All manufacturers of surgical instruments highly recommend using neutral pH surgical instrument cleaning detergents, enzymatic surgical instrument cleaners, lubricants, and conditioning solutions. This is critical to maintain the passive layer. The passive layer or stainless steel is intended to prevent or resist stainless steel corrosion.
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The passive layer manufacturing process process is called Passivation. Passivation eliminates the carbon molecules form the instrument surface. This forms a layer which acts as a corrosive resistant seal. Passivation is a chemical process that removes carbon molecules from the surface of the instrument. Proper cleaning with neutral pH surgical instrument cleaning detergents and enzyme cleaners will build up the layer of chromium oxide and protect the surgical instrument from corrosion and pitting. In some circumstances older instruments have higher resistance to corrosion than new ones. New instruments have not had the time to build up the chromium oxide passive layer. Improper cleaning can cause the passive layer of chromium oxide to disappear or become damaged thus increasing the possibility of corrosion. Proper surgical instrument detergent cleaning and sterilization can cause the layer of chromium oxide to improve over time thus increasing the protection against corrosion and pitting.