Correctly cleaned instruments are a necessity for safe reprocessing and delivery of sterile items for patient use. In this paper, we explore the application of validated techniques of reprocessing to ensure proper cleaning, as well as methods of in-house verification of the cleaning process using commercial and do-it-yourself solutions, and suggested frequencies for those procedures. We examine features of manufacturers’ instructions for use (IFU) for difficult-to-clean instruments, with an emphasis on finding common features that may enable the use of a limited number of processes to clean many instrument types.

We also use this approach to provide gross and fine classifications of instrument types, and create product families. Each family should represent one type of device, and one standard procedure should be used for cleaning all instruments in that family. Typical cleaning failure modes for each product family, and general issues of external factors causing systemic difficulties, are discussed, as well as solutions for these cleaning process failures.