring/routine load release can be done anytime during the day and the monitor can be placed in a tray with instruments. Once the monitor is placed in the tray, a regular wash cycle should be run.

After the cycle, remove the wash monitor and read the results. All the blue soil must be removed from the test strip. If any blue soil remains, the cleaning is insufficient. It is a good idea to retain these monitors (they are easily stapled to a cleaning record) for possible future audits. Some ultrasonic cleaners, like the Ultra Clean Triton 36 and Triton 72, have a place in the machine’s software to log the results each time, as well.

Insufficient results

If the cleaning results are insufficient, there are several possible reasons that may simply require an adjustment to the ultrasonic cleaner’s cycle settings or the way it is loaded. First, check whether the detergent is approved for use in an ultrasonic cleaner. Determine if it has a neutral pH and is low-foaming and enzymatic. Also check that it the dispensing equipment is working and it is being dispensed at the proper dilution rate, based on the manufacturer’s instructions for use (IFU).

If there are no problems with the detergent, check that the cycle time is correct and the water reached the proper temperature, again based on the manufacturer’s IFU. Be sure you use a proper tray for the machine. Ultra Clean recommends no plastic trays or trays with a solid-bottom or solid sides be used. If using a wire mesh tray, be sure the wires have a minimum spacing of ½ cm² so the cavitation isn’t blocked. Do not use rubber mats in the bottom of the trays, as they also will block the cavitation.

When performing a routine load release with instruments, the tray loading must be done carefully. Instruments must be properly spaced and not overlapping each other or the wash monitor. If instruments are resting on each other (or the monitor), they will interfere with the cavitation and prevent a thorough cleaning of all instruments.

Consistent results

To guarantee the efficacy of the wash monitors like Wash-Checks U, store them at room temperature in their protective foil bag until use. Check the expiration date on the packaging, as they have a shelf life of 18 months. Do not use expired wash monitors.

Why are these regular checks with wash monitors so important? When you ensure your instruments receive consistent high-quality cleaning, your department can save time and resources cleaning the instruments a second time. By detecting any possible mechanical problems early, you may prevent a machine breakdown or more costly repair.

A properly working ultrasonic cleaner can remove surgical soils from instruments, keeping your facility in regulatory compliance and helping your facility reduce its number of healthcare-acquired infections or surgical site infections.