Blaise Midnight, Biomedical Engineer with Zoetek Medical, talks about the routine maintenance that can be performed on the M-Series Midmark Ritter UltraClave Sterilizer, which covers mostly the M9s and M11s.

Let’s talk about things that the operators can do between the annual PMs that we perform for you to help prolong its life and also keep it looking and working at its peak performance.

Daily Maintenance

The very first thing is, daily, we want to start from a cold sterilizer. Typically, people like to do this in the morning before they start the day. But, whatever works in your schedule is fine. The very first thing you want to do is clean with a damp rag – best if it’s moistened with some regular old distilled water. Distilled water should be used almost exclusively on sterilizers, and we’ll talk more about that. Dampen a rag and clean the gasket surface. Wipe it down and also clean the sealing surface where the gasket will press against when the door closes. This has a tendency to build up sort of a crusty kind of material on there from the steam and the water quality. It may not be perfect, and that will cause leaks and issues with your sterilization. So, you want to make sure you clean that so, once a day, give that a good wipe.

Daily Maintenance - Midmark Automatic Sterilizer UltraClave

After you’ve done that, the only other thing to do, on a daily basis, is clean the exterior surface again with a damp rag. You can use a mild detergent on the external surface with a damp clean rag. Wipe it all down good. Some people have disinfection procedures that they follow. If you have one then I recommend that’s a good time to do it. If you don’t have one and are looking to get one, any kind of an alcohol-based disinfectant solution is probably a great thing to wipe down your whole sterilizer exterior. So, that covers the daily procedure.

Weekly Maintenance

Next, we want to talk about the weekly maintenance that can be done on your MIdmark Ritter UltraClave.  The biggest thing here is we want to replace that water that’s in your reservoir. Weekly is a great idea because every time you put an instrument or a pack into that there’s always a little bit of residual soap (or whatever) in there that ends up staying in there and builds up in your reservoir – in the water in your reservoir.  So, it’s always great to get that cleaned out and put fresh distilled water.  Again, we always want to use distilled water. So, to do that we’re going to drain it.  Pull the drain tube out of the little keepers and place it in a drain bucket or sink. Tip this down and the water will drain out of the reservoir. Once all the water is out then we can set that aside and we can put the tube back into its clips.  We take again distilled water only, and we fill it through the top fill port and bring it up until the water rises up into the green area. I recommend you stay up at the upper half, upper three-quarter section of the green and consider that as a good level to keep your water at all times. If you use your sterilizer heavily and have to add water throughout your week just keep it up at that level. So, that’s changing the water.

Weekly Maintenance - Midmark Automatic Sterilizer UltraClave

Another thing we want to keep clean as well is our trays. So, we can remove our trays. They can be wiped down with distilled water or a mild detergent. They need to be rinsed very well if they’re heavily soiled. It’s recommended that you can use a non-chlorinated cleaner. Barkeeper’s Friend is recommended.  It’s like a scarring powder that you can buy almost anywhere. You can put that on there and wipe it down using a cloth and it’ll take a lot of the discoloration and buildup off of your trays. Again, it has no chlorine. Chlorine on stainless steel is a bad combination that will pit it and will shorten the life of your sterilizer because it will damage it over a period of time. They also recommend that you can clean the tray rack.  The tray rack comes out – you kind of pull it out from the sides and it slides out like this. You can wipe this all down if you do use some kind of a cleanser or a non-chlorinated cleanser or some sort of mild soap. Make sure you rinse this all really good before you put it back in and then, of course, to reinsert is a little tricky because there are some holes here on our tray and little tabs on our rack that go together. Once you’ve got those in place you just slide her back in to our sterilizer like that and that is the extent of your weekly maintenance.

Weekly Maintenance - Midmark Automatic Sterilizer UltraClave

Monthly Maintenance

Now we want to talk about our Monthly Maintenance. This is a little bit more involved, because, if you want to keep your sterilizer running at peak performance, one of the biggest things is to keep it really clean. So, there’s actually a cleaning procedure that’s recommended once a month and that includes this material from Midmark called Speed-Clean. These products for cleaning any sterilizer are often acidic or basic and can be irritating to eyes and skin. So, personal protective equipment is always a good idea – gloves, safety glasses are strongly recommended. We’re going to start from a cold chamber on the Ritter Midmark Sterilizer. You can clean the trays in there while you’re doing this procedure. You can load your trays in there. The first thing we want to do is we want to start with fresh, distilled water. You’re going to need quite a bit of distilled water – several gallons (three gallons) of distilled water to do this. Make sure you have your distilled water on hand. The first thing we’re gonna do is drain it like we did during our weekly draining cycle. Drain it out, put the tube back up, and fill it back up with fresh distilled water.

