Extend the life of your autoclave


  Posted by: Dental Design      10th June 2023

The autoclave forms the foundation of your infection control processes. Keeping your decontamination equipment in optimal condition is vital to ensure that your instruments and handpieces are thoroughly sterilised. There are several things you and your team can do to ensure you can reduce the risk of a breakdown and disruption to your workflow, saving you considerable costs in downtime.

Regular care for a long working life  

Regular maintenance is the most important part of caring for your autoclave. An appropriate team member should refer to the user manual for the unit, and ensure that daily/weekly tests, maintenance and cleaning are carried out proficiently. If you use your autoclave frequently, then more regular cleaning may be required. Certain areas of the autoclave should be paid additional attention, such as the door seals and chamber faces. It is also crucial to check for any noticeable escape of steam or water during the cycle. These checks take minimal time but help to extend the working life of your autoclave, enhancing the safety of your staff and your patients by ensuring total load sterilisation.

It is also important to load the autoclave correctly. Prior to loading, the items must be free from visible contaminants and debris: here, a washer disinfector is a helpful partner. While not mandatory in England and Wales (however, they are in Scotland), washer disinfectors do show best practice, and are superior to manually washing your instrument as they are verifiable and reduce the risk of sharps injuries. They also help to save time and can ensure your items are thoroughly processed and dried prior to sterilisation. If items are not properly processed, sterility cannot be achieved and they must be reprocessed. Once clean, dry and inspected, your instruments should be loaded correctly into the autoclave avoiding overlapping or bunching so air removal is achieved and the steam can make contact with the instruments.

Using appropriate water in your autoclave

Water quality is an important aspect to bear in mind when it comes to the performance and longevity of your autoclave. When operating your autoclave, only water that is low in totally dissolved solids (TDS) and with a low microbial count should be used, such as reverse osmosis (RO) water or freshly distilled water. Hard water, in particular, can severely damage your unit, as the minerals in the water can deposit within the pipes and valves. Over time, this can impact the efficiency of your autoclave, running the risk of cycle failures and unsterile loads. Eventually, limescale build-ups can lead to breakdowns and expensive repairs, halting your daily work and costing you more downtime.

By investing in a RO water system, you can rest assured that your autoclave utilises the recommended water, helping to extend its lifespan and ensure your items are processed correctly. Plus, RO water systems are considered more cost-effective options, so you can be more conservative of your water consumption. It is also important to ensure the water reservoir is cleaned regularly once the autoclave has been drained, in addition to the filters that can become clogged.

Support for validation and certification

Alongside in-practice checks, your decontamination equipment must be supported with professional maintenance. Whatever the make and model of your autoclave, there are always risks of a potential breakdown, and should things go awry you need support that you can depend on. Ensure that the manufacturer offers valuable maintenance and breakdown cover, where they will provide tailored support and get your practice back up and running quickly in times of emergency.

Eschmann offers the Little Sister range, comprised of both vacuum and non-vacuum autoclaves. Plus, all Eschmann autoclaves can be combined with their Care & Cover service offering. Care & Cover includes Annual Validation and Pressure Vessel Certification, unlimited breakdown cover from their team of over 50 engineers nationwide, unlimited Eschmann parts and labour and Enhanced CPD user training. When you choose Eschmann, you gain peace of mind that your equipment is supported throughout its long working life.

Care that makes a difference  

Dental practices depend on high-quality, long-lasting decontamination systems during their day-to-day work. That is why it is crucial to not only invest in outstanding products, but also ensure that you care for your investment to keep downtime to a minimum, and keep it running at its optimum.


For more information on the highly effective and affordable range of decontamination equipment and products from Eschmann, please visit www.eschmann.co.uk/decontamination-guidance/ or call 01903 875787

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