Pop Goes the Bubble-The Wonders of Ultrasonic Cleaning June 20 2014

We recently explained Ultrasonic Cleaning in our blog focused on Healthcare Associated Infections. In case you missed it, Ultrasonic Cleaning is a cleaning process where high frequency sound is used in conjunction with a cleaning fluid to clean particulate matter off of heavily soiled items, like surgical or dental instruments.  In the case of a medical office, Ultrasonic cleaning with units such as the Midmark Soniclean Ultrasonic Cleaner or the Tuttnauer Clean & Simple Ultrasonic Cleaner, is often used to prepare instruments to be sterilized in an autoclave. Now that we’re all caught up on what they are used for, let’s look further into how they work. 

In an Ultrasonic Cleaner, very high frequency sound is emitted into a cleaning solution, which can be a chemical solution, or simply water. Sound waves, in the simplest sense, are actually just pressure waves.  These waves contain high-pressure areas and low-pressure areas, known as compressions and rarefactions respectively. In compression, molecules of the matter the sound is passing through are pressed close together. In a rarefaction, molecules are relatively far apart. This compression and expansion when occurring in a liquid causes cavitation, which is the formation of microscopic bubbles on the surface of the items in the Midmark Soniclean Ultrasonic Cleanersolution.  In other words, by using a very high frequency sound wave that is outside of the range of human hearing, many thousands of bubbles are formed.  Since these bubbles are so small, they can work themselves in to the small nooks and crannies of medical instruments, making ultrasonic cleaners ideal for pre-sterilization cleaning.  But what happens after the bubbles form is actually what does the cleaning.

As kids, there is one thing we learned about playing with bubbles…they always pop. This popping of a bubble is what actually performs the cleaning in an Ultrasonic Cleaner.  The inside of cavitation bubbles are very hot and very in high pressure.  When a cavitation bubble pops on the surface of an object in the cleaning solution, that pressure and heat jets toward the surface of the object, blasting away particulate matter. This allows instruments to be safely cleaned and with minimal labor and effort. 

There are many sizes and styles of Ultrasonic Cleaners on the market today so call our sales professionals to assist you in finding the model best for your practice.