Concerning your question on why staining,
pitting or rusting can develop in stainless
steel Instruments; there are some basic
points for the care and handling of surgical
instruments which will extend the life of
the instrument, eliminate staining or
corrosion and lower the cost in use.
These are as follows: -
1. Instruments should be rinsed as soon as
possible after use to remove blood, serum
and saline. Do not use a sponge basin as any
residue from normal saline solution can
cause corrosion to develop over a period of
2. Instruments should be thoroughly dried
after cleaning and before wrapping or
storing, as moisture left in the box lock or
serrations can cause rust or corrosion to
3. Do not leave instruments in a cold
sterilization soak solution for extended
periods as these solutions tend to be
corrosive, after cold sterilization, rinse
the instruments in distilled or
demineralized water and dry thoroughly).
4. If using cold sterilization technique,
change the solution according to directions
as prolonged use will cause the solution to
5. Do not use caustic cleaners or any other
cleaner except those specified for cleaning
6. Do not clean instruments with steel wool
or scouring powder, or use PH detergents. If
cleaning by hand, use a specific instrument
cleaner or a natural detergent soap and a
soft brush (rinse with demineralized or
7. Check your autoclave. Iron, sodium,
calcium, magnesium or copper in your water
can cause spotting, staining or corrosion to
occur. In hard water areas, clean the line
deposits from your autoclave, install a
steam filter if possible. It will remove
most of dirt, rust and pipe scale.
8. Make sure your wraps are rinsed
sufficiently ( 6 to 8 times ) by the laundry
to remove all chlorine bleach as any residue
can cause staining or corrosion during
9. Do not leave instruments in the following
solutions for extended periods as corrosion
can result: -
a) Aluminum, Barium, Calcium, Ferrous or
stannous chloride solutions.
b) Phenol, Lysol or Lodine.
c) Dakin's Solution or Zephirin.
d) Any acid, Mercury or potassium solution.
10. Do not sterilize stainless steel
instruments with chrome plated instruments
if possible, as any break in the surface of
the chrome plate will allow an electrolytic
action develop between the dissimilar
metals, causing pitting and/or a rusty
appearance to develop.
11. Preheat instruments in autoclave before
allowing steam to enter, if possible, to
prevent an excessive amount of condensation
forming on the surface of the instruments.
12. Don't open the autoclave too quickly
after the sterilization cycles as excessive
condensation will develop on the surface of
the instruments (crack the clave to allow
drying before opening fully).
If you follow the above rules and use
instrument cleaners and lubricant milk, your
instruments should remain rust, spot and
I hope this will answer any questions you
might have on this topic.