How to Clean Surgical Instruments Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner

ISO-H2S-100-1Prior to sterilizing surgical instruments, it is a good idea to make sure you have cleaned them to remove blood, tissue and all other organic material.  If soiled materials dries or is baked onto the instruments, it will interfere with microbial inaction and can compromise the sterilization process.

Cleaning is the removal of foreign material (e.g., soil and organic material) from objects and is normally accomplished using water with detergents or enzymatic products.

The most common type of mechanical automatic cleaner is the ultrasonic cleaner. Ultrasonic cleaners are used in conjunction with detergents and enzymatic cleaners.  Ultrasonic cleaning removes particulates by cavitation (bubbles) and implosion. Waves of acoustic energy are transmitted in aqueous solutions and disrupt the bonds that hold particulate matter to surfaces.

When selecting detergents or enzymatic cleaners, make sure they are compatible with the metal and other materials of the surgical instrument. The type of organic material you are trying to remove should also be considered. Proteases are sometimes added to neutral pH solutions to assist in removing organic material.  Enzymes in these formulations attack proteins that make up a large portion of common soil (e.g., blood, pus). Cleaning solutions also can contain lipases (enzymes active on fats) and amylases (enzymes active on starches). Enzymatic cleaners are not disinfectants, and proteinaceous enzymes can be inactivated by germicides.

No matter which cleaning solution you use, rinse thoroughly after cleaning. Adequate rinsing of the surgical instrument is required to remove cleaning residues to levels that will not interfere with the disinfection and sterilization processes.

After your instruments are cleaned, unlock or open them and allow them to air dry, prior to sterilization.

Used ultrasonic cleaning solution

Bacterial contamination can be found in used ultrasonic cleaning solutions. Manufactures of detergents or enzyme cleaner solutions usually do not make antibacterial claims.1  Reusing ultrasonic cleaning fluid could result in endotoxin contamination of surgical instruments, which could cause a severe inflammatory reaction. We suggest making fresh solution after each use and properly clean the ultrasonic instrument’s tank and basket between uses.

Get Your Ultrasonic Cleaner Now!

World Precision Instruments, has a complete line of detergents and enzymes: 

Digital Ultrasonic Cleaner
SKU: 504495
Alkaline detergent
SKU: 13740
SKU: WP34572
SKU: WP34552 
Quantrex Ultrasonic Cleaner
SKU: 504216
Enzymatic Cleaners 
Endozime AW Triple Plus 
SKU: WO34521 
Spray Lubricant
SKU: 500126 
Economy Ultrasonic Cleaner 110V
SKU: UBath-Y
Enzymatic Cleaners

SKU: 7363-4 
Economy Ultrasonic Cleaner 220V
SKU: UBath-Z, EU Plug
Economy Ultrasonic Cleaner 220V
SKU: UBath-B UK Plug 

Check Out WPI's Detergent Line

NOTE: Used cleaning solutions should be handled as bloodborne contaminates and be disposed of properly.


1.  Miller CH, Riggen SD, Sheldrake MA, Neeb JM. Presence of microorganisms in used ultrasonic cleaning solutions. Am. J. Dent. 1993;6:27-31.

Reference from the CDC, Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008,

Last update: February 15, 2107