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Cleaning and Sterilizing Laboratory Homogenizers

As with medical and surgical instruments, laboratory homogenizers must be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized or disinfected after use to avoid contaminating subsequent samples. The complex designs of homogenizer rotor-stator generator teeth and slots provide an ideal setting to trap and hold sample particles.

Here we present a suggested procedure that can be employed or modified depending on your particular circumstances. Another source of procedures may be provided by regulatory agencies and trade associations related to your industry.

Homogenizer Disassembly and Pre-Cleaning

As noted in our post on sealed and non-sealed shaft tubes homogenizer drive shaft tubes can be complex and contain a number of components. Unsealed shafts equipped with ports should be disassembled then carefully cleaned then sterilized or disinfected before reuse. As with the rotor-stator generator components, all sample residues must be removed, otherwise they will remain on surfaces during the sterilizing or disinfecting steps.

Effective Pre-Cleaning Procedures

Personnel should be advised to exercise care when handing the sharply machined surfaces of rotors and stators. Gross contaminants can be removed by carefully scrubbing with brushes in a disinfecting solution. A more effective and thorough pre-cleaning can be accomplished in a benchtop ultrasonic cleaner filled with a biodegradable solution especially formulated for medical and surgical instrument cleaning. Ultrasonic cavitation, which is the implosion of countless minute bubbles on instrument surfaces, removes and carries away the most tenacious particles from all surfaces wetted by the solution.
After being cleaned homogenizer components should be rinsed in clean water. They are now ready for sterilizing or disinfecting, according to the users’ accepted procedures.

Sterilizing Lab Homogenizers

Sterilizing homogenizer components in autoclaves kills organisms that may remain after pre-cleaning. Autoclaves use pressure and steam – such as 15 psi at 121⁰C (approximately 250⁰F) for 60 minutes. Again we suggest you contact professional associations for procedures that apply to your operations.

Note that the heat and pressure applied during sterilizing can actually bake on contaminants that remain on surfaces after pre-cleaning. This possibility makes a strong case for using an ultrasonic pre-cleaning process.

As another caution certain seals and bearings in drive shafts and the DK40 flow-through chambers can be compromised by autoclave heat and pressure. We strongly encourage you to ask us a question if you have concerns about the CAT Scientific homogenizer used in your facility.

If your QC procedures do not require sterilizing the components they should be immersed in an approved disinfecting solution then dried and stored in a protective container until ready for reuse.

For a more in-depth look at this important activity please check our article on cleaning tips for CAT Scientific Homogenizers.

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Bob Wilcox

Bob Wilcox has represented CAT Scientific’s family of homogenizers, magnetic stirrers, liquid handling and related laboratory equipment since 2002 when Staufen, Germany-based CAT Ingenieurbüro M. Zipperer GMbH established operations in North America. Bob oversees CAT Scientific laboratory apparatus sales and service organization from the company’s headquarters in Paso Robles, CA. He also is in charge of the parent company’s line of JetCat jet turbines, turboprop, and helicopter power plants for hobbyists’ radio controlled fixed wing and helicopter model aircraft. -- Earlier in Bob’s career he was involved in visual and special effects as well as camera and electronics supervisory responsibilities for the motion picture and television industry.

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