June 27, 2017

Alcohol fixation of bacteria to instruments increases cleaning difficulty

By: Judy Mathias

Editor’s Note

Treating contaminated surgical instruments with alcohol, allowing them to dry, or allowing them to soak in water for extended periods of time increases cleaning difficulty and may contribute to sterilization inefficacy, this study finds.

Soaking or spraying instruments with alcohol significantly reduced viable bacterial numbers, but significantly increased the attachment of soil to instruments, as did air drying.

Wiping instruments with alcohol had little effect on bacterial viability, but increased cleaning difficulty.

Soaking instruments in water for 75 or 240 minutes increased cleaning difficulty, probably because of bacterial attachment.

These practices should be discouraged, the researchers say.

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