The Do’s and Don’ts of Autoclave Maintenance

Several studies indicate that a major risk factor for tattoo infection is a lack of sterile equipment. Autoclave failure is one of the big contributors. Tattoo artists get a lot of criticism about non-sterile equipment. However, autoclave maintenance problems also contribute to big risks in medical settings too.

When it comes to taking care of autoclave sterilizers, there are some misconceptions. There are also a lot of areas where a small mistake can lead to a tragic outcome. By knowing the right way to take care of your autoclave, you can protect both yourself and the people you work with. Read on to learn the Dos and Don’ts.

Do: Check Autoclave Daily For Signs of Issues

Daily maintenance tasks for autoclaves can seem tedious, but these steps will alert you to the bigger problems early on. Daily checks focus on individual parts and regular functioning and only take a few moments.

  • Before each use, while your autoclave is cold, check the door gasket. It should be clean and intact, with no signs of cracks or erosion, or debris
  • Check water level before each use, to make sure the autoclave isn’t overfilled or short
  • Check for steam leaks that can indicate a major malfunction
  • Check temperature and pressure levels, as well as cycle duration

By checking the basics every day, you can catch a small issue with your autoclave before it fails entirely.

Don’t: Skimp on Cleaning Your Autoclave

The steam and pressure on the inside of the autoclave are what sterilize your instruments. It’s still important to keep both the inside and outside of your machine clean. Make sure that you use manufacturer-recommended cleaners for both the inside and the outside of your autoclave.

One of the major areas that people consistently forget to clean is the tray. Make sure you clean your trays weekly, to make sure no debris gathers on them.

Other weekly autoclave maintenance tasks include draining, cleaning, and refilling the water reservoir. Consider using a water distiller for autoclaves to make this process easier. 

Do: Make Your Maintenance Timely

There are some weekly or monthly maintenance tasks that can be done more often. However, many of the monthly autoclave cleaning routines don’t help much if you do them more often.

Flush out your entire system monthly, using the system detergent your manufacturer provides. Some autoclaves have a programmed cleaning function to make it easier, but every system has its own methods and routines. Check your manual if you’re not sure.

Don’t: Forget Annual Maintenance

Yearly autoclave maintenance tasks include replacing door gaskets and air and water filters. Yearly maintenance also includes checking calibration and verifying no leaks.

These maintenance checks should still happen even if your daily, weekly, and monthly checks show everything is fine. Your daily and weekly checks might still miss little breaks or issues.

A Well-Maintained Autoclave is Good For Everyone

Making sure your autoclave works properly and doesn’t have leaks or any debris that could harbor bacteria or spores will help keep your customers or patients happy and infection-free and keep you out of trouble.

Knowing how to properly maintain your autoclave may seem boring, but it’s vitally important for protecting both you and the people who come to you, whether you’re a tattoo artist, dentist, dermatologist, or surgeon. 

Keep your practice clean with proper autoclave maintenance.