Ultrasonic Systems for Precise Cleaning Applications
2045 Martin Avenue, Suite 204 Santa Clara, CA 95050

Using Ultrasonic Cleaners to Provide an Effective Sterilization Process

June 8, 2021

Medical instruments, devices, and equipment designed for repeated use have to be cleaned and sterilized after each patient. Traditional cleaning has consisted of manual scrubbing and wiping together with steam cleaning. Sterilization then takes place at high temperatures in an autoclave.

Modern medical equipment often includes electronics and other heat-sensitive components. Instruments may have interior crevices and complex shapes that are hard to clean. Some devices are fragile and may be damaged by manual cleaning, or they may have delicate coatings that are easily scratched when scrubbed. Traditional cleaning methods are often not suitable for these devices.

Ultrasonic cleaners for medical instruments clean effectively while avoiding issues with heat and handling. The article, “Why the Sterilization Process Requires an Ultrasonic Cleaner” by Medicanix, a medical equipment and service provider, details why ultrasonic cleaners are essential to avoid cross-contamination. An ultrasonic cleaner can remove contamination that other cleaning methods can’t reach.

While the ultrasonic cleaning process does not itself sterilize the parts to be cleaned, research has shown that adding a disinfectant to the cleaning solution can result in sterile parts. The key is to use the right ultrasonic cleaner for the specific cleaning application and the right amount of disinfectant for parts that are sterile and completely clean.

How Ultrasonic Cleaners Can Gently Remove Contamination without Heat

Medical practices are switching to ultrasonic cleaning because the ultrasonic technology can clean gently at room temperature. The cleaning intensity can be varied to match the fragility of the parts to be cleaned and temperature-sensitive electronics don’t suffer heat damage. Once ultrasonic cleaners for medical instruments are in use for the parts that can’t be cleaned with heat or scrubbing, the superior cleaning performance of the ultrasonic cleaners can make them the preferred cleaning solution for most medical cleaning tasks.

Ultrasonic cleaners work by using microscopic cavitation bubbles in the cleaning solution to dislodge contaminants from the underlying surfaces. Ultrasonic waves in the cleaning solution generate the bubbles, which form and collapse in time with the ultrasonic frequency. When they collapse the bubbles release tiny jets of cleaning solution that hit the parts to be cleaned and wash away contamination.

This process takes place wherever cleaning solution is present, even inside interior crevices, along hinges, inside tubes, and in dead-end holes. If the ultrasonic cleaning system is set up properly with the right amount of disinfectant, this cleaning process results in parts that are clean and ready for the next patient.

Choosing the Right Ultrasonic Cleaner

The ultrasonic cleaning intensity depends on the system frequency. Low frequencies near 20 kHz create comparatively large cavitation bubbles and deliver intense cleaning action. Ultrasonic cleaners using these low frequencies can strip heavy contamination from parts with hard metal surfaces such as scalpels or stainless steel instruments.

The higher the frequency, the smaller the bubbles, and the gentler the cleaning action. Systems with frequencies above 100 kHz can clean fragile parts, parts with soft surfaces, and parts with delicate coatings. Electronics, fiber optics, and plastic parts are often cleaned at these higher frequencies. An experienced manufacturer of ultrasonic cleaners for medical applications can help customers select the right system for their specific cleaning requirements.

Kaijo Provides Ultrasonic Cleaners for Medical Use

Kaijo provides ultrasonic cleaning systems and components for a variety of industries including medical. The company designs and builds its own equipment and can customize systems to meet specific customer requirements. Kaijo’s extensive experience in ultrasonic technology combined with their in-house expertise makes the company an ideal partner for advising medical facilities and practices on the type of ultrasonic cleaners that work best for them.