Monthly Maintenance - Midmark Automatic Sterilizer UltraClave

Take your Speed-Clean that you can purchase from Zoetek and pour about one ounce in the chamber. Make sure you keep it off your skin and keep it clean. At this point, we’re going to close the door and latch it and we are going to select the “Pouches” cycle. Hit “Start”. It will heat up and run the cycle. We don’t really want to run a dry cycle when we’re doing this so you kind of have to be paying attention to the cycle. Once it finishes its sterilization cycle and it goes and it vents and goes into the dry cycle, we’re going to hit the “Stop” button to cancel the rest of the cycle. At that point, we open the door again once the pressure’s dropped all the way down. Open the door and drain our sterilizer’s reservoir just like we did before. Pull out the tube, drain it, fill it again with another bottle of brand new distilled water. We don’t want to be running any instruments or sterilizing any equipment during this clean cycle or during the rinse cycle. Make sure your chamber is otherwise empty other than your tray.

Refill it with fresh water and this time we run an “Unwrapped” cycle. At the end of the unwrapped cycle we don’t need to do the dry cycle again. After it vents you can hit the stop button just like before. The pressure should be down to zero. Open your door up, and, then, at that point, you take out your trays, rinse them off, wipe them down with a rag and some distilled water on a rag, wipe off any residual of the cleaner, wipe out the chamber itself. It’s often a good idea to remove the rack. We’re going to pull the rack out again and these items can be rinsed again and wiped off with a clean cloth and then again with some distilled water and a clean rag. Wipe out the inside of the chamber all over top, bottom, back just to get any last residual of that cleaner out of there. Again, we drain our water out of our reservoir. Put the tube back up. And, one more fill with distilled water. At that point, you’re ready to put your rack back in and your trays back in.

In summary, the process is 1) Drain out your first water 2) put your cleaner in 3) run a “Pouches” cycle 4) drain it 5) refill it with water 6) Run an “Unwrapped” cycle 7) drain it 8) refill it again.

Monthly Maintenance - Midmark Automatic Sterilizer UltraClave

That’s the procedure for cleaning the chamber. Inside the sterilizer – once you have the rack out – there are some filters in here. Make sure they’re not getting clogged up. Sometimes people have labels and they get off and they can plug these things up. Down in the bottom there’s a little screen that fits in the hole. It’s pretty obvious –  it just presses down in there. Pull it out and make sure it’s not clogged up with anything. To clean it off you can use a brush or whatever and some water and then that just pops back in. Most of these have two of them –  one in the bottom and then one in the back. At that point you can put all your trays and racks back in and that pretty much covers 90 percent of the sterilization.

Exercising the Safety Pressure Relief Valve

Annual Maintenance - Midmark Automatic Sterilizer UltraClave

The final thing that we’re going to show you and is how to exercise the safety pressure relief valve. In order to do that the unit has to be running and hot. This manufacturer recommends that this be done annually. I’m going to show you how this works in case you’re inclined to do it yourself. But, if you choose not to, Zoetek can perform this test during our regular routine pm. First thing you’re going to do is start your sterilizer. Don’t put any instruments in it because it may get a failure. You may end up with a failure in this cycle but we don’t care because it’s just a test. We’re going to start a cycle – usually an “unwrapped” cycle with no instruments or anything inside being sterilized. On the top there’s this lever that’s going to open the safety valve. The purpose of that is to make sure that, over a period of time, it doesn’t stick shut. The safety valve is a safety device that, if for some reason too much pressure were to be formed (to be present inside the chamber) rather than a catastrophic explosion, it will vent the steam safely out the bottom of the sterilizer. So, we want to just exercise it. To do that we’re going to lift up on this handle for just a couple of seconds and you’ll have steam shooting out the bottom of the sterilizer. Don’t be alarmed when that happens. We’re just going to hold it for a couple seconds and you have your steam coming out. You can hear it coming out. If, for some reason, it doesn’t seal immediately you can flip it up and down once or two more times and it will.  It should seal up for you fine. If it doesn’t, then there’s an issue with that valve that would probably require service. After that you just hit the stop button and that will shut it down. Once your pressure drops down to zero, you can open your door and continue with your normal sterilization.

Annual Preventative Maintenance

We’ve gone over the operator maintenance on our Midmark Ritter sterilizers. The only thing left is Annual PM which Zoetek can provide for you. Door gaskets, filters, common failure parts are replaced as part of the PM kit. We also check for leaks internally. We check voltages. We use our calibrated instruments to verify pressure and temperature are correct. So, you can be assured that you’re getting a proper sterilization from your machine. That’s something that we provide and I strongly recommend.

Preventative Maintenance - Midmark Automatic Sterilizer UltraClave

Zoetek wants to be your partner.  If you perform the routine maintenance – weekly, daily, monthly –  and we come in and do the routine PM once a year, we can keep your Autoclave working well. Thank you for coming to and keep an eye out for more Tek Tips on other equipment. If you ever need any assistance, feel free to reach out and contact us. We’re more than happy to help you on sterilizers or any other equipment you might have with any kind of technical or operator issues.

Thank you!