Decon Pete – hints and tips for purchasing ultrasonic baths

When buying or replacing ultrasonic baths, there are important specifications and guidance you should know. This month, Decon Pete gives hints and tips on how to make the right choice.

Whether you are looking to replace a piece of equipment or purchase for the very first time, there are some things that you should consider.

This will aid your choice and ensure that the correct equipment is purchased.

Why buy an ultrasonic bath?

If you are currently manual cleaning all dental instruments, it may be a good idea to consider purchasing a small ultrasonic bath.

These baths are a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment and can help to minimise any manual cleaning, resulting in a reduction in possible risks to dental staff.

The UK guidance suggests various specifications for baths which are to be considered but not mandatory. They include:

  • A reservoir (or tank) large enough to accommodate the required throughput
  • A reservoir that should be of a polished stainless-steel construction with internal rounded edges/corners to aid in the cleaning process
  • The maximum and minimum fluid levels clearly visible to the user marked on the reservoir
  • A reservoir drainage facility that does not affect performance and does not leave pools of fluid in the reservoir, which allows the tank to be emptied without the need for operatives to put their hands in the fluid
  • A hinged auto-locking lid that prevents interaction with the load once the ultrasonic equipment is in use, also reducing the risk of aerosols and noise
  • An automatic printer and data-logger (this can be integrated).

It is preferred that you purchase a bath with all of the specifications as outlined in the guidance documents. However, it may not always be feasible or viable for you to do so.

But I would encourage you to consider a few of the specifications when purchasing a new bath.

A reservoir (or tank) large enough to accommodate the required throughput

Its really important that, when looking at baths, you pay particular attention to the size of the ultrasonic tank and how much water they can accommodate.

The whole point of the bath is to try and minimise any manual cleaning, certainly within England and Wales where washer disinfectors are not mandatory.

You should look to purchase a bath that has an adequate capacity to process the level of instruments that are needed. The more water that the bath can take, the more instruments can be processed.

Always ensure that the basket is not overloaded. This can sometimes happen if the bath you purchased is too small.

In addition, always follow the manufacturers instructions and load the basket accordingly. If the basket is overloaded, this will restrict the cavitation effect on some instruments and not produce a sufficient clean.

A reservoir drainage facility that does not affect performance

Try to avoid purchasing a bath that doesn’t include a water drainage facility.

If dental staff are having to lift the bath up to empty the water out, this could become a potential health and safety risk due to the weight and contaminated water contained within.

Purchasing a bath with a drainage facility means no dental staff will need to lift the bath. As well as this, the water held within can be discharged safely into the dirty sink.

A hinged auto-locking lid that prevents interaction with the load once the ultrasonic equipment is in use

The vast majority of dental ultrasonic baths will include an interlocking lid. But it is always worth double checking before purchasing.

Having a lockable lid helps with the validation of the cycle and ensures that instruments cannot be loaded or taken out while the cycle is in operation. The locking lid also helps to reduce any potential aerosol splatter that can be produced by the cavitation vapour.

It’s also a good idea to find out what testing and validation protocols are required by the manufacturer. This way you will have an idea of the ongoing running costs.

Always ensure that the water and detergent is changed at the end of the clinical session or more often if the water becomes visibly soiled. 

It’s important to remember that every time the basket is removed with the instruments, residual water and detergent are being removed as well.

In addition, when fresh water and detergent are put in the tank, a degas cycle is run before loading with any instruments. The fresh water and detergent will contain oxygen which, if not degassed correctly, could inhibit the cavitation effect and result in an inadequate clean.

All tests and daily checks should also be recorded in a suitable record book and kept for a minimum of two years. Ensure it is kept somewhere that is easily accessible by all staff and any clinical inspector.

In next months article we will be looking at tips when considering purchasing new steam sterilisers.

If you have any questions or would like to view any of the services that I offer, please either email me on [email protected] or visit the website

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