“If I Could Save Time in a Bottle” Selecting Detergents for Fast Cycles


The singer Jim Croce said it best in a song from the seventies, “If I could save time in a bottle." Is it possible to save time by selecting the right bottle of detergent for instrument washer fast cycles?


A main wash fast cycle time of 2 to 3 minutes may be efficient but before serious consideration, look at best practices for your current process first. Is your facility in compliance with precleaning and treatment sprays at point of use? What is the typical procedure and soil load at your facility? If orthopedic procedures are common, is there a sufficient process in place from point of use through manual cleaning to yield minimal soiling on items loaded into the washer?


If hard water is common in your area, this could affect both detergent dosing and cycle time. Consider water hardness testing and refer to AAMI TIR 34. Other quality factors include correct loading and maintenance of spin arms to allow full spray impingement on all surfaces. Finally, take a look at your current frequency and documentation for washer cleaning tests. Adoption of fast cycles will depend on consistent passing results for washer test coupons and intermittent protein swab tests at both regular and fast cycle times.


Even the best detergents available are not magic. If you want to “save time in a bottle” combine a good quality detergent with best practices to ensure both productivity and patient safety.