Cleaning Surgical Instrument — Hemostat and Forceps Rust and Stain Removal
Rust vs. Stains
The difference between rust and stains on your surgical instruments is stains can be removed, whereas rust will leave permanent damage. It is hard to differentiate between the two, so in order to determine if the a brown/orange discoloration is a stain or rust, use the eraser test.
- Rub a pencil eraser aggressively over the discoloration.
- If the discoloration is removed with the eraser and the metal underneath is smooth and clean, this is a stain.
- If a pit mark appears under the discoloration, this corrosion is rust.
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Trouble Shooting Stain Guide
Below is a list of the different potential discoloration variations on your surgical instruments.
- Brown/Orange Stains - Most brown/orange stains are not rust. This stain color is the result of high pH surface deposits caused by any of the following: chlorhexidine usage, improper soaps and detergents, cold sterilization solution, baked-on blood, soaking in saline or using laundry soap.
- Dark Brown/Black Stains - Low pH (less than 6) acid stain. May be caused by improper detergents and soaps and/or dried blood.
- Bluish-Black Stains - Reverse plating may occur when two different types of metals are ultrasonically processed together. For example, stainless steel instruments processed with chrome instruments may cause a stain color reaction. Exposure to saline, blood or potassium chloride will cause this bluish-black stain to occur.
- Multi-Color Stains - Excessive heat caused by a localized “hot spot” in the autoclave.
- Light and Dark Spots - Water spots from allowing instruments to air-dry. With slow evaporation, minerals from water are left on the instrument’s surface.
- Bluish-Gray Stains - Cold sterilization solution being used outside manufacturer guidelines.
- Black Stains - Possible exposure to ammonia.
To properly remove localized staining, dip a moistened cleaning brush in Spectra-Scrub® and brush the stain away. Use tap water or distilled water to rinse, then dry with a towel.
Learn how to properly inspect and remove stains from your surgical needle holders.
Forceps Inspection | Rust and Stain-Hemostats and Forceps