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 time.
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 develop.
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 become corrosive.
5. Do not use caustic cleaners or any other cleaner
except those specified for cleaning surgical
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 distilled water).
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 autoclaving.
9. Do not leave instruments in the following
solutions for extended periods as corrosion can
a) Aluminum, Barium, Calcium, Ferrous or stannous
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
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 stain free.
I hope this will answer any questions you might have
on this topic.