Manual Cleaning

Manual cleaning of instruments is the least effective, hardest to validate, and carries an increased risk of ‘sharps injury’.

Manual Cleaning

Manual cleaning of dental instruments is still accepted as a method of decontamination in HTM 01-05, allowing you to comply with essential quality requirements. However, It is the least effective method of cleaning instruments, the hardest to validate, and carries an increased risk of ‘sharps injury’.

Manual cleaning should only be considered if you have no alternative decontamination process methods available in your practice, or if it has been recommended as the only method of cleaning by a manufacturer.

"Manual cleaning, governed by an appropriate protocol, is acceptable within the essential-quality- requirements framework. Within the best-practice framework, however, manual cleaning should be considered only where the manufacturer specifies that the device is not compatible with automated processes (including ultrasonic cleaning) or when the washer-disinfector is temporarily unavailable (for example for repair or validation). Exceptionally, where local experience indicates that pre-washing may be helpful (for example in the removal of tenacious dental materials), such action may be appropriate before automated cleaning." - HTM 01-05 Section 3.3

Manual cleaning must be carried out in dedicated sinks that are not used for any other purpose.

Most practices are not meeting essential quality requirements in full. HTM 01-05 recommends as Best Practice the use of automated washer disinfectors to achieve a uniformly high standard of cleaning of dental instruments.

HTM01-05 section 16 contains a detailed protocol for manual cleaning. This should be adapted as necessary to reflect local facilities. It would be beneficial to have a laminated copy attached to the wall above the manual washing area.

Highlights of the process are:

  • Wear appropriate PPE
  • Prepare the instrument washing sink with appropriate detergent designed for the manual cleaning of medical devices, ensuring that the temperature and dosing is as the manufacturer recommends.
  • The water level (and the sink) must be deep enough to allow all instruments to be fully submerged during washing to minimise splashes and aerosols. This may be achieved by marking the sink with a fill line and adding the relevant volume of detergent.
  • Measure the temperature using a digital thermometer, the temperature must not to exceed 45°C.
  • Wash instruments with a long handled, soft plastic bristled brush.
  • Fully drain instruments before rinsing in suitably potable (drinkable) water in a separate clean rinsing sink.

For more information on testing and validation of decontamination processes please see the relevant sections of the Isopharm website